Couponing Tutorial

This is an explanation that a friend of mine came up with that will help you get started in your budgeting ventures!

Here are the basics of “extreme” budgeting that I have learned in the last few months. I save lots and lots of money every month and have lots of items to give away. I have always been frugal, but I was going about it in the wrong way (buying items on sale when I saw them, but not being strategic about almost always buying items on sale). I learned almost everything from the budget blogs (moneysavingmom.com is the best, but there are lots to reference).

To get started, organize your food and toiletries. Figure out what you use on a regular basis (food items, toiletries, cleaning supplies, etc.). Unless you are completely out and cannot do without, do not buy more until it goes on a good sale, preferably with a coupon match, and then try to stock up until at least the next good sale. Not every sale is a good sale. Figure out the cheapest amount for which you can purchase each item that your family uses. This takes time, but you will figure it out. I have not paid for toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo and conditioner, deodorant, etc. since I started. I also don’t pay more than a dollar for cereal and I have ten boxes in my pantry right now.

This is basic, but a big change for our family and the biggest money saver…eat all of your food and use everything until it is absolutely empty. If a food is about to go bad, look on the internet for a recipe that incorporates it and freeze it for later.

The more brand flexible you are, the more you will save. Think about what brands you have to have and what brands you just buy out of habit. Often, you end up with nicer brands than you used to buy.

Don’t go to Wal-Mart or Target without a very specific list that you stick to…those “cheap” items add up to hundreds per month and instead, you can use this plan to save hundreds per month to use for more exciting things.

Get coupons from neighbors, etc. and save them by date. The blogs will tell you when you need them. I do clip the coupons for items that I definitely use.

Mail your expired coupons to the follow woman who sorts them for use by military families:
Cherie Searles
183 Bolton Center Rd.
Bolton, CT 06043

The blogs list rebates and coupon matchups. I get any rebate for products that I can use or donate. It is fun to try new products and I have developed a stockpile just from rebates. Very often, you get paid to try something when you use a coupon.

You will also have lots to donate, so keep this in mind when you are making your lists. Sometimes I buy items just to donate.

All of the sale and coupon matchups are found on the blogs. Moneysavingmom.com is the best that I have found. Study this blog. I set up bloglines, which is a webpage that will show when a blog has a new post.

Store Specific Information
Don’t make unnecessary trips. Organize your trip and you can hit a bunch of these stores quickly and without wasting much gas.

Publix
Sales start every Thursday.
• The best deals at Publix are BOGO (buy one, get one). You can use TWO coupons when you BOGO, often making the total for both items very low.
• Check http://fiddledeedeeblog.blogspot.com/ and http://www.hotcouponworld.com/forums/publix/ for the weekly deals.
• Publix takes ANY coupons, including coupons from other stores. Anytime CVS has a $2/$10, you can use one coupon per $10. I keep a wad in my coupon holder.

CVS
Sales start every Friday.
Every week and month, CVS has items that give the purchase price in store credit (also known as Extra Care Bucks or ECB’s). If you have a coupon, you get overage, which you can use towards other items. Using this strategy, you can get lots of things for free at CVS.
Read more here:
http://www.moneysavingmom.com/money_saving_mom/2008/03/cvs-101.html
http://www.moneysavingmom.com/money_saving_mom/2008/03/qa-making-cvs-w.html

Walgreens
Sales start every Sunday.
Every month, Walgreens has items that are free after rebate. They are listed in a monthly coupon book. If you put the items on a gift card, you get 10% more back. If you have a coupon, you get that amount of the coupon back too. Use the money from last months rebates on this months rebates and after the first month, you gets lots of items for free with no more oop (out of pocket).
Walgreen also gives register rewards (RR) that are store credit. If you have coupons, you can get more RR than you originally paid.
Read more about Walgreens here:
http://www.moneysavingmom.com/money_saving_mom/2008/03/ive-been-shoppi.html

Target and Wal-Mart have occasional deals. Monitor the blogs, but you probably won’t be there much.

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