To refresh your memory here is Frugal Foodies Pt.1
continuing on, here is part 2………
Coupons: myths debunked, where to find them, how to use them properly
Coupons have been around for a long time in some shape or form. They first came out around 1887 by Coke Cola Company that mailed them to clients, customers, and employees as a way to make their product affordable to all, which obviously increased their sales. Coupons became widely spread in 1909 and have expanded to what it is today where the estimated that more than 2,800 businesses offer coupons for their product or services. In 2011, consumers used coupons to save an estimated 4.6 billion dollars on their purchases of packaged goods. In the last few years, around the time the recession hit, couponing started becoming more popular with people from all classes, not just the poorer people. Of course TV took advantage of this and had the show Extreme Couponing, which introduced us all to people who walk away with tons of free items, which they all store throughout their homes. If you watch some episodes you can see, that 90% or more of the things they got, weren’t healthy. And it wasn’t realistic, since not everyone could do what these people do. Everyone who watched it were stunned at their haul and wanted to learn how they could do that themselves. The simple answer to that is, we can’t, unless we commit to it as our second job or we are willing to do what some of these people have to do to get coupons. For me, I found another way of working the grocery system with healthy foods, that are either free, cheap, and affordable. These tips and ideas that have proven to be a success for my family, is what I will be sharing with you today.
Just remember, coupons are a great way to save money but if you fall into the trap, it is also a way to spend a lot more than you are saving.
*start slow by starting in one area if you are overwhelmed- work your way up as you gain the knowledge of using coupons properly.
*acquiring coupons- you shouldn’t have to pay for them unless you want to. There are numerous places in town that you can get them from: the recycling center (lets you go in and look through the massive newspaper section, if you want), town library, churches, and schools have a spot (this is the only place I used to get them, now I buy papers because we need them to line my pythons cages), local stores like (Little Roy’s, Shaw’s, and some convenience stores.) All you have to do is ask and they are all willing to give you the coupon inserts. *But don’t worry if you can’t get them around town or buying a paper, you can always get them online. This can seem overwhelming when you first start, but there are so many sites that can help you with this. Instead of looking at all the flyers and trying to match coupons with sales (which is very time consuming that most of us don’t have time for), there are sites that do the work for you and they send you emails telling you what sales match which coupon daily. They put links to the online ones, which makes hardly any work on your part. It takes me 30 minutes to look at my emails, browse my FLYER, look at my weekly meals, and put my list and coupons together for shopping day. I will go into more details when I discuss using the internet.
*using them properly- coupons are helpful and can save you a lot of money, if you know how to use them properly to maximize your savings. If not, you are falling into the “coupon trap”. In the trap, you end of spending more money, getting things you will never use, and getting multiples of the items you won’t use. After years of failure and trying different techniques that other used, which never worked for me, I found a method that does work for us and I get lots of free things too. Just not as much in the way of quantities like the extreme couponers. A few methods I use are:
*95% of my coupon usage is at DRUG & discounts stores, which I end up scoring a lot of free items like makeup, household cleaning items, kid products, and foods.
* Stack coupons with store sales. Most stores have their own coupons, so if you use one for their coupons combined with a MANUFACTURER COUPON, you get double savings, which is the easiest way to get some cheap or free items.
*know which items go on sale during the year (see handout)
*know what produce comes in what season (see handout)
*know which stores double coupons up to $.99 (Shaws and Stop ‘n’ Shop)
*know which stores have their own double and triple coupons. Using these make any of your coupons double or triple. These are usually only offer every 3-4 months.(*Price Chopper +Shaws on occasion)
* Join the store loyalty program
*Get familiar with store couponing policies
*Use overages to get free stuff *Not all stores offer this* (WALMART, some Targets, and Market Basket are a few that offer overages)
*STOCK up during a sale
*Start a stockpile *put $10 or less aside weekly or monthly to buy as many items as you can for your stockpile: non-perishables
*Print coupons online *couponmom, money saving mom, coupons.com: those are a few websites that you could print coupons off of.*
*Don’t get suckered into buying things you don’t needy the smaller size
*Don’t compare yourself to other *just compare yourself to the sales in the previous week, keep track of your savings and failures.*
*Utilize online resources like Savings Angel and The Grocery Game– are dedicated to helping couponers, both extreme and non-extreme, track their coupons and access discounts that would not be available otherwise to them are two more great tips via Money Crashers.
