How To Save Money With Coupons

Grocery shopping Friday night was an adventure. I was nearly taken down by a frail, little old man wielding a shopping cart, who apparently spends entirely too much time watching NASCAR and isn't aware of the unwritten rules of "right of way" governing the aisles.
Bless his heart.
I see older fellers wandering around the store, looking lost and completely out of their element and I wonder if they're recently widowed, abandoned or if they just lost a bet with the missus. This particular old guy saw me standing off to the side, going over my coupons before getting in the checkout line and decided he'd like me to move over a tad. He had plenty of room to get by, but for reasons unknown, he felt he needed more. He rammed his cart in to my hip at least three times before he looked at me, with the glazed over look of a serial killer in his eyes and said, "exCUSE me."
Nothing like a Mister Feisty McCrankyPants at the grocery store to get you in a pissy mood.
He doesn't know how close he came to getting a econo-sized pack of feminine hygiene products up his keister right there in front of God and everybody.
Anywho.. we were going to talk about saving money with coupons, right? This trip I only had $11 in coupons, which wasn't great considering my final bill was $170. That's alot for us, I try to keep it between $100 - 150. One trip will usually last us two weeks, for three adults, three dogs and a cat. We got a scant, wee bonus in our pay this week and while everyone else is out going wild, blowing their $35 (I mean really.. why bother?) I spent a little more on the grocery bill.
Oh yeah and I probably would have saved more in coupons, but we're running a little low. That Sunday newspaper subscription? In six weeks I received three papers, only two actually on Sunday. There have been phone calls and southern fried hissy fits, the Amazon has confronted the paper carrier personally (she's a brave girl.. ya'll know the paper carrier has killed before...) and I think it's straightened out.
Big City newspaper people have caused me alot of stress ya'll.
Finding Coupons
Anywho.. I get most of my coupons from the newspaper but I get some from the checkout at the store. They print coupons based on what you normally buy, right there at the checkout. These are great for free deals and extreme discounts. There are also little coupon dispensers throughout the store, it's like a scavenger hunt looking for them.

I realize ya'lls stores might not have the same bells and whistles, but most are using those little discount cards now and I'll bet if you look around you can find coupons on the shelves.

Plan Ahead
Our store also has double coupons every day, which helps alot. They only double up to .50, requiring a little math to figure out the best deal sometimes, but if you plan ahead it's not too time consuming. The night before I do the major trip, I sit down with the sale paper for that week and compare the sale prices to what I have coupons for. For instance, if a pack of ... whatever.. is on sale for $1.50 and I have a coupon for .50, the coupon is doubled and I end up paying .50. If you figure it out ahead of time, pull your coupons and make a list before you go, you can save some serious moolah.

We use two coupon caddy envelope things. You can usually find them at discount stores for a buck or less. One is for food items only, the other is for pet items, makeup, cleaning supplies.. you get the idea. Once you start clipping, you realize that there are gobs of coupons for pet stuff and personal hygiene items.

Clip Them All, But Only Buy What You Need
I usually clip coupons for everything I may possibly buy. The only items I don't bother with are things like men's deodorant (no men in my life) and diapers (those days are done.) Everything else is fair game. I don't buy products we don't need "just because I have a coupon," but if it's going to be really, really cheap or even free, I'll grab it.

Recently we'd sworn off a particular brand of peanut butter after it had been recalled. When it was put back out on the shelves, the local store had it on sale for .88 a jar and I had a .50 coupon, which they doubled, making me .12 ahead of the game.

A Few Other Hints
Never buy anything from an end display. They put those products on the end with what looks like a sale price so that you can't compare the price to similar products. Wait until you get to the shelf location of the same product. Don't be suckered in by "5 for $5!!" signs. Stop and think. A dollar for a can of corn really isn't a deal. Actually.. it's a rip off. Check the shelves. I love how stores now are using "3 for $5" sales to make it more confusing. You almost have to take a calculator with you to figure out the "per item" price.

The easiest solution? Check the little shelf tag under the item. It should have pricing broken down into a "per ounce" or "per quart" amount. This helps when comparing packages for the better deal. Do you think the big "Family Size" box of noodles is cheaper in the long run? Not always. Checking the "per ounce" price on the shelf label can help clarify this.

Maybe this sounds a little obsessive to some of ya'll. That's okay, I have good reason to be. I make about 21K a year and I've learned to stretch a buck so thin you can see daylight through it. I think I manage okay, although admittedly, sometimes the "just manage" part of it gets a little old.

