My First Attempts at Couponing

So…I’ve been bitten by the couponing bug.  I’ve only done two weeks so far, but the savings have been undeniable and very motivating!  I’m always looking for ways to be a better steward of our finances and this is definitely a great way!

I would like to start out by saying that I feel a little silly writing this blog because there are TONS of great websites out there…Money Saving Queen and The Krazy Coupon Lady…to name a few.  However, I must admit…those websites can be a bit overwhelming for a beginner like me.

I went to a workshop at my church with the Money Saving Queen herself, Sarah Roe, and it was definitely enough to pique my interest and motivate me to learn more, but I still felt very overwhelmed.  Then, my friend, Kristy, made a comment on Facebook about how I should start couponing and invited me over to her house to teach me how!  I couldn’t pass up that offer!

(Sidenote:  Kristy and I weren’t technically “friends.”  Her mom was my 4th grade teacher and has been trying to figure out a way for us to meet for years.  Because of Mrs. Bailey’s recommendation, Kristy and I started reading each other’s blogs…virtually stalking each other, if you will.  Recently, Kristy sent me a friend request on Facebook, providing us an opportunity to stalk each other with more regularity😉  I’m so glad she invited me over to her house to teach me to coupon. We can now say that we’ve met and we’re officially friends so the stalking doesn’t seem so weird anymore…ha!)

Anyway, the one hour one-on-one session with Kristy was just what I needed.  She answered my questions and made this whole process feel much more doable.  Now…here are a few of my favorite tips I learned from the workshop and my time with Kristy AND a few examples from my first two weeks..

  1. I’ve been getting my coupons primarily from 4 places:
    1. Tulsa World Sunday paper (QuikTrip)
    2. The Oklahoman Sunday paper (QuikTrip)
    3. Weekly mailer that comes in the mail every week (on Wednesday for me)
    4. http://www.coupons.com (you can often print the same coupon up to 2-3 times)
  2. Be organized!
    1. Make a coupon binder.  Mine is divided into these sections: baby, cleaning, food, office supplies, paper products, pharmacy, toiletries, and miscellaneous.
    2. Collect your coupons for each store in an envelope and write your list on the front of the envelope.  Once my envelope is prepared, I then paperclip it to the sales flyer for the particular store.
    3. Take the time to make a plan and stick with it!
  3. The MAIN goal is to try to combine a SALE, with a STORE COUPON, and a MANUFACTURER COUPON.  This was the “AHA” moment for me.  I’m pretty much focusing on ONLY buying things when I have a combination of all 3 unless it is something I NEED that week.
  4. Price Match!  If you do your shopping primarily at Walmart, you can take competitor’s ads in with you and have the price adjusted when you’re paying at the register.  I’ve even had them adjust the price for me when I don’t have the ad with me.  You can also do this at Target, but it has to be done at Customer Service.
  5. Finally, my friend, Stephanie, gave me some great advice via Instagram:  “Be very, very patient with yourself and know that you’re going to make lots of mistakes.  Hang in there, because it’s worth it!”

Now, here are a few examples from my first 2 weeks:

TARGET:

Lunchables ($1.98 each):

  • On sale for $1 each.
  • Target coupon = $1 off 2 lunchables
  • I got 2 lunchables for $1

Herbal Essence Shampoo and Conditioner ($2.99 each)

  • Target coupon = $1 off 2
  • Manufacturer coupon = $3 off 2
  • I got one shampoo and one conditioner for $1.98

Scrubbing Bubbles toilet cleaners ($3.50 each)

  • Target coupon = $1 off 2
  • Manufacturer coupon = $1 off 2
  • I got 2 packages of toilet cleaner for $5

Lysol wipes (2.49 each)

  • On sale for $1.87 each.
  • Manufacturer coupon = $1 off 2
  • Manufacturer coupon = $1 off 2
  • I got 4 packs of wipes for $5.48

*I signed up for a Target Redcard.  It acts like a debit card that you only use at Target (you can use it at the Starbucks and concession stand in Target, too!) and it automatically gives you 5% off your purchase PLUS it gives you free shipping anytime you order something from Target online!*

