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.