*Shopp grocery clearance sections- then use your coupons to get great deals
*shop your produce clearance & know when they mark down- there are great deals for this, and its not full of rotten or browned fruits. I have gotten great deals weekly (on Monday mornings before 10-*shaws*). You can save a ton shopping this way.
*meats @ Shaws are marked down every morning now
*produce is marked down almost daily
*seafood is every so often on Sundays
*deli has great deals with their meats for $1/lb two a month or so
* making advantage of price matching-Wal-Mart does this and makes it easy to use at the REGISTER. But you do need to bring in proof with you
*there are coupons for everything, sometimes all you have to do is just ask
*Roy’s offers meat packages- you just have to ask them to put one together with your budget. They are really friendly and nice about this. They sit down with you and offer you meat packages for any budget. Also, their quality of meats are good.
*Have fun with it…..
Meal planning: embracing the importance of this step:
This step is the most important because if you don’t plan your meals, saving money and eating healthy is all most impossible. It becomes a painful chore that no one wants to do. The good news is that meal planning doesn’t have to take hours, you can make it as simple or complex as you want. You develop your meal plan that fits you, not your friend or neighbor. That is why each plan is different and not one formula fits everyone. I have included some helpful tips to think about before we GET STARTED with the actual meal planning. Just some helpful tips I learned along the way.
* decide how much time and effort you would like to put into your meal planning,
* decide how organized you want the meal planning process to be. Just remember, you can change anything at any time, if you find something works better or you want to change things up a bit. For me, I am not a very organized person. Knowing this, my system of random papers with all my notes & menus are placed into a binder. My writing isn’t organized but I do have everything in one place, which is very helpful when I need to look back at something or if I have to take it with me for some reason. This is as organized as I am going to get, which is just fine with me because it works, so why change it?
*Remember nothing is set in stone
*It’s all about what you need in order to have a productive meal planning session.
*In the beginning, meal planning may take more time, till you get the hang of it. But once you got it down, it takes no time at all. I spend around 30 minutes per week finding new recipes to try, making my actual menu & shopping list, checking the sites to see what coupons are out there that I need, if there are any, and making sure I have everything before I leave (don’t forget a calculator, pen, & the actual store FLYER).
*You can always print blank meal planning sheets to help keep you organized online for free, if this is helpful for you
*shopping itself will take more time till you know what you can and can’t eat. Till that happens, you need to check every label, which is very time consuming but worthwhile in the end. I started doing this bringing my 5 kids with me. It was very stressful, till I got more familiar with my DIET and the foods I can eat.
Benefits of meal planning:
- You will EAT OUT LESS
- You will have a plan so you will be eating LESS PREPACKAGED MEALS
- You will ALWAYS HAVE THE GROCERIES YOU NEED
- In turn, that means you will WASTE LESS GROCERIES (how many times have you bought lettuce or broccoli with the intentions of using it and it ended up growing a science experiment at the back of your fridge?)
- All these reasons means you will SAVE MONEY
- You will eat a VARIETY OF MEALS
- Eating out less, and eating less packaged garbage means you will be eating HEALTHIER
- Your FAMILY HAS A SAY in what you are going to eat that week -kids are more likely to eat what you have cooked for them, since they may have requested it
- AVOID THE ANNOYING “WHAT’S FOR DINNER?” – They can just check the list on the fridge
- Work around ALLERGIES (like wheat, soy, etc)
- Can PLAN FOR BUSY DAYS
- LESS STRESS – no pointless staring at the fridge and cupboards “What the heck am I going to make?”
- LESS TRIPS TO THE GROCERY STORE -which also saves you money, since there aren’t impulse buys every time you go
- Planning meals is my FAVORITE part-I love looking for recipes that fit into my budget that we haven’t tried before. Starting out, what worked best for me was to break each day into a theme allowing 1 day to try a new recipe. That way if it’s a bust I won’t waste a lot of money on it. I compiled a list of other helpful meal planning tips that I use or have used before successfully.
What are some of your frugal resources that have helped you? Do you have a frugal tip to share? I would love to hear them 🙂