WALGREENS:

Opti Free Contact Solution 2 pack ($18.99)

  • On sale for $14.99.
  • Walgreen’s coupon = $4 off 2 pack.
  • Manufacturer coupon = $1 off
  • I got a 2 pack for $9.99

CVS:

Venus Razor with one refill ($9.99)

  • Manufacturer Coupon = $4 off
  • Extrabucks Rewards = $4
  • I got the razor for $1.99

Garnier Fructis Shampoo and Conditioner

  • On Sale for 3 for $10
  • Manufacturer coupon $1 off
  • Manufacturer coupon $1 off
  • Extrabucks Rewards = $3
  • I got 3 bottles of shampoo/conditioner for $5

Right Guard deodorant ($2.99)

  • Manufacturer coupon $1 off
  • Manufacturer coupon $1 off
  • Extrabucks Rewards $1
  • Extrabucks Rewards $1
  • I got 2 deodorants for $1.98

*The Extrabucks Rewards print out for you to use on your next purchase so they’re not technically taken off this total.*

*I got an e-mail from CVS for 25% off my next purchase.  I sent the offer to my CVS card so when I scanned it at the checkout, it automatically took 25% off my total.*

*Be sure to scan your CVS card each time you go into the store at the coupon kiosk.  You’ll get new coupons every time!*

So…I hope this helps!  As I’m just starting out, this is the process that helps me for now:

  1. Clip coupons and file them in the binder.
  2. Go through the sale ads and find things that I will use that I can get for a significantly cheaper price than I normally pay.
  3. Right now I’m primarily focusing on cleaning supplies and toiletries.  These are easy things to stock up on and save for later use.
  4. As far as grocery shopping, I’m sticking to Walmart.  I meal plan, make my list, and flip through my binder to see if I have any coupons AND flip through the ads to see if I can price match anything.  There are people who recommend meal planning according to what is on sale that particular week…I’m not there yet and don’t know if I will be.

Here are a few pictures to show how I’ve organized my couponing process…

This is my binder.  I have a divider with a pocket for each section.  The pockets can hold coupons I haven’t had a chance to file yet.  Each section has several plastic pages with baseball card sized pockets to hold the coupons.  Per Kristy’s recommendation, I file like coupons together (for the same product), putting the one with the earliest expiration date at the front.

This is how I organize to prepare for the shopping trip.  The envelope contains the coupons I’ll be using, the shopping list is written on the front, and it is paper clipped to the ad.  For grocery shopping, I have a menu planning worksheet that has my meals for the week on one side, the grocery list on the other, and then I paperclip competitor’s ads and an envelope with any coupons to the front.

When I write the list on the front, I also write the coupons and sales next to it so I remember what to buy and how many.  Since I’m new at this, I need all the information readily available to help me decide, once I get to the store, if I’m actually getting a good deal or not.

Also, I just flipped the envelope upside down to use it again for the next week.

Let me know if you have any questions!  I’ll do my best to answer them or I’ll direct you to someone else who might know the answer🙂


3 Comments on “My First Attempts at Couponing”

  1. Kristy says:

    I’m so glad that our stalking each other has turned into a real friendship! This is a great blog. I’m excited that you were able to apply my teachings. It really is an easy process if you just give youself a week or two to get the hang of it. Great job!

  2. Becca says:

    Welcome to the wonderful world of saving lots of money! You and I have pretty much the exact same system. Just wait… in a few months, this will all be old hat and so quick & easy. Proud of you!

  3. Beth says:

    We’re getting a CVS in Stillwater, so that part of your post excites me! Walmart doesn’t do coupons, so I just have to use the manufacturer coupon….and the great value brand is usually cheaper than the name brand WITH the coupon. So, I gave up couponing in Stillwater. I’ve heard Walgreens has a point system, but I tried to understand it on a blog one time and it was too confusing. I like that you have a card for CVS…that seems so much easier!!!! I’m looking forward to its opening!🙂


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