The secret is to stock up on things when they’re on sale and then you have them when you need them.
There are two sites to check out (at least for Utah.)
The first is TheGroceryGame.com
I got Teri’s book from the library and read it before I started, and that’s where I learned the most about couponing. This site is available everywhere, but costs $10 for 8 weeks of service for one store. (The stores available in Utah are Smith’s, