Over the past year since starting this blog, I’ve done a lot of things to try to save some money. Few, however, are as satisfying to me as using coupons. I now use coupons for so many things I buy that I absolutely loathe paying retail for anything. If you’re thinking about ways to save money but don’t know where to begin, start with coupons. Chances are you’ll get hooked when you see how much money you can save on items you normally buy.
This week through next Tuesday our local grocery store, Harris Teeter, is offering “Super Double Coupons” (which I wrote about previously here). Harris Teeter ordinarily doubles manufacturer coupons up to $.99, so if you have a coupon for $.75 off an item, you’ll actually save $1.50. During Super Double Coupons week, however, coupons up to $1.98 are doubled. So yesterday I sorted through my coupons and grabbed all the $1.00 and $1.50 off coupons, plus all the coupons that were expiring in the next few days, and went shopping. I had no shopping list — I just used my coupons as my list. I made two rules for myself though before my shopping trip:
- No buying items I wouldn’t use simply because I had a coupon.
- No buying items that weren’t good deals simply because I had a coupon. For example, I had a coupon for $1.00 off a box of a specific cereal, but the retail price of the cereal was $4.49 which, even with my $2.00 discount from my doubled coupon, was still more than I wanted to pay for cereal. (I rarely pay more than $2 for cereal now that I’ve started using coupons. When buying cereal, I almost always wait to use my coupon so that I can combine it with a store sale in order to get the best deal.)
All told, I bought 14 items using coupons and paid $12.25 (which averages to $.88 an item). Had I paid full retail for these items, they would have cost $46.75 (my savings using my Harris Teeter frequent shopper card was $10.91 and my coupon savings were $23.59), so I saved 74% overall.
While the average cost of my items was $.88, I got a few items absolutely free using my coupons: Advil (22 count), Reach dental floss, and Athenos Greek yogurt. I bought organic almond milk for $.25, tuna for $.22, soup for $.34, and pantiliners for $.49. I bought soy milk for $.99 and two boxes of cereal for $1.50 each. The most expensive thing I bought (by far, in fact) was organic eggs for $2.69.
While these savings are fantastic, I must confess that they are not typical for me, so don’t get discouraged if you try using coupons and you can’t immediately replicate 74% in savings. I normally save between 25% and 50% when I use coupons, savings that add up quickly.
If you’re new to using coupons, check out some of my coupon tutorials (which you can read here, here, here, or here). If you want to start quickly printing coupons, try to coupons.com, smartsource.com, or redplum.com. You’ll likely need to download a coupon driver to print coupons, but it’s quick and easy. If you’re interested in organic food, I often check out organicdeals.com for links to coupons for organic items. Finally, many grocery stores allow you to load electronic coupons directly onto your frequent shopper card. I do this for Harris Teeter as well as Kroger (you can also add e-coupons to your Kroger card through cellfire.com). Just be aware that e-coupons do not double (although you can use them in conjunction with a paper manufacturer’s coupon for some big savings) and I’ve had problems with the scanner not automatically deducting the e-coupon when I check out, so now I always print at home the list of coupons on my frequent shopper card and bring it with me to the grocery store. If a coupon fails to deduct, I just show my print out and the teller manually deducts it).
Now grab some coupons and go shopping!