If you're new to couponing (I so hate that every time I use that word, it shows up with a red wavy line. It's a real word! I swear!) I highly recommend you check out some tutorials on Southern Savers first. Jenny explains the basics way better than I every could!
Keep in mind that Southern Savers focuses on stores in the Southeast, and store policies/prices/etc differ through the states. Much of what Jenny talked about applies specifically to Florida, where we mostly shop at Publix or Winn Dixie, because we are different than many other states in the SE (no doubling, true BOGO sales, etc) If you live outside of this region, there are multiple other websites out there that can help you maximize your savings!
Here's what I learned:
- "Lowest Price" for an item is usually 40%-50% off of normal retail. I should not be buying a product if it has not hit it's lowest price. For most products, this happens every 6 weeks or so.
- Stock Up and only buy what is on sale. This requires committing to shopping weekly-- something I need to work on! If something is on sale and I don't buy it because I don't go grocery shopping that week, it means I won't see the lowest price for another six ways, and I'll probably be forced to buy it at a higher price.
- Get 2 Sunday Papers: The main reason for this is so that when items are Buy One Get One Free you can use two coupons, even though you're really only paying for one of the items. We get one paper delivered daily, and I think what I will do is when it is a "good" week for coupons, I will purchase another Sunday paper.
- Ask for Coupons: Jenny shared how her husband recently became gluten free, and she was having a hard time finding coupons that worked for this. She started calling gluten free companies and asking for coupons--and lo and behold, every single one of them sent her coupons! All you have to do is call customer service for a specific company, ask that coupons be mailed to you, and most companies will oblige.
- Ask for Coupons at Customer Service: This applies mostly to Publix, which is where I shop mostly. You know how there are a million little machines and tear pads spread throughout the store with coupons? If you ask at customer service, most stores have a stack of all of these coupons ready for you and you can skip the treasure hunt. Amazing!
- Saving Star and UPromise: These sites offer e-coupons that can be loaded onto your store loyalty card (Winn Dixie) or UPromise card (Publix) and the savings goes into an online savings account. With SavingStar, you can cash out your account once it hits $5; with UPromise, the savings are placed into a long term savings account for your child (or future child).
- Don't Clip the Coupons: This is where I was having the most trouble. I would go through the Sunday inserts, clip out only coupons for products that we normally buy, and then toss the rest. Later on, I would see a great deal to match a coupon I didn't clip, and regret it. Jenny's suggestion is to save the entire Sunday inserts, and not clip anything. Just save them whole. Then, each week, when it's time to shop, you can use Southern Savers to match up the weekly ad to coupons, clip out the coupons you need, and go to the store. This is my plan from now on. While I have to admit that I kind of missed flipping through the inserts this morning and getting excited about what I found, I know this will save me more money in the long run.
- Save on Produce & Meat: This is the hardest part for me, and likely for everyone. They don't make many coupons for fresh produce and meat, and the sales aren't always amazing deals. Jenny offered suggestions for both.
- Buy Local (for both): For produce, join a CSA or shop at a Farmer's Market. I use the Neighborhood Garden for organic produce and have been impressed so far. For meat, try a local butcher shop--their prices are actually around the same as grocery store sale prices and you may be able to negotiate.
- Know your prices: For bargaining power at the Farmer's Market, use www.marketnews.usda.gov to research Federal prices for produce.
- Buy in Bulk: Whether you purchase a whole cow from your butcher (not an option with an apartment sized freezer!) or shop meat sales such as Zaycon.
If you have any questions, please ask. I'll do my best to answer! Happy Couponing!