The Secrets Of The Coupon Sisterhood

   

    As the holidays approach, I am ever more mindful of staying within my budget because I am fully aware that buying Christmas presents is going to take me completely outside of my normal monthly expenses.  Lately, I have been paying more and more attention to posts from my fellow bloggers regarding cutting coupons and meal planning.  Now, those of you who know me personally know that I am the least domesticated diva that you will ever meet.  Actually, I applaud all of those women who are talented in this area because I’m aware that it requires a lot of work and it is definitely not my forte.

    Having children, though, has a way of forceably domesticating you to some extent.  I cook out of necessity and because I genuinely enjoy seeing my boys eating meals that I prepared and that I know will be good for them.  Unfortunately, my newfound culinary endeavors have met with ever increasing grocery prices.  It seems like I am constantly spending obscene amounts at the supermarket and I would love to know the secret to couponing and getting so many items for free.  Sure, there are many sites and blogs out there aimed at showing you the ropes and pointing you in the right direction in terms of finding valuable coupons.  It must be just me because I don’t get it.

    The only way that I could picture this whole couponing thing being remotely possible is if I had hours and hours of free time to search for coupons in all of the newspapers, magazines, and circulars.  After that, I would have to make more time to cross reference the supermarket flyers to see which ones are offering the best deals on which products.  Wait, we are still not done!  Then, I would have to plan all of the meals that I was going to prepare for my family around all of the foods that I had coupons for as well as the items that are on sale in the weekly flyer.  Is your head spinning yet?  I’m sorry but I just don’t see where I would find the time to do all of this and work a full-time job along with taking care of the kids and the house.

    Yet, I know that there are a lot of working Moms who coupon and do it effectively.  So, I guess the million dollar question is, “How do they do it?”  Unfortunately, I do not have the answer to this as I am a novice in this department myself.  I am, however, very eager to learn because I am tired of spending hundreds of dollars a month to feed a family of four.  I’m thinking I must be doing something wrong because I just read recently about a family of five who coupons and meal plans and they manage to stay within a 250 dollar a month budget for groceries.  Believe me, I didn’t think that it was possible either but, apparently, a lot of families have similar food expenses monthly.  These families are eating well and their children are not going without, it is just a matter of being frugal and spending wisely.

    As a working Mom, I would like to know how I can decrease my grocery expenses while at the same time not spend valuable hours couponing and store hopping.  What are some of the tricks that you guys use to stay within a certain grocery budget?  I’m sure that a lot of my readers would also love to learn more about this so please chime in with your experiences and feedback.  I will be creating a follow up post to this one outlining the most time efficient ways, that you guys shared, to cut down on monthly food spending without cutting into time that is better spent with your children and as a family.  I’m sure where there is a will, there is a way… 

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Comments

  1. Yep Maria, with Christmas approaching and having not worked since April I’m thinking of ways of creatively saving dollars also. One way I know we save in the grocery area is when I plan our weeks meals BEFORE I go grocery shopping. When I know my weeks meal plan I seem to be so much more organised with the thing I purchase and don’t overstock or buy “extra’s”. It also means I am organised, and can also work on meals that use similar items but aren’t necessarily repeats. It makes me more aware of what is in the pantry, what we have plenty of, etc. I don’t trawl for coupons but I do keep my ears open for extra special deals, as I figure what I would spend in time and money in petrol just to save a few cents is not worth it. However for those super dooper specials it is worth keeping ears open to. Ciao

    • Maree, I hope the economy starts to look up so you can find a job to help with the finances. I think we are all taking inventory of how much we are spending these days. I’m finding that as my boys get older, everything costs more from clothing to food. While I want to enjoy a good quality of life, the reality is that it is important to cut corners whenever possible. I really appreciate your feedback and I will definitely include it in the “couponing bag of tricks.”

  2. I wish I had some words of wisdom for you, but I promise you that I’m worse than you could ever be! Luckily, there’s just the two of us. We can always just eat cereal if we need to! 😉

  3. I am a new follower of yours from the FMBT hop! Please stop by and follow back when you get a chance.

    Happy Thanksgiving.

