The Beginning of My Couponing Journey

4 Mar

Alright, as promised, here’s my blog post about couponing.

About 3 years ago or so, I stumbled upon a coupon blog online.  I was hooked.  This lady was getting deals like crazy.  I’m talking 40 boxes of cereal–to split between her family and donating to her local food pantry.  I instantly thought of my cereal munching little people (and our lazy nights of cereal for dinner), I knew I needed to figure this stuff out!  I read this blog daily, almost religiously.  I almost got a high just seeing that scoring so many items for so little was possible for someone–let alone the thought of doing it myself.  And believe me, we like our food. If I could figure this out, we’d be set.  Especially since around that time our family had just expanded (or was expanding) with Zhara.

I started getting the newspaper.  I needed those coupon inserts if I was going to try this out.  I bought a binder and baseball card holders.  I clipped, sorted and stored my coupons neatly–according to what the coupon queen suggested.  I compared the blog to my coupons, trying to figure out the deals.  Quickly–very quickly–I became annoyed with the success of this particular blog host.  I mean, how frustrating is it to see someone score the deals, blog about how easy it was, and flat out give you the directions on how to do it—only to figure out that none of the deals will work because we were in different parts of the country!  Hello, regional stores! Boo, regional stores!  And to top it off, she was well out of beginner coupon status–she was purchasing coupons from a clipping service as well.  Well, riiight, guess I was out of that loop. The visits to her blog slowed and eventually halted altogether.  I continued to try to use coupons–but I only ever managed to receive the 40 cents off of a product I was already buying…nothing fancier than one pretty nice trip to Walgreen’s.

Fast-forward through several attempts to do the same thing.  Repeated clipping and storing and using a few coupons had become my new normal.  I thought I was paying attention and doing a decent job.  I would guess it saved us around $75, at a generous guess.

And come to the present.  About a month ago, I went to a Friends and Family Coupon Club meeting with my friend Jaynelle.  I was determined to go and learn–actually learn what these ladies were trying to share with me.  There’s no reason to keep the coupon knowledge to yourself…there’s (usually) plenty of product to be had.  At the meeting we introduced ourselves and talked about different styles of couponing and different storage methods.  We shared various websites that we use to find good deals and coupon match-ups.  We discussed where to find printable coupons, about the existence of clipping services and about how brand websites or even their Facebook page having promotions. And naturally, at the end, we had a coupon swap!  (My favorite score there was several M&Ms coupons that I used with the Valentine’s Day clearance!)

Since I started to pay more attention to what I was doing–where I was shopping and what I was spending our money on–we have been planning our meals more so around the weekly circulars.  I receive a paper subscription every Wednesday and Sunday.  Wednesday for the weekly store circulars and Sunday for the manufacturer’s inserts.  To date (remember, this has only been about 3 weeks worth), by using coupons, taking advantage of ‘Buy One, Get One’ deals, and shopping other sales, we have saved $447!  It’s a great feeling to not completely surpass our grocery budget for once! Plus, with set items and only supplementing with a few others, you get creative–and that’s right up our family’s alley!!  My best shopping experiences have been at Publix, Target, Winn-Dixie and then the commissary.  I just make sure to have an idea of how much the product cost is at each place to know where it would be cheapest—deal or no deal.

I haven’t yet figured out how to score great deals at the commissary, but I’m working on that.  I’ve got a one-on-one consultation set up with a member of the coupon group on Tuesday–someone who has scored the very deals I’m hoping to figure out how to get!  And then we have this month’s coupon meeting this Wednesday.

In the end, I’m hoping to figure this out to help support our family on less and to pass the knowledge on to any family and friends who want it.  Of course, each and every time we move, I could very well have to readjust what I do, as the stores will change as our address does (especially when we make a habit out of moving across the country!), but if it’s yields results, the work is worth it!

Here’s a posting of what my shopping trip looked like last night:

Paid $31.13, Saved $78.62!  Between MFR coupons, store coupons and special price savings, I’ll take it!!

