If you haven't joined the coupon craze, you're missing out on an opportunity to save money. Now I'm not talking about extreme couponing like on the TV show but just making some effort to cut your grocery bill, putting that money to use elsewhere. I've clipped coupons for years but often I'd forget to use them and they'd expire. Recently with all the talk about couponing, I decided to get more serious and see how much money I could save in one year's time.
I started by cleaning out my coupon box. I already had a small box with dividers for cereal, dairy, pet supplies, etc. Then I found a couple of websites with advice to help me save even more money. Of course, I set up a spreadsheet to track my savings month by month. Reading the first website gave me some good advice. Don't be partial to brands, watch for sales and try to match coupons with them, look online as well as in the paper for coupons, know when each store offers new promotions and sales, and be familiar with each store's coupon policies. Now I have a problem with the first one; brand partiality. There are some things I simply won't substitute another brand for like orange juice, the facial moisturizer I use and pet food. However, there are other things I'm willing to be flexible with to save money. I am also not going to have a closet dedicated to the stockpile of goods I've collected because I "saved money". I don't mind buying an extra tube of toothpaste or a few extra cans of vegetables but I think some people get too carried away.
So get to the good part, you may be thinking. How much money have you saved, a few bucks? Hundreds of dollars? Well maybe $166 dollars the first month doesn't impress you, but it did me. After all, if I just average $100 dollars a month, that is $1200 dollars for the whole year! And that was just the first month; hopefully, I'll do better as I go along. Of that $166, $45 was the result of using coupons, the rest was the money I saved buying things on special. So far this month, I've already saved $109. One day I even had $23 dollars in coupons. I was as excited as kid at the fair!
I've spent about an extra hour a week clipping coupons from the paper and checking online for coupons. Not too much time for the savings I'm enjoying I think. Here are the online sites I've tried and like so far: couponmom.com and dealseekingmom.com. I even sent off for some free samples for the first time today from dealseekingmom.com; horse treats, Hugo Boss cologne, and Sooo Sweet, a sweetener. The only downside I've found so far is that some sites want you to sign up for free offers and then try to sell you something so be careful. The least you can do is the make sure to sign up for and use a store's frequent shopper cards. You can even load coupons onto these cards from the store's website in some cases. I'll be writing about my savings from time to time this next year and updating you on any tips I learn.