Thursday, January 19, 2012

Couponing 101 or How to Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half

Hi!  My name is Sabrina and I'm a coupon addict.

Well, not quite that bad unless you talk to my husband and then he might agree with you that yes, in fact, it is that bad.  Hey, I only have a small stockpile of cereal, toothpaste and dog treats nothing like an entire room dedicated to my binge bargaining.

I typically save around 50% on my weekly grocery bill by using coupons and in store sales.  I've had some friends ask me how I do it so I figured I'd share it with everyone else.

1.  Get organized!  If you don't already have a way to sort and organize your coupons then you need something STAT.  I found an old small accordion file that my husband used for sorting his bills before we got married.  I stuck some labels on it and I was good to go.  Some of the categories I use are:  Pets, Dairy, Health & Beauty, Cereal/Bread, and Frozen Foods.  You can use whichever ones make sense for you.
It is a little beat up and missing a label, but it still works for me! 

2.  Start clipping those coupons!  The easiest way to get them is from your Sunday paper (always check to make sure they are still in there before you purchase).  We get the Red Plum inserts in our weekly mail every Wednesday.  You can also find them on  The stores out here also have coupons in their weekly fliers (hang on to these for later) or online.  I print out a lot of coupons from  Also, if you haven't already then sign up for  She posts great deals on her blog, her Facebook page and Twitter.  She also sends a daily digest email of the deals she has posted.

3.   Match your coupons to the stores' sales.  This step is when those weekly store fliers that I told you to hang on to come into play.  They should all be for local stores so you are not driving out of your way and wasting gas in the process unless you live somewhere really rural.  This step is time consuming so make sure you have at least an hour set aside.  You'll need your organized coupons, weekly fliers, pen and paper plus your shopping list.  What you need to do is go through your weekly flyer and match up your coupons to what is on sale.  Doing that is what is going to save you the most money.  If you can swing it financially you'll want to look at stuff that you might not need now, but you know you are going to use it in the future (hence the reason I have so many tubes of toothpaste and boxes of cereal).  I write down the sale price of an item then how much the coupon is going to save me and then the final price.  This step also helps me really stay on budget because I can total it out at the end.  If you have older kids this can really turn into a great math lesson.

Be sure to keep your coupons organized especially if you plan on hitting up multiple stores.  Another way to maximize your savings is to buy the smallest amount of an item.  Yes, you can save a dollar off that giant bag of popcorn, but can you buy a smaller bag and save even more money or maybe even get it for free?

4.  Check your stores' coupon policy.  All of the major stores have theirs listed on their website.  You might even want to print it out especially if they let you do double coupons or stacking just in case you need to haggle with a cashier who isn't up on their store's latest policy (they can change frequently, unfortunately).    Stacking is using both a manufacturer's and a store's coupon on 1 item which is another great way to get deep discounts.  For more information on the fine print on coupons check out the The Krazy Coupon Lady's website.  

5.  Keep a log of stores' prices.  This is a bit of Extreme Couponing here.  For about a month I kept a small log book with me to write down the price at each store of commonly purchased items.  I now know where to go if I need the cheapest chocolate syrup, but more importantly I also know what price is a good deal and what isn't.  There are also some stores that I will never shop at because they are just to expensive even when their stuff is on sale and I have a coupon.

6.  Shop at discount or bargain stores.  Here in Western Washington we have WinCo and Grocery Outlet.  WinCo lets you use coupons but they don't print weekly fliers as a way to keep costs down.  Also, when they first opened the store's cashier told me all of their sale items are in the aisle when you first walk in the door.  Grocery Outlet does NOT let you use coupons because then some of their items would be free (darn).

This might sound like a lot, but I learned this all over time and it really does take some time and dedication to get used to doing it.  I'm at the point now where I can't even fathom going to the grocery store without my coupons. It is just a waste of money!  So my advice is to take it slow and don't give up.  You can shave 50% off your grocery bill too.

Some Couponing Sites to Check Out:

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