    Jodi
    http://amomhavingfun.blogspot.com
    http://www.jodishomebiz.com

  4. I am new to the coupon arena as well and do spend about 2 hours a week clipping coupons, tracking down deals, etc. We spend around $400/mo now on a family of 5, not as good as some, but still pretty frugal in my opinion.

    There are great tutorials out there – Lynn @mavenofsavin has some facebook chats around couponing and is very supportive and responsive to her readers. Andrea at the Savings LIfestyle is also very good…

    I don’t do the meal planning thing though. I just make meals with what I have. If I thaw chicken then I figure out a recipe to use chicken. Sometimes that means I pick up a red pepper or a head of broccoli on my way home from work, but that’s ok with me. It has really cut down on the wasted produce expense we had previously.

    It all does take time though and the return on investment of my time isn’t all that great. If I spent that same time working Overtime at my regular job I’d be further ahead. However, I like the “hunt” for a deal and don’t want to spend any more time at work, so for me it’s fun too.

  5. Lemme tell ya, this is a topic I could go on about for AGES! (Hence the username! LOL) Personally, I clip and file the majority of my coupons when I’m watching TV with my hubby at night. I’m a stay-at-home mom, so I have that “downtime” in the evening, I can’t really speak to the working mom aspect.

    But honestly, once you start getting the hang of it, the whole process goes much more quickly. The key is to use your coupon when the item is at it’s very lowest price, and buy as many as you will use in a 3-month period. Then when you run out of say, ketchup, you know you have some stored away, and you don’t have to run out and pay full price for it!

    The sales cycles average about 3 months, so you will have an idea of when the item will be at a rock-bottom price again…

    • I like the part when you said that it is best to use the coupon when the item is at its lowest price. I never would have thought to do that if you hadn’t mentioned. This is why they say that two heads are better than one. I love the idea of stocking up on groceries and just filling in staple items when they run out. It certainly would make our lives easier in terms of time management and sticking to a budget.

  6. You are right, there are tons of blogs out there so here are a few things I would suggest as you get started:

    Make a list of the frequently purchased items. It helps to have all the stuff listed out. For food, possibly look at what your kids enjoy eating the most of. It sounds like they enjoy what you make so that is a good start (it seems like torture with my children, at times!).

    Find a blog that covers the stores you shop primarily. If you shop at Kroger, there are a ton of sites (like mine 😉 that list every single sale and tells you exactly which coupons to use to take advantage of that sale price to the fullest.

    Don’t go all crazy extreme with the coupons. That will make you just stop, honestly. Focus on understanding the rules and policies for that store. For example, does the store double your coupons? Do you need a loyalty card to get the price on the shelf? Those things are so important to understand and obviously impact your savings. For me, not doubling means I just don’t buy it now.

    So, those are just a few things to help you get started. Feel free to stop over and check out my Beginner’s Guide (listed under the Strategies to Save tab at the top of the page). I walk through some other tips to help you as you make your way through the overwhelming, yet rewarding walk into savings! 🙂

    • Andrea, you sound like you really know your couponing. It makes sense to try to plan my meals around the food that my kids like to eat. It would make no sense to use a whole bunch of coupons on food items that my family doesn’t even like to eat just for the sake of saving some money. I look forward to learning the ropes from you through your feedback and your blog.

  7. Maria – BABY STEPS! I recommend starting with one grocery store and one drugstore. Then find a frugal blogger that does the coupon match-ups. WE DO IT FOR YOU. We even tell you where to get the coupons. I honestly only clip when I need them – I just hang onto the inserts until then. So I spend probably and hour to clip and plan my trip from the already prepared coupon match-up. Occasionally I will store hop, BUT ONLY FOR A ROCKIN’ deal. I have a few tutorials on my site if you are interested and if you let me know what grocery store you shop at, I can recommend a blogger if I do not cover it.

    Let me know how I can help!

    • Lynn, I love your advice. This whole process can be very overwhelming so I feel comfortable with focusing on one grocery store and one drugstore. I think I could handle that right now. It sounds like your system is pretty time efficient so I look forward to learning from you on your “couponing bag of tricks.”

  8. It would be great to sign up for your local grocery store’s weekly offer to decide what bargains they have for you in their store. Plan your meals based on what they bargained for. I bet you can also find other discount products they offer for household and/or personal use.

