Crafty Home Economist

Working the Dollar to Achieve Your Dreams

Series: Couponing for the Busy Couponer – Couponing Plan (3)

Couponing for the Busy Couponer

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Day 3: Couponing Plan

So far we have discussed why we should coupon and getting and organizing your coupons.  I also gave you three of my time saving tips for getting and organizing coupons.  I must say that everyone has an organization style that works for them.  You just have to find yours.

Today’s topic is developing a couponing plan.  This is what is going to help you get the biggest bang for your buck.

#1 – Lingo and Coupon Policies

I am going to link you to Couponing 101’s Coupon Glossary.  Most couponing sites use the same abbreviations.  So becoming familiar with them is of great benefit.

Couponing policies are very important.  Each store will have their own policy.  Some chains even let the local store develop their own coupon policy.  Understanding these policies will guide you in how much savings you will get.  Look for these important pieces of information:

1. Coupon doubling – up to what value and limit on how many will double

2. How many of the same coupon can be used – this can be per transaction, per day, per household, per member, etc.

3. Printed coupons – how many of the same can be used

4. Coupon stacking – using one store coupon and one manufacturers coupon on the same item

5. Competitor’s coupons – some stores will take competitor’s coupons, while some will not even take manufacturer’s coupons with another store’s logo on it (important point for peelie coupons)

6. Price matching – a great way to get even deeper discounts

7. Rain checks – don’t miss a great deal because the item is out of stock

8. Digital coupons – many stores are doing digital coupons that load directly onto your member’s card.  They often are savings in addition to paper coupons.

#2 – Budget

The number one way to save is having a budget.  There will always be tempting deals, but you don’t have to go after all of them to save big.  The easiest way to make your budget is to take the average of what you have spent on groceries the past three months.  I then further divide that by 4 for a weekly budget (since I go to the store only once a week).

Once you determine you budget, I challenge you to go a little bit lower.  Now stick to it.  This will encourage you to assess you families usage of items and prioritize the items you buy.  Some blogs tell you about developing a pricebook (a list of regularly purchased items and there regular and lowest prices).  This is not something I do, but would be useful in helping you determine rock bottom prices.  Eventually, you will know what is a rock bottom price for your regularly purchased items.

Having a budget will also help you track your spending and savings.  This is the best motivator for me.

#3 – Know Your Limit

This is a point for several areas.

1. Stockpiling: This is buying multiple (large quantities) of an item when it is at rock bottom prices and storing it.  You’ve seen the stockpiles on the television show Extreme Couponing.  I don’t encourage large stockpiles like that.  However, take note of how fast your family goes through paper product and personal hygiene items.  Purchase according to your needs and space.  The rule in our house is when you see there is one of something left, put it on the list of things to be looking for.

2. Shopping multiple stores: This works great if you have the time and energy.  However, I have found just as great success just shopping one store most of the time.  I have chosen one primary grocery store to shop at based on criteria that is important to me (great produce, large selection of organic foods, etc.).  For me, since we purchase most fruit and veggies at the farmer’s market and our meats at our local butcher, it was the store that a large selection of the dry goods we purchase and has frequent sales events (B2G3 Free and triple coupons).  Then I shop other stores when they have a sales event.

3. Start small: It is tempting to go after every deal you see.  I am at fault for that.  However, doing so can be daunting.  Just because you aren’t saving 99% when you shop doesn’t me you aren’t doing an amazing job.  My goal is to save 50% of my total purchase at regular price.  Don’t become overwhelmed with the idea of saving.  You will burn out quickly.  I also recommend you take couponing breaks.  Allow yourself a few shopping experiences where you put minimal effort into couponing.

These are the three main items in your coupon plan.  The rest is making your list based on sales and going shopping.

Time saving tips:

1. Know your store’s coupon policy so that you are organized when you put items in your cart and check out.  This saves you time (and money) and everyone else time also.

2. Know the rock bottom prices for regularly purchased items

3. Always make a shopping list and stick with it

4. Pick one grocery store and one drug store to be your primary shopping destinations

Next week we will talk about playing the savings game!

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