Jason thinks my couponing is an obsession. I prefer to think of it as a hobby! I started this blog because I get so excited about my deals, but I don’t want to be constantly bombarded friends and family who might not be interested. I also don’t want to clutter my family blog with coupon deals. I figured this would be a way to share the deals I’m getting with those who are interested.
I started getting into coupons around the time that Emily (who is now 4) was born. I never realized how expensive a baby could be! I wasn’t a hard core couponer at that point. By the time Jacob came along, I really started getting into coupons and realized that having a baby doesn’t have to be expensive at all. I am currently still using diapers that I stockpiled last summer and probably have enough to last another year, at least, at which point I hope we can start potty training. I’ve paid little, if anything, for those diapers and wipes. I also have an extensive supply of every health and beauty item you can imagine (razors, shampoo, body wash, shave gel, over the counter medicines, toothpaste, toothbrushes, mouthwash, handsoap, toilet paper, paper towels, etc). It spans well beyond a year’s supply so I end up giving away lots of items to family and friends, donating to charity, and selling off the rest of the excess whenever we have a garage sale. I have paid little, if anything, for these items. Our family of four (plus one dog) survives on a grocery budget of $200/month. I budget an additional $125 for “miscellaneous” (which includes things like paper goods, as well as extras like ice cream, and things like haircuts, oil changes, household cleaners, etc.) I am able to do this because I pretty much only buy things when they are on sale. If there is a good deal on something, I buy large amounts and store it, so I don’t have to buy it until it goes on sale again. I also mix and match coupons to get the most for my money. Since I started using coupons seriously, I decided not to renew our Sam’s/Costco memberships. We no longer use them because they don’t take coupons and I couldn’t justify spending the yearly fee when I can get most of the things that I bought there elsewhere for free or close to free using coupons.
My disclaimer here is that I am not the original mastermind behind most of these deals. They can be found readily online through the links that are posted on the right side. I know, though, that it’s hard sometimes, especially when you are first getting started with coupons, to wrap your mind around some of these things and so my hope is that I can break some things down to give you ideas about how you can do different deals. Please feel free to post comments and ask questions, too!
Where to find coupons?
People often ask me where to find coupons. There are plenty of places to find them and before you know it, they will be taking over your house, car, and purse! 🙂 Here are a few places where I get coupons from:
(If there is a deal coming up on something we use, I stock up on multiple coupons.)
- Sunday inserts in the newspaper (we were able to get a subscription for a year for $40, which was well worth it for me)
- Online :
Some of my favorite sites to print coupons from are smartsource.com, coupons.com, couponmom.com, and coolsavings.com
You can also find printable coupons on many manufacturer’s websites. On Hotcouponworld.com, they have a coupon database where you can search for various products and it will tell you what coupons are available for different products and where you can find them.
- In the “blinkie” machines that they have in stores
- On the packaging of the actual products. Some products have a “peelie” coupon on the outside that can be peeled off and used toward that purchase. Many products also have coupons on the box or inside the box.
- On eBay – Some of my favorite “sellers” are kalamazooclipper, lisajanet81, dans-katys-coupons, and forever_johnson
- Through coupon clipping services – I have been using these more lately because the shipping & handling from many eBay sellers has become outrageous or it’s just too difficult to win the auctions for coupons on eBay. The services I have used are:
The Coupon Clippers: http://www.thecouponclippers.com and Coupons & Things by Dede: http://www.couponsthingsbydede.com. The Coupon Clippers is based in Florida and Coupons & Things by Dede is based in Texas (so if you’re in Texas, shipping is super fast, but you have to pay sales tax)
- Some stores will allow you to use a manufacturer’s coupon and a store coupon together to purchase a product. Some examples of stores that do this are: Walgreen’s (you can use store coupons from the “Easysaver catalogs” they have in the store or from their weekly ads combined with manufacturer’s coupons), Target (you can print out coupons from their website and they also send store specific coupons in the mail that can be used with manufacturer’s coupons), and CVS (they e-mail or mail you store coupons and there are also CRT store coupons that print on your receipt). Kroger also sends store coupons in the mail and Randalls sometimes has store coupons in their weekly ads.
- BOGO coupons – This stands for “buy one, get one free.” when you are using a BOGO coupon, this counts for two items, so you cannot use a $ off and a BOGO coupon together. If a store is advertising a BOGO sale and you have a BOGO coupon, you can use these together to get the item for FREE.
- BOGO sales and coupons – If a store is having a BOGO free sale and you have two $ off coupons, you can use a $ off coupon for each item, which lowers your out of pocket spending (for example, if the store has laundry detergent on sale BOGO free with a sale price of $4.99 and you have two $1 off coupons, you can sometimes use both and so you’d get both bottles of detergent for $2.99 after coupons). Whether or not this works depends on how the store rings up the “free” item. I have not been able to do this at Walgreens, but I have been able to do it at Kroger and CVS.
- Overage – some stores will give you “overage” on coupons (for example, if an item is .89 and the coupon is for $1, it will ring up as $1 and the .11 extra will go toward the rest of your total). Other stores will adjust the price of the coupon down to the sale price of an item. Target and Walmart typically give overage. At Kroger, it just depends on the cashier.
- Doubling and tripling coupons. In some areas, stores will double and triple coupons to a certain dollar amount. In my area, the stores that do this are Kroger and Randalls. Kroger will triple coupons to .39 face value and double coupons up to .50 face value. They will do this with up to three “like” coupons. Randalls will also triple coupons to .39 face value and double up to .50 face value, but they will only do this for one “like” coupon. These coupons are great when these stores have 10/$10 sales because you can get many things for free!
What about the Grocery Game?
When I am checking out, I often have cashiers ask me if I do “The Grocery Game.” Although I have heard of this, I have never tried it, so I can’t give you a lot of feedback on that, but my philosophy is that most of the deals that they advertise there are readily available online for free and I don’t want to pay for something I can get for free. On HotCouponWorld.com, they typically break down the deals (including listing coupon match ups) for the weekly sale ads for a variety of stores, and they are usually posted in advance so you can plan ahead and get the coupons you need.
From what I have heard, Couponmom.com is similar to The Grocery Game, but it is a free service. I have checked it out a few times, but I have noticed that there are often coupons available (printables from websites, etc.) that are not listed there.
Isn’t it cheaper to just buy store brand stuff?
I used to think this, too, but since I have started using coupons, I have found that in most cases, you can get name brand stuff for much cheaper than you can get store brand stuff. (For example, the shelf in my laundry room is full of bottles of Tide that I got for free or close to it…I never used Tide before I started using coupons because I thought it was too expensive). One of the main exceptions for me is canned soups (mainly cream soups that I use for cooking). That is one of the few things that I usually find cheapest by buying store brand because coupons don’t come out for the Campbell’s cream soups very often.