Couponing for Beginners – A Step by Step Guide to Saving More Money
Couponing is a great way to save money, but many people have no idea where to start. I was able to cut my food budget in half with these couponing tips. Follow this couponing for beginners step by step guide to saving more money with coupons.
Couponing for Beginners
I have been couponing for many years now. I have been able to cut our family grocery budget in half by using the following techniques. No, we do not eat boxed potatoes every night, and my kids do not live on fruit snacks and pop tarts. That is a huge myth about couponing and the only thing you can save money on is junk. NO, it is not correct and I am going to dispel this myth right now. We eat well. We eat fresh fruit and vegetables. We eat meat and fish. We eat healthy and well and still save a lot of money.
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You need to examine your why so you can decide how much time you want to invest. Couponing is not for everyone, and that is okay. If you are big on ROI (return on investment), saving a dollar or two on your groceries might not be for you. But, there are many people out there where a dollar or two makes a difference every single week. An hour or two per week of planning my grocery trips is really worth it for me since I normally can cut my bill in half. Think of it as if you are making $25-$50 per hour. Now does it seem worth it?
You may need to cut expenses just to make the rent or you want to cut the grocery bill so you can save for a big ticket item or a vacation. There are many reasons to use coupons. Even millionaires try to get the best deal on their purchases.
Where to find coupons
I buy one paper a week for the ads and that includes one set of coupons. I also get coupons from a few different online vendors if I need extras. To get coupons for free, I print them. A little money saving tip when printing coupons, print in black and white. 99% of stores will accept the black and white coupons. You cannot make copies of those coupons that you print. There is a unique way that printed coupons are tracked and copies are illegal. There are mobile coupons too. (All apps are listed below)
My grocery list comes from my weekly meal plan and anything I know we have run out of in the past week. I meal plan every single week and that alone saves us a lot of money. Creating a budget friendly meal plan does not have to be hard. I also stockpile groceries, so I do not run out of staples and can stock up on them when they are cheap or free!
Be sure to download the FREE printable grocery list below. I find my shopping goes much smoother when I have a list that not only lists the groceries that I need but also includes the coupon match up as well.
Go through the Sales Ads
So now that the grocery list is made, start going through your ads. What meats do you already have? I keep a freezer inventory up to date so I can see what I have on hand, you can find a free printable in my Meal Planning Bundle. What do you need for your meal plan? What is on sale where? This will all help formulate your grocery list, what you actually need to feed you and your family for the week.
Match Sales With Coupons
This is your opportunity to match sales with coupons. This is how you save even more money. There are some websites out there that will help you match up your coupons with the sales every week. My favorite is Living Rich with Coupons. Cindy and her crew are absolutely amazing with the match-ups every week.
This is where it really pays to know your prices. For example, you know your limits on what you spend per pound on meat. So if there is a big sale on a certain type of meat, that is when you stock up a little, as your budget allows. Or cans of veggies, or cereal, or milk, you get the picture.
Most of the time, you can only use one coupon per item. But there are times when you can stack coupons. Sometimes there is a coupon in the ad and if you have a manufacturer’s coupon, you can stack those two and save even more money. There will even be times when you will hit on a money maker, meaning that your final price after the coupons falls below $0.00. WIN!
How to organize coupons
I use file folders and part of a drawer in my desk. I label each folder with the month. I write the date on the front of each set of coupons for the week. If you look at the side of the set, you will see the date. Coupons are in the paper almost every week, except for holidays.
I file each month’s set of coupons separately. File folders work perfect for this, especially the pretty ones. This is really beneficial if you can grab a few extra sets from family and neighbors. Keeping the whole set intact is much easier than cutting each coupon out every week. It is easier to search for them if they are intact and you can just look them up by month and then by Red Plum (RP), Smart Source (SS), or P & G (PG). When you are using a match up website, they will list the source of the coupon so it will be easier to find if it is still intact in the set it came in. See why I write the date on the front of each set? Easy to find!
An expanding file folder will also work well for keeping all of your coupons and is portable.
When I am shopping, I keep all of my cut coupons sorted by store in a mini coupon organizer.
Apps to download
Ibotta – If you are not using Ibotta to save a little money every week, you are missing out! Sign up here for Ibotta and receive a $10 bonus. Make sure to redeem your first offer within 7 days to qualify for the $10 bonus. Simply find rebates from popular stores and then after purchase, you have to scan the barcode and then the receipt, sometimes just the receipt. And just like that, a little extra cash back. Included are not only grocery stores, but drug stores, convenience stores, clothing stores, online stores among others. There are bonuses to complete for a few extra dollars every month and you can also team up with your friends and save even more!
Checkout 51 – New offers are added to Checkout 51 every week, so make sure to browse your offers weekly, since they change quickly. The offer period starts on Thursday and ends on the next Wednesday. The offers are available at a variety of stores and for a variety of items. Saving more is as simple as buying what is on your list and then uploading your receipt. Once you reach $20 in savings, which will not take long at all, you can request your money. What I absolutely love about Checkout 51 is that you can redeem multiple offers on a product. Just last week, for example, I was able to redeem an offer for gum 5 times. And I was able to stack that offer with a store cash back offer, making the gum completely free.
Coupons.com – this is a must. Download onto your phone and take your coupons on the go. You do not have to even print them out! Just scan them at the register and save. Be sure to look at all of your local offers, there is usually a freebie included. I have been able to get potatoes, eggs, bananas, avocadoes, oranges and more for free! You can print coupons from this app as well, so you can double the amount of printable coupons, since there are limits to how many you can print.
As far as the printable coupons, I try to print them through Swagbucks. You can get SB’s (swagbucks) for just printing and then 10 SB’s for using the coupon.
Some things to remember are:
- Just because you have a coupon doesn’t mean you have to use it. Only use what you need and what you know you are going to need. This is where people go crazy overboard and buy 35 tubes of toothpaste or 50 boxes of cereal.
- Try to find as many free coupons as possible. A lot of people get them in the mail weekly and throw them away. Ask your friends and family for theirs. Don’t be shy about saving a little money.
- Know the policies at stores and the terms and conditions on the coupons you use. They are all different and it pays to know this going in.
I have cut my grocery bill in half using these methods. It really does work. If you use this step by step guide to reduce your budget by a small percentage every week, you will learn and build on that experience.