    Following your lovely blog and inviting you to add this at http://olahmomma.com/momlounge – a mommy blogger directory and more, where you can also meet more mom bloggers like you and get connected with them by visiting your profile after registration. You can Shout there too:)

    You can also add there your giveaways and business links; get featured by sharing your crafts, recipes and interesting musings.

    Following us back is deeply appreciated. Thanks and have a great day!

    BLR Graham
    http://olahmomma.com — blogging and connecting blogging moms.
    {all moms welcome}

    P.S. Join my Betty Crocker Package Giveaway by visiting http://olahmomma.com/betty-crocker-instant-mashed-potato-review-giveaway. More giveaways at http://olahmomma.com/momlounge/just_listed_giveaways

    • Thank you so much for chiming in with some great feedback. This is exactly the part that I am a little nervous about, the store hopping. I realize that some research has to be done in order to decide which grocery chains have the best sales. However, this seems like a time consuming process.

  9. don’t having those store club card things eliminate the need to clip coupons?

    • I’m not sure that having those cards guarantees that you will get all of the savings that you get from using coupons. This whole issue is really confusing to me. Thank goodness there seem to be a lot of experts on how to do it because I would be lost in the sauce otherwise.

  10. oh yes and I forgot to mention I featured you in my last post as my 60th follower!!!

  11. Thank you so much for spreading the word about Scrap of Love for Tyler. WE are so grateful for the support and backing!
    Heather – Scraps of Love

  12. I know what you are saying! I felt the same when I first started. Now, I won’t shop without coupons. I don’t do the whole meal planning thing, I use what I have. I have been able to create a stockpile from saving money. Now, I just buy what is on sale AND match a coupon to it. I have managed to get a lot of items for free or just a few cents. The trick is having the stockpile, so you don’t have to buy items at full price. Then there are all those samples! I don’t think I will ever need to buy shampoo or lotion again! Follow me on my website and I will try to post more articles about how it is done. I might just be able to change your mind! I am following you.

    • Hi, Diane. I like the idea of not having to meal plan. It seems pretty restrictive to me and I like to be spontaneous sometimes with regards to what I cook in the evening. It would be wonderful to have a supply of toiletry samples. I spend a lot of money monthly on items such as shampoo, deodorant, and hairspray. I would love to read some posts on how it is done from someone who is an expert at doing it. Right now, I feel like the process is not all that user friendly. Maybe I feel that way because nobody has really taken the time out to show me, step by step, how to save money by couponing.

  13. Great advice. I am your newest follower please follow me back at http://mizzreviewlady-mommyreviews.blogspot.com/

  14. I know you saw my post on couponing and commented and I know you know I don’t have umpteen hours to devote to it. The two most common myths about couponing are: 1. Coupons are for junk food and 2. It takes HOURS.

    #1: Find a blog in your area that does the work for you. Go to http://www.becentsable.net/store-deals/ Scroll down to the grocery deals by state and find one that works for you.

    #2: Find a way to organize your coupons that works best for you! If you find a blog that gives you the source of the coupon (ie online, or which newspaper insert) you don’t have to cut every single coupon you MIGHT use.

    #3: Stockpile. Buy items when they are on sale AND you have a coupon. If spaghetti sauce is on sale for $1.00 and you have a $1.00 coupon it’s free. Buy it. Even if you don’t plan on having spaghetti. Even if you hate spaghetti, buy it and donate. 🙂

    #4: Ask the successful couponers for help. I think you will find that we love sharing the knowledge.

    Also, there is an AWESOME coupon “class” that will be on sale tomorrow for $5.00. It is DEFINITELY worth the $5, especially because it is norally $25. I’ll send you the link. If I forget please remind me.

    • Jill, this is some great advice that us “novices” can really put to practical good use. I will definitely use your tips in the follow up post on couponing. I would love more information on the couponing class…

  15. http://realmomreviews.blogspot.com/
    Following your blog!
    Please follow back!

Trackbacks

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  9. […] in order to reduce my monthly grocery bill.  You can read all about my couponing concerns here, The Secrets of the Coupon Sisterhood. As promised, I have compiled a list of couponing do’s and don’ts from some of my […]

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