This page of the Cafe Connections blog is designed to share my journey as I learn to be an extreme coupon mom and to learn from you all along the way.
I started couponing seriously in November 2010. I was encouraged by one of my friends Ysenia Elliott. She got me back on the horse to realize that I'd unsaddled the coupon horse way too soon 4 years ago. I'd dabbled in couponing a few years ago but when my charming husband no longer wanted the Sunday paper delivered I stopped getting coupons. In November 2011 Ysenia schooled me on the basics as we drove by to TN from the ATL Zoo. The following week I got my binder, some album picture holders and news papers and I began.
The first couple of weeks I saved about $17.00 which wasn't bad but I had heard there was way more out there than that. As time progressed I started learning some tricks of the trade and which stores to go to in order to get the best savings. I initially was a WAL~Mart Superstore shopper exclusively except for the occasional run to Kroger for weekly basics that ran out before my next shopping trip. My rational was that WAL~Mart's "Always low prices" were the best value. While there are some good values there, I've learned more about how to maximize savings at other national chains. WAL~Mart is not the last store I hit in order to buy my fish and chicken and any remaining items on the list. This is mainly because I've not yet mastered how to get a big savings at Wal~Mart but I'm not giving up on that just yet.
So here's what I've learned so far:
Publix Grocery Store may have higher prices but they offer great values like their 2 for 1 deals. They also take competitor and manufacturer coupons! As long as you have the item listed on a coupon they will take more than one coupon for the same item. They will also double coupons that are up to $.50. This means you can get a $1.00 off of a particular item when you use a $.50 coupon.
Kroger Grocery Store is amazing! It's like hitting the jackpot if you know what you're doing. Right now I saving half on my grocery bill at Kroger. I plan to get up to the 100% mark when I become the Coupon Diva! Kroger also doubles coupons up to $.50. They do not however take manufacturer coupons. They will take more than one of the same coupon but they may only allow you to use so many before the computer scanner stops you. They also have on-line coupons.
Target - Great values but I've yet to take them up on them, except that I used Some Target coupons at Publix and really benefited from it.
Walgreens - JACKPOT!!!!! If you know how to use their coupons mixed with manufacturer coupons you can really save here. I've actually gotten a lot of free things here, including allergy medicine and more. So far I've learned they will also allow you to use more than one coupon for the same item as long as you have the right number of items that the coupon says you must have. They have a customer loyalty program too but I haven't figured out if it is with a card or not.
CVS and RIGHT AID - Great places to get in store rewards for future stuff! They also honor manufacturer coupons. They also give away free items. I received a free 20 oz drink and a large anti-bacterial lotion a few weeks ago from CVS. It pays to have the CVS Customer Wellness card. I'm still trying to figure out Right AID's system but I got some dish detergent free with a coupon. Watch Videos of CVS on-line win coupons!
How I shop to save: It Can take up to 2 days to get ready and a total of about 10 hours to get organized when I have a big coupon week. This is not for the faint at heart but it is for those who want to save big! I believing I will be able to cut my grocery bill down to $30.00 or less per week while buying atleast $200.00 worth of groceries!
I'm not an extreme couponer yet so I don't have a large pantry stored up. I do have a basic 3 shelf pantry filled with extra items that I can pull from when I need them. Can you say Cereal anyone. My husband hates when I bring in new boxes but I'm storing them for the next couple of months since we eat so much of it!
My meal planning:
I look through my previous months meal plans for the week and decide what we will have for each meal during the upcoming week. I then decide what I already have and what I need to make a complete meal.
I buy 4 papers each Sunday. Walgreens, CVS, and Publix Have them for $1.00 each in my area. Publix sometimes has left over papers on Monday! Kroger and Walmart Sell them for $1.75 on Sunday. Kroger will sell them for $.75 on Monday. The only catch is you take a chance on if there will be any available on Monday! A few weeks ago every store in my area was sold out of papers by the time I got there that evening because there were 4 sets of coupons in each paper. That's huge. I finally found 2 papers on my last store run to Walgreens.
I clip everything! If I don't need it I put it in a stack and I have started giving them away. I'm working on starting a coupon exchange with a few ladies from my church. When I clip what I need I put them in stacks and categories (i.e. Fruits, Veggies, Snacks, Dairy, Meat, Cleaners, Paper goods, Frozen, personal etc). After I clip them I put them in my binder under the right sections.
I look through all the store ads to see what's on sell for the week. I circle those things that I need to complete my meals or items that are really good deals. Then I look to see if I have coupons for the items I've circled. I take out the coupons and place them in the front under my "Todays" Coupon pocket.
On-Line Coupons and sites: There are tons! I Like Coupons.com, Plum, Southern Savers, Iheartpublix, thecheapestmom, Shop for free.com and others.
I section my list into categories from Meats, Veggies, Fruits, etc. Then I decide what I need and what's on sell. I put a star next to the ones that have coupons and I put the amount of each coupon. I also list which store the coupon is best suited for.
I plan my route on the stores I'll shop at by looking at where I'll get the greatest savings first down to the least. I usually shop at 4-5 stores including Publix, Kroger, Walgreens, Dollar General, CVS, Right Aid and Walmart. It usually takes me about 2 1/2 - 3 hours to complete my rounds. Sometimes I have to do it in multiple days if there interruptions with my business schedule or my children's school schedules.
This weeks Cash Savings:
Kroger - I purchased food and cleaning supplies that valued at $133.00 but I saved $46.50 my total at Kroger was $86.00. I had some trouble redeeming some coupons so I paid $30.00 more than I wanted to today. I was experimenting on which coupons are I can present multiples on. I learned the hard way bu using expensive retailed price items. Not good! Note to self....next time choose the $1 or $2 items. So I still don't completely understand the process at Kroger so I'll hold my findings until I learn from one of my coupon diva friends.
Publix - Publix was the greatest success today for two reasons. First, every coupon I presented they took. Even a couple of Target coupons. They even let me use more than one coupon on an item. As long as I had the right number of items that the coupon called for I could use several of the same coupons for that one items. I reallllllly like that!!!!!
The second reason Publix rocked for me was because when I went back hours later to the customer service desk to inquire about a discount I forgot to cash in on. The coupon said if you spend $30.00 they will give you $5.00 off. Lindsay at the Customer service desk honored the request! She not only gave me the $5.00 she add the tax. I walked out of there with $5.41 in cash. AWESOME!!!! Lindsay is always pleasant when I shop at Publix! It's like the commercial says, It's more than just shopping it's an experience to be shop at Publix!
Although I love my friends and even the management at my local Wal~Mart, I have to say that Publix beats them in customer service hands down! They are always right there to make sure you can find what you need. They inquire before you get a chance to ask. Even the dairy manager took my request to add Chocolate Almond Milk to the line up!!!! Earlier this week I purchased an item and then noticed they had more Sunday papers left. I bought 3 and they let me go back and get the discount for the coupons I had in the papers for that item and I left with 3 extra dollars back. Publix Rocks!!!!! I love shopping there multiple times a week just for the experience.
I spent $105.69 but saved $55.36 with coupons. When you add the $5.41 they gave me back I saved $60.77.
Wal-Mart - As usual, for now, Wal~Mart was not the win fall I'd hoped. I spent $35.00 but saved $5.89 in coupons. My total bill there was $29.27. I'm determined to master Wal~Mart
Actions Steps from here: Call my friends who coupon for more advice, find more coupon sites, and Join a Coupon Class