Coupons – Making them work for you

Posted by idawrites on May 17, 2008 in Coupons, Frugal |

There is an interesting discussion going on over at BoingBoing about coupons and how much they aren’t worth the effort. Now, the girl given in the short example post isn’t very realistic… sorry Christy. For one, she does her couponing at seven stores, primarily Publix, and even with coupons they’re often significantly more expensive than (my favorite) Kroger, although sometimes they have FABULOUS deals and I snatch them up too.

So, the down and dirty plan for grocery shopping that has been successful for me goes something like this:
*Buy 2 copies of the Sunday Paper – If you buy them on Sunday, you can buy the doubles for less money.

*Go to Couponmom.com on Monday and access the List for Kroger, Publix, and CVS. Check the running list of what I need against the sales prices and coupons I have for them.
NOTE: Couponmom lists the week of the circular for the coupons, so I never clip them before I need them. I use a 3 hole punch and keep the circulars in chronological order in a binder until I need them.

*Check the coupon blogs for tips on printable coupons for sale items that will make the price free or next to free.

*Check my Miscellaneous Coupons pouch for any coupons I’ve received in the mail with my free samples.

*Do a quick Google search for any printable coupons for items on the list that I need but don’t have a coupon for.

All of the gathering probably takes me an hour total. Then,

*I print the list for each store and put all of the coupons I need in the envelope for that store with the list.

*Mentally map my route to make one circle and not waste gas.

*Go to Publix and ONLY get what is on the list. – 10 minutes
*Go to Kroger and ONLY get what is on the list. – 30 to 45 minutes, depending on the checkout line.
*Go to CVS and ONLY get what is on the list. – 5 to 10 minutes.

As a general rule, I can feed my family of 5 on $75 to $80 a week, including all toiletries and miscellaneous household items. It takes me roughly 2 to 2 1/2 hours per week, including the shopping itself. This saves me a LOT of time. Before I shopped with a list and did my research before leaving the house, I made 3 to 4 trips to the store every week to pick up forgotten or needed things. I also ended up spending lots of extra money on impulse buys.

No additional expenditures on gas because I plan my route to maximize fuel economy. I also don’t have to make those emergency runs to the store during the week anymore, so I am actually SAVING money on gas. I shop for gas at the grocery store, so I don’t have to make extra trips to stop for that either.

Happy Dance Note: Yesterday I was out and about and stopped at Kroger just because I had cereal coupons. I got 4 boxes of Honey Bunches of Oats and 2 bunches of bananas for $.94 …behold, the power of coupons.



  • Allison says:

    Hi, I found you through your comment on the boingboing discussion. I think what you’re doing is great and I also employ similar strategies. My theory is why pay $30 more a week if you don’t have to? That’s $1500 a year just thrown away.

    I was kind of put off by the comments on boingboing, but I’m thinking many of them are young, single people with well-paying jobs who don’t have kids. I know I had a similar attitude when I was younger. But now that I’m a WAHM I think differently.

    I’ll add your blog to my blogroll.

  • Notes From The Frugal Trenches says:

    Great post! We don’t have coupons here like you do in the US. I remember when I was working abroad being amazed at coupons and deals! I think you make some great points. You have to be balanced don’t you? So many people buy something simply because it is on sale, which of course won’t work. But if you can buy and save with coupons, why not?!

  • Momma says:

    @allison Thanks! I look forward to reading your blog as well 🙂

    @notes from the frugal trenches – thanks for the comment 🙂 I think that many of us here in the states don’t realize how good we have it and just how many opportunities we really do have to economize.

  • juliana-shines says:

    I’m in the grocery game. Gave you the credit

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