Where have I been? I have a newly renovated bathroom that kept me out of my house for a month, a walking one-year-old, and a sickly grandmother-in-law. Maybe soon I'll blog pictures & videos of the former two. But this is going to be another post is about couponing! Our blogger-friend Jenna has a funny list about "how to know if you're obsessed with coupon deals"! You should read it.
Well, I have had a great month with deal-shopping and couponing, thanks to our pastor's wife, a few websites, & the Lord from whom all blessings flow!
Rite Aid is going to be paying us for diapers, wipes, etc. that we've bought there this month (once they send the September rebate & another gift card). And yesterday I had my best ever Publix trip and a pretty successful CVS trip too. But I think I'm almost burned out on deal-shopping for the week. I can only handle so many hours of coupon clipping & trip planning. I'll blog about my deals individually, but for now I just wanted to share what I usually do, since several people have asked me.
1. I get a newspaper every week & clip all the coupons. I'm in the process of transferring my coupon collection to a large index card box with alphabetical dividers. My mother & MIL have been saving some coupons for me (thanks!) & I feel like my collection has recently grown quite a bit. I think this will save time for me in the future to just have to sort through the 12 "S" coupons rather than through my whole "toiletries" stack.
2. I sign up for free samples & save the high-value coupons that usually come with them. (MoneySavingMom regularly informs her readers of new freebies to sign up for. Of course, you have to disclose your address & sometimes other info, but it's worth it for me. I love receiving things via snail mail, and we get some kind of sample or coupon almost every day!)
3. I regularly look through coupon websites like Coupons.com or Smartsource.com & go ahead and print out some for the items that I know will be on sale or I know I'll want to purchase.
4. I weekly check BabyCheapskate for her weekly Top Diaper & Formula Deals to see if there's a "Stockupportunity". She has other resources I use, like her chart telling how many diapers are in each size pack for Huggies or Luvs or Pampers, and what's the price to beat per diaper. And I like her reviews of other diapers, too.
5. I weekly check out the CVS deals at MoneySavingMom & DealSeekingMom. Sometimes one blogger finds better deals than the other, so I read them both. My goal in planning a CVS trip is to purchase items for which I have coupons that will produce ExtraCareBucks, so that I'm spending minimal out of my pocket and getting lots of items for free or almost free. Sometimes I'll get things we don't really need (how many shampoos do we really need in storage?) so that I can get other items that we do need. But nothing is going to be wasted. Just this afternoon I was able to share out of our bounty with a friend in need by making a little gift basket of household items, and that was the most rewarding part of all this couponing/deal-seeking yet!
6. I weekly consult SouthernSavers for the Publix deals. I really like SouthernSavers because they recently added little boxes to check so you can print off your list without copying & pasting. And I just noticed they have CVS & Rite Aid too so I'll probably be looking there too in the future when I'm planning. The goal in my grocery deal planning is to buy items for which I have a coupon AND are on sale. Publix is great because when an item is buy one get one free (BOGO), you only have to buy one to get the deal (and it's half off). This is good when I can only find one coupon for the product. Publix also doubles any manufacturer that is 50 cents or less, and takes any competitor store coupons (Target, Winn Dixie, Rite Aid, CVS). Yesterday I used a printable Rite Aid $5 off $25 coupon, and they accepted it!
7. When I've made a shopping plan, I'll print it out, collect all the coupons that have been clipped or printed out, & put all the coupons in an envelope. At the store I carry my list & my envelope of coupons (and sometimes the sales flyer to reference so I can make sure to get right item). I have to purpose in my heart not to veer off my list & pick up anything else.
Right now, I only hit CVS & Publix on a weekly basis. I don't love Rite Aid's program because they give rebates, and you do have to spend money up front to get it back (you can't keep it rolling like CVS). My only experiences at Walgreens have ended with disappointment because the one closest to me refused to accept internet coupons.
I only buy diapers where I can get them the cheapest & I tend to stock up when I can get a good deal. I always have enough on hand for at least a few weeks just in case there are no really good deals. I don't ever want to pay full price for diapers!!
MoneySavingMom has a few posts about planning your menu based on the sales/coupons and buying to stock up. These are some posts I need to read again & implement even more into my planning!
I've not kept track of exactly how much time it takes me to go through the whole process -- maybe a few hours per store..? I'm hoping to get more efficient the more I do it, but I view all this work (and it IS work) as my job. A penny saved is a penny earned, right? And for us with law school, "Every dollar saved is a dollar + interest that we don't have to pay back to Jones Law School in 2011." This has been on our fridge for the last two years. It's pretty motivating!