Friday, March 29, 2013

Coupons? Sometimes...

I have been "couponing" for a few years now. At first, my couponing, while yielding large savings, was still kinda inefficient because my husband and I ended up with a bunch of stuff that we didn't need, or maybe that we needed but would use slowly. An example? I got a bunch of disposable razors from Walgreens for about $2.00 a package (these are the good ones, mind you, not the cheap ones that are normally just a little more than $2.00/package), and shortly after that, M started shaving with a safety razor and a badger brush (like a boss). :) Not only couldn't he use them, I have had laser hair removal, and do not even go through one disposable razor in 6 months. TMI? Too bad.

This is what I have had to do, when it comes to coupons: think carefully before I buy. There are parts of our lifestyle that are just not conducive to using coupons, and if there are coupons available, there are very few. Like the fact that we eat mostly fresh foods. There are countless coupons out there for boxed or packaged foods (which we love, don't get me wrong), and we do not buy a whole lot of those. When I find a coupon for a good deal on something we don't usually eat, I do not just go and buy it just because it is a good deal. You may scoff at this, but I love saving money, so the fact that it is a good deal can blind me!

Now, when I am sitting down to clip or look for coupons, I think long and hard about whether we will really use/eat the item in question, and then I decide whether or not to put it on our grocery list. We use coupons for things like laundry detergent, dish detergent, toilet paper, cat litter, pet food, and paper towels. Since all of these things are pretty expensive, the coupons help to offset the costs a little bit. We tend to buy more expensive pet food (only the best for our babies!), so when we can get coupons for that, we definitely use them.

Here are a few tips that I have learned over the last few years that keep us pretty balanced between living the way we want and saving the kind of money we would like to:

1. Find out about your local stores' coupon policies. I like going to Kroger, for example, because they double coupons up to .50. They also have deals on things we use, like frozen fruits and vegetables. Kroger has another perk: they have a savings card that earns you points for every dollar you spend there, which gets you .10 off every gallon of gas at Shell stations when you hit 100 points. I like this, because gas is expensive and there is rarely ever an opportunity to save money on it!

2. Take advantage of store coupons. Target is the first store that comes to mind when I think about this. Target allows you to use store coupons (found here) along with manufacturer coupons (like the ones you get from the Sunday paper, or from, which doubles your savings! So if you find a store coupon and a manufacturer coupon, and they are both $1.00 off, you get $2.00 off of that item. This is especially useful when the item in question is on clearance. :) Walgreens also does this, and you can get some great deals on personal care items.

3. Do your homework! There are so many deals out there to be had, and all you have to do is some research. My favorite source of information is Southern Savers. This is probably the best for those of you who reside in the South, but can offer some valuable information for nationwide chains like Target and Walgreens, to name a few.

These are just a few of the things I have learned over the couple of years that I have been conscious about the money we are spending and on what (darn you, adulthood!). There is sooo much more out there to learn!

If you use coupons, have you had any struggles? If you don't use them, why not?

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