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Monday, August 17, 2009

On Becoming a Couponer

Ever since Dave entered our lives I've started cutting coupons.

Yes - I am officially that woman at the grocery store. The one you got behind because she only had one little basket. You saw my stack of coupons too late and now someone's come behind you and hemmed you in. Well you go right ahead and roll your eyes. Then watch me pay for my entire basket of nourishment with a five dollar bill. Uh huh. Who's laughing at who now?!

I NEVER envisioned myself as a couponer - I also never envisioned myself married, with a baby and a quaint home in the suburbs before I turned 30...but that is another story for another day. My experience with coupons prior to last year consisted of cutting out a coupon, sticking it in my purse, finding it 6 months later and throwing it away because it had expired. Sound familiar?

Couponers are crazy old women with too much time on their hands bent over the Sunday paper all afternoon with a pair of scissors - right?

Well nowadays it's just so darn easy. I spend 10-15 minutes planning my grocery trip each week and on average I save 40% off my bill...on a good week, I'll save a lot more.

A few folks (aka my mother) have asked me to explain how I do it - so here goes.

1. Buy the Sunday paper (if you're a lucky ATL resident who gets a free "Evening Edge" copy of the AJC delivered on Thursdays, don't buy the Sunday paper...the coupon inserts you need are in here) - this is where all the coupons hide out.

2. Pull out the Red Plum and SmartSource coupon inserts (and occasionally the General Mills or Procter & Gamble packets) write the date on the front and save them.

That's it. Now just wait until you need to head to the grocery store.

My pile of inserts sits between dog food and painters rags in the garage - thought you'd want to know.

Ready to get shopping? Here's what you do:

1. Go to one of two GREAT sites, ( requires a log-in, but NO fee to use) or (if you live in the South.) There may be others, in fact I'm quite sure there are...but I use these two sites and I'm doing just fine.

2. Search for what's on sale at the grocery store you plan to head to. Or, if you go to a few different stores, see which has the best sales.
(I personally can't fathom the thought of going to one store for milk and another for bread, but truly devoted couponers do....the choice is yours.)

3. Create your grocery list based around foods that are on sale at your favorite store that week. This is where the real savings add up - don't automatically buy chicken breasts each week out of habit, maybe ground turkey or pork loin is on sale - spice up your dinners and save moola at the same time people!

4. The amazing coupon websites do the hard work for you and match up sale items with any current coupons for those items.

For example if Jif peanut butter is on sale and a coupon came out several months back that is still valid, these sites will tell you which insert that coupon is in.

5. Go through the inserts you've stored away, clip the coupons you need all at once - voila! you're officially a couponer.

So what are you waiting for?! The fun part is seeing the little note at the bottom of your receipt that shows how much money you're saving. I am still trying to convince B Daddy that all of my savings should go directly into my shoe fund - I'll keep you posted on how that argument is coming.

Editor's Note: It takes probably 2-3 months of saving your inserts until you have a good shot at having all of the coupons that are current.

Editor's Note #2: Southernsavers has a GREAT "getting started" guide if any of this is remotely interesting to you!

Editor's Note #3: If you start doing this, people will roll their eyes at you in line. Stay strong and laugh at their naivete and wasteful spending in your head. Or out loud. I'm a coward so I laugh in my head.

Editor's Note #4: If you have any questions or can't figure out the sites I mentioned, post a comment or email me and I'll try to help!
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