Monday, August 4, 2014

Learn to Coupon With Me- Getting Started (Post 1)

So really, this little series of posts are going to be a process for both of us. You, the reader, and myself. Before I begin, I want to chat about what brought me here. I used to work at a grocery store. Smith's, if you're curious. I had a few regulars that would come in with their coupons, and it used to bother me. It takes a bit, and even if YOU don't mind accepting the product, if that register doesn't beep, you're in for a long check-out line.

Still, as I saw the numbers roll off their total.. I had to be a bit envious. I was working part time and barely making enough money to pay all the bills I had to pay. I thought about couponing... then said.. "Ugh, too much work."

Fast forward until now. For the first time since being out on my own, I'm unemployed.  I'm a SAHM of a toddler, with a husband that goes to school full time, and works part time. Our money is tight. Some months, I get worried.

I was watching the show "Extreme Couponing" (saw that one coming, didn't you?) one night on Netflix, and I was amazed. Also impressed. At the same time, I was realistic. I can almost guarantee I will never be "that" couponer. First, I don't have the storage space-- seriously.... have you seen some of their houses??!! Also, I think my husband would put a hand on my shoulder and say... "Babe.. we need an intervention." He loves saving money as well, but I think he might draw the line at a room full of toilet paper and paper towels.

So, I thought-- "there must be a medium". Somehow I can coupon and make it work for/with my family, and not turn crazy.

So I started googling. For hours. Daily. I found some really helpful blogs and sites, and I decided to dive in. Not quite head-first... so maybe... jump in? I made some decisions and realizations.

  1. I saw the value in more than one paper. spending 5.25 a Sunday seemed a LOT to me because, like I said, money's tight. I knew though that it would be worth it, and I knews I'd save more than that if I worked hard enough. 
  2. Stocking up. The idea is that you stock up when prices are rock-bottom and then you don't have to buy those things again for awhile.  Like razors. My first shopping week I bought 36 disposable razors. They're not the best, but they'll work, and if money is tight and my husband needs to shave to keep up his appearance at work.. we'll have razors. Other big things I notices were personal care products (tampons, deodorant, shampoo..) You'll look a little insane, or maybe really unlucky when you walk out with 5 boxes of Kotex in your cart, but on that month when you're low.. you won't worry about that cost. 
  3. I needed to start slow. For the next month (and for the past two) we've been at out "tightest" budget. Which means even though there are some amazing deals, I can;t afford them right now. It's a bummer, but sales and coupons will come around again. Right now, I've focused on only couponing stuff that I can get for free, or as a "moneymaker". Any other coupons I used were for stuff I was already buying. They didn't save a TON, because it wasn't a sale price, but some is better than nothing.  Next month, or the next.. I'm planning my first "BIG" haul.
  4. Diligence. I'll admit to that one being  a hard one for me. I will admit that I have days that I spend most all day watching TV with Cody or writing on a novel.. or reading.. or doing pretty much anything that's not productive. So, I said if I was going to spend the money on the newspapers, I was going to cut, and organize them within that say or the next.  No papers sitting around the house waiting. I have three apps on my phone for additional savings (we'll chat more on those in the next post). Everytime I was planning shopping, I'd check them. If there were any savings, I'd dutifully submit my receipt for cash-back.  (I've already made almost 10.00 between the 3 in one week)
  5. Organize. This came a bit with Diligence, but I thought it was important enough to deserve it's own point. I can see already that it would be easy to let the coupons sort of take over. The first newspaper of the month had a TON of coupons. It took me days to get them organized and written on a spreadsheet (I wanted to be able to quick search a brand). I also wanted to know the day they expire I could reduce any unneeded ones ASAP. I could see it-- Extreme Couponer Turns Hoarder. When you guys came and visited me I'd just have old newspapers as furniture and coupons as wallpaper.
So that was that. I decided to start couponing. I warned my husband-- told him that I was going to do, and that I might turn a little obsessive.  He was fine, as long as I didn't have him helping me clip. I'm going to try and write these as I go. I have a few little ones I need to write to sort of "get up to date", but then Ill just write as I find things, and record my "hauls". Hopefully I'll learn a few things along the way, and maybe you will too. 


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