Okay, so here’s the thing. I don’t pay retail for anything. Ever. If you are patient enough and pay attention, you don’t really have to. I am just an average stay-at-home-mom who wants the best for my family, but doesn’t want to pay a lot for it. I shop with coupons.
Learning to shop with coupons is not hard. It is even easy for those of us who are mathematically challenged. (Yay for cell phones with calculators built in.) If you have never shopped with coupons now is the time. This is free money! If some one gave you 50 cents and said “Hey, if you walk into that store and hand this to the cashier, they will give you $1.00” you’d do it, right? Although coupons are not redeemable for cash, that is basically the premise behind shopping with coupons.
If you are going to shop with coupons (and why wouldn’t you) just check with your favorite stores online or in person to see what their coupon shopping policies are. Most will at least double a coupon up to $1.00. And if you check your sales circulars, many times you can get more deals when you “stack”. Stacking means being a coupon shopper who layers the savings. For instance, let’s say you are committed to saving money on groceries and General Mills cereals is on sale at Kroger for $1.99 a box. That is a pretty good deal. But not for a coupon shopper! If you have a manufacturer’s coupon for $1.00 off 2 GM cereals (these are out there constantly) then you are getting each box of name brand cereal for $1.50 a box. And Kroger has a rewards program, you can get ecoupons that are attached to your scanned card at check out. Usually these are small, but not always. So, using the cereal example above, you could use an ecoupon as well and pay even less than that $1.50. And yes you can usually shop with coupons from the store, and the product manufacturer at the same time.
In addition to clipping coupons from the newspaper inserts, there are a TON of coupon websites, coupon blogs, and coupon forums, like the site where I got hostgator black friday coupons to host this website. These are great. They all have a limit of how many can be printed, but most of these websites have many of the same coupons so the savvy coupon shopper can print the max from each site. But check the expiration dates. I find that printable coupons expire sooner than those from the paper. That being said, some stores are okay with you using expired coupons.
The Extreme Way to Shop With Coupons
I watch shows on TV about people who take coupon shopping to the extreme and found it mostly unrealistic and kind of disturbing. The state where I live (Michigan) doesn’t triple coupons. Plus the fact, now those people have ruined it for us normal coupon shoppers because many retailers are changing their coupon policies and limiting “stacking”, which is how people were able to coupon shop to the extreme. I am not willing to dumpster dive for coupon mailers, subscribe to a coupon clipping service, or buy dozens of Sunday newspapers. I watched as one woman cleaned out a grocery store shelf of an item she was getting for free. I don’t think that is how to grocery shop with coupons the right way.
I mean, just because you CAN do that doesn’t mean you SHOULD. Don’t get me wrong, if you can get 147 bottles of hand soap for free, go for it. But maybe call ahead and see if the store will set aside or order extra soap for you, so you don’t take every last one and leave hundreds of other people unable to get their own soap that week. Sure could those poor soap less coupon shoppers get a rain check? Yep. But as a mom with two young kids, if I have to keep going back and forth to the store multiple times a week, it is not only a colossal waste of time, gas, and energy but it just ticks me off.
Shop With Coupons Regularly and You Are Putting Money Back in Your Pocket
If you shop with coupons on a regular basis, I can tell you that there is definitely a pattern to what goes on sale when and what types of things have coupons out at any given time. But there are certain items that will always have coupons. All the time. And by “all the time” I mean if not every week, then at least once or twice a month consistently. These are things such as breakfast cereal, toilet paper, paper towels, and tampons. And the beauty of shopping with coupons for these items is that they are also items that go on sale frequently as well and are not perishable, so they are easy to stock up on as long as you have the storage space. Which brings me back to a tv show I watched about an extreme coupon shopper. This woman was storing things like canned soup and paper towels in her children’s bedrooms because everywhere else was full. Under beds, in closets, I am talking full to the brim. OMG, really? Having enough TP and pork & beans to last you through 2014 isn’t enough, you have to throw out your kids toys just to stock the stuff? To me, that is just not worth the price of free. And yes, I know not every person is going to want to shop with coupons like this. I know because I am one. Few things make me happier than an item on sale plus a coupon! But let’s be responsible coupon shoppers, people. I always go to the grocery store with coupons and I hope to leave with some too. If you don’t shop with coupons, you might be throwing money away.
P.S. If you can’t use your shower because your tub is an extra overflow storage unit for all your stuff, think about maybe donating some to a homeless shelter or food bank. Just sayin’, it could happen if you shop with coupons.