I would never buy half this stuff if I didn’t get it at such a discount–especially any premade things like the frozen Bird’s Eye meals in this picture. I am generally not a fan.  But for 98 cents, I decided last night that they could make a decent little lunch for the girls and myself.  I still will not buy items that I know we won’t use–14 things of vitamins, frozen diet dinners, etc.  I would rather not make a space for it until it gets donated or worry about who I would give it to here.  Perhaps if it gave me overage and helped pay for the rest of my groceries I would feel differently–I just haven’t gotten there yet.  But for free or less than a dollar, yes, please!  Besides the girls think I’m cooler now.  With such great deals and coupons, they’re getting more snacks/treats. 🙂

Here is a list of the blogs I often look at.  Now, remember, anyone back in the Midwest reading this, several of these will work for you, as Target, Wal-Mart, Walgreen’s and some CVS are national, but you’ll want to google search more grocery blogs in your area–as I know that’s what most of us would LOVE to save the most on!

Blogs to look at for deals/coupon match-ups (Not a complete list, but the ones I find most useful.):

Hip2Save

The Krazy Coupon Lady

Totally Target

Southern Savers

Wild for Wags

i heart Publix

Frugal Fairhope

I Heart the Mart

Also, don’t forget to friend these on Facebook.  They’ll post right in your news feed when there is a great deal going on or when there’s a hot coupon to be printed.  Honestly, I find my info through this method more than I do by going directly to the blog site or coupon printing sites.

I haven’t ventured in to Swagbucks or Recyclebank yet.  I’m just trying to do this one bit at a time.  That might not be the smartest, but I’m just doing what I can handle.  I’ll have to see if this changes after my one-on-one and the group meeting this week.

I hope those blogs help.  Seriously, just check them out, get the paper (check out www.discountednewspapers.com) and clip/print coupons from anywhere you can and try it!  Follow the blogs exactly until you get the hang of it. Believe me, the first time you score a nice deal, you’ll be hooked and you’ll definitely get to it. That’s what my 15 boxes of cereal at 80 cents each did for me a couple weeks ago!!

Feel free to leave comments about places you look to for your deals/coupons.  Readers who have never even thought of couponing (and I) might benefit from your knowledge too!

I’ve been including Makenzi when she’s interested.  She loves the shopping and tries to buy into more of the ‘deals’ than I’ll let her, but she’s getting a good grasp of it all!  May as well teach the girls while they’re with me, right?!  I’ll update here on Everyday Lady as my couponing journey continues. Good luck!

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6 Responses to “The Beginning of My Couponing Journey”

  1. Homeschooling Super Heroes March 4, 2012 at 1:20 pm #

    Ugh. I sooooo need to be doing this! I’m really glad to read that you thought about it for years before doing it. I’ve thought about it for a year, but I just don’t feel like I have been able to get myself organized enough to start all the clipping. But to be able to be so responsible with grocery money – the savings is incredible, and I would love to use that extra money to pay for other things, like paying extra on the house.

    • mmeschmitz March 4, 2012 at 7:25 pm #

      Amanda, I find that it’s easier to make a menu and grocery list when I do this. Yes, it’s actually added time and work, but it makes it so much easier! You can do it. I’ve seen your supermom capabilities before. 😉

  2. tanyetta March 4, 2012 at 4:24 pm #

    Great Post!! You have included a lot of great links, information and most of all, you are encouraging your readers to take it slow and only take things one at a time. You are right, ONE nice score and you’re HOOKED :-).

    • mmeschmitz March 4, 2012 at 7:27 pm #

      Thanks, Tanyetta! I’m trying! Nothing like getting a great deal to get ya going! It seems to give me more energy for the rest of my day as well. Excitement! (So I guess I really need to stop shopping at night then, huh?)

  3. Pam Runyon March 4, 2012 at 6:49 pm #

    Great job! I foresee some future blog posts of Phil building some shelves for your stockpile:). I’ve never had much success couponing at the commissary. It seems like whatever I save just goes to paying the dumb surcharge that they make you pay. We usually just buy meat there.
    Last year Michael & I decided to save the all the money that I was saving with coupons in order to save for a cruise to Alaska that we want to take next year. It’s pretty amazing how quickly 50 cents here & a dollar there add up!
    Also we save all the Target gift cards (buy this, get a $5 gc..) that I get throughout the year & use them to help with Christmas shopping.
    Looking forward to reading some more coupon posts! 🙂

    • mmeschmitz March 4, 2012 at 7:24 pm #

      Pam, saving those $5 gift cards is a great idea! I used the last one I had (from joining ebates) toward Bella’s birthday gift. I think the one I have now might just be stored away! That is assuming the gifts they want come from there! Can’t wait to see pictures from your cruise! 😉

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