We do what we can with what we have. That's how things are done down here in the holler.

Ya'll enjoy your Sunday!

Later Taters.


kenju said...

I don't blame you for trying to maximize your money. I am on an almost fixed income now and I have to do that, plus I did it even when Mr. kenju was working and making good $$. I don't shop at the store that doubles the coupons. Most of the time (I've been told) they raise the price of the items just before they give you the doubled coupon refund. I don't know for sure, but here in Ral., the stores that do that are the most expensive in town anyway.

Mahala said...

I've heard that too, but with this particular chain it doesn't seem to be the case. Unfortunately, I don't have the option to shop around, we have one grocery store within a reasonable distance from us. The others over in TN have lower prices, but it's twice as far and the sales tax is alot more. I guess it's six of one, half dozen of the other lol.

BetteJo said...

I am HORRIBLE about this. I never have coupons and go for everything that makes my life easier. Sigh-h-h.

Guess who isn't saving any money at the grocery store?

Mahala said...

I think you're in the majority BetteJo. I rarely see people using them where I shop.

Dianne said...

what great advice mahala!, you made me want to try again.

you're definitely right about the "3 for $5" scam. I recently bought coffee, not even my favorite brand because of a big buy two/get one free sign. then I realized that my fave coffee was still cheaper!

they count on folks like me.

hope you had a lovely weekend

fresh Craig returns tomorrow!

Jeni said...

I confess I don't do the coupon thing here but my daughter does. However, she also goes for a lot of fad or new type junk food things. Don't everyone yell "Boo hiss" at once now but I do the bulk of our grocery shopping at Wal-mart and most of the items I buy regularly, I pretty much know what the price was the last time I was there, whether it's gone up over the past 3 weeks or so. I generally buy generic canned goods, compare prices while I am standing in the product zone even down to dividing numbers in my head to figure out the best per pound or whatever measurement price may be. I rarely buy meat at Wal-mart though as the little grocery store about 4 miles from home generally has the best meat prices as well as usually having a very good quality of meats too. I tend to shop there on Wednesdays so I can get my 5 percent senior citizen discount that way! For all of us here, three adults, a teenager, a 4-year-old (who could live on mac'n'che I think, and a 2 year old who we do a mix-match food thing with him - some baby foods (still) and stuff he can eat with his fingers. Some months, depending on how well I've stocked the shelves and freezer, we might spend about 250-300, once in a blue moon, it will go as high as 400, and I have even, on really rare occasions, kept it as low as $200 -very rare occasions!

Mahala said...

Yeah Dianne, my math skills leave alot to be desired, especially in the grocery store. I think they see me coming lol.

It sounds like you've got it down Jeni! Walmart does have good prices on most grocery items, but we don't have one close by. They're building a new, super-dooper-uber Wallyworld not too far from here. I can't wait.

Travel said...

My X only went into a grocery store with me once or twice, my threats to run over all of the cronic malingerers was enough to scare off all but the strongest and bravest. Shopping is a full contact sport for some of us.


Mahala said...

LOL! Maybe i should wear some shoulder pads and a helmet next time?

tiff said...

I believe in store bands. Totally. Usually teh quality is just as good as the name brand stuff, and it's almost always cheaper.

The "per ounce" or "per item" price is a godsend and my go-to bottom line for lost of things. When I get the receipt ath the end of the shopping trip, and just by using store specials and staore brands I've saved over 10% of the total bill, I get a thrill.

I'm such a goob.

Mahala said...

Ma has always pitched a holy fit against buying store brands but lately I've been sneaking a few by her. I've taken the attitude that she doesn't have to eat it. Usually, she's none the wiser though.

Joy T. said...

Great advice. I rarely use coupons and it's not because I don't want to, I always forget to pull them out and when I finally do, they're expired. I'm a bad coupon user.

Meritt said...

Oh the memories reading your blog always brings back about 'life in Nashville'.

My coupon goal each 2 weeks was to save enough to cover the sales tax.

Also - down south they still have double and triple coupons. Once you move north of the Mason Dixon line you'll be hard pressed to find that!

Ok... actually you'd also be hard pressed to find grocery stores that bag your groceries for you too! LOL. (Although my current city DOES have 2 chains of stores that do that - you won't find it in Minnesota!)