Learning How to Coupon

For the past few months as we have really been working hard to tackle our debt and save some money, I have been reading up on couponing.  I have DVR’ed every episode of Extreme Couponing and watched closely to see how these crazy people can walk out of stores with multiple cart fulls of groceries and pay mere pennies!  It’s amazing to me that is even possible!  Now, I have no hopes or dreams of ever being as hard-core as the people on that show because although I do have the time in the summer to devote to it – I just don’t want to spend it doing the crazy amounts of research, organization, and shopping that it would take.  But I am still interested in saving money using coupons.

Every week for the past couple of months I would pull out my coupons before going to the grocery store, match them to the items on my list and put them in my wallet before I leave.  It was taking a fair amount of time and the payoff was less than what I had hoped.  I would save $7 here, $13 there but was still spending over $100 a week.  The savings just weren’t living up to all the bloggers stories of saving $40 here and $100 there.  I was getting a little discouraged and thought it might help if I start getting the Sunday paper.  That way I would have more coupons and might be able to do a little better.  So for the past two weeks I have gotten the Sunday paper, clipped all the coupons inside, and sorted them into envelopes by category.  But I still wasn’t saving anymore than I had before.  The only difference was that now I have an abundance of coupons that I really don’t know how to use.

Earlier this week I was inspired by a friend who is also relatively new to couponing.  She organized all her coupons beautifully into a binder and was able to save nearly $200 on her last shopping trip!  So that really got me back on the track of wanting to figure out what I was doing wrong.  She recommended using The Grocery Store Game.  I had looked into this before but I never signed up because it costs money and I wasn’t having any luck saving money with coupons.  I was worried it wouldn’t be worth it.  But, I decided to give it a try since there was a 4 month free trial.  Maybe it could teach me whatever I was missing so that I could start saving money.  If not, I would cancel it before the free trial ran out.

So I started playing around with it comparing HEB to Randall’s and before long I had a grocery list sorted by available coupons.  Since I have only started getting the newspaper 2 weeks ago, I didn’t have some of the coupons for the deals listed.  So I only put items on my list that I had coupons for.  I started to get excited when I saw the tally on the side that showed how much I was going to be saving.  I printed off the list and headed to the stores.

Here is what I came home with.

From HEB:

6 Shampoos – $3.33 each – get 6 conditioners FREE

Nail  Polish – $0.43 (on sale for $0.93 + $0.50 coupon)

3 spaghetti sauce – $2.29 each get 3 pastas FREE

2 BBQ sauce – on sale for $1.00 each

5 Grill Seasonings – on sale 5 for $5

2 loaves of 100% whole wheat bread-  $.93 each with coupon

4 razor refills – $2.44 each (regularly $7.44 each)

Dial Body Wash – $3.47  get 3 ct. dial bar soap FREE (I had a coupon for $2 off the body wash that would have made it $1.47 but they wouldn’t take it.  I think the coupon was legit because it was on the blogs but I am not sure enough to argue with them yet so I let it go this time.)

Spent $54, Saved $54.50

From Randall’s:

12 Aquafresh toothpaste – on sale for $0.99 each

2 Colgate toothpaste on sale for $.99 each with coupon + sale (at least that is what was supposed to happen – I think something else happened that I didn’t catch.)

2 Sure deodorant – 1 FREE with coupon, 1 $0.99

1 Right Guard deodorant – $0.99 with coupon

8 lbs lean ground beef – $2.99/lb

Spent $41.75, Saved 43.70

In all I spent $95.75 and I saved $98.20!

It is exciting when you finally see that you can save money on items you would buy anyway!  All of what I bought is either the brand I normally use or a brand that I don’t mind using.  All of the food will get eaten before it expires.  The only one that worries me is the deodorant – that’s why I didn’t buy a whole bunch of it.  I don’t want to be stuck with being stinky because my deodorant doesn’t work and I bought a year’s worth!  So we have 3 to try out…if they don’t work we are only out $1.98!  And I’m pretty sure I have enough toothpaste, shampoo, and conditioner to last the next 6 months to a year!  The Grocery Store Game site made it really easy to find the sales going on at each store and where to look for the coupons to pair with the sales.  I only had 3 coupons that I personally clipped for this purchase – the rest came from in store sales or in store coupons!

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