For the past six months, I have been couponing. Now don’t get me wrong, I have talked about couponing before and Walmart price wise was always the best deal. However, that is where the coupon matching comes into play. My local Publix accepts competitors coupons and I have to say that my savings would not work without this. The idea is to watch the sales circulars for the Buy One Get One sales that Publix runs every week…then pair that sale by stacking 2 manufacturers coupons with 2 store coupons. You can use 2 coupons because you are buying 2 items…even though the one will be discounted at the register, it still counts. Publix has store coupons each week plus my store accepts Target coupons (watch the fine print, sometimes store coupons are one per customer, not per purchase).
Yes, I do pour over the ads and scour my coupon batches to match stuff up, but technology is there to make things easier. I follow several coupon and savings blogs that match up the coupons for the sales. I used to follow the Krazy Coupon Lady, but found that I couldn’t use all of her advice. (I tried the binder idea, but couldn’t keep up. Right now I have the binder to organize my loose coupons and use file folders for my sheets of coupons from the paper and printed on the Internet.) She has just too many stores that I couldn’t use, like Albertson’s…oh, how I wish Albertson’s were still in the area. I still use her site for links to printable coupons, but not so much for the deal match ups. One site that I found and absolutely love is Addicted to Saving. She is a Florida girl which means that these are deals I really can use. I love the Publix coupon match ups! Another great place to find matchups are the forums on Hot Coupon World. They list the sale items posted in the circular and then follow up with the coupons that correspond to the sales.
The trick to couponing is to have multiple copies of your coupons. You can buy coupons off of sites like Ebay, but I am leary of doing that because there are some dishonest people out there passing fake coupons that you will get charged the minimum $2,500 fine for using. You also need to be careful of what printables you download. (3/17/12 Update: You may check out the list of what currently circulating coupons are out there at the Coupon Information Corporation.) The best option is to either get your friends and family to give you their paper inserts or to buy multiple copies of the Sunday paper. Some cities will even allow you to have multiples devlivered to your house. I only get one copy of the paper delivered to my house, Sunday only. I admit this is because I am a bit lazy. I don’t want to have to go out to buy more papers if they don’t have any worthwhile coupons that I can use. Sunday Coupon Preview will give you a list of the coupons coming out in the Sunday paper, but I have found that sometimes there are slight variances, so I don’t always rely on it (it is a great tool for planning Sunday shopping trips when you know a coupon you can use will be coming out that day).
So am I really saving with coupons? Well, yes and no. I average about 50-70% savings on every shopping trip. I am still spending as much as before, but we have a fully stocked pantry and freezer chest. My son has a variety of snacks to take to school and we try new foods out that we might have hesitated about before. We are also eating out less because we have things stocked in the pantry and freezer that are quick to cook when we don’t feel like cooking (I.e. chicken fingers). Now a lot of the coupons are for processed food items, so you might not find that this is something that would work for you. But there are great deals on frozen vegtables and canned items. While fresh is always the best option, these are a pretty great second. Just remember everything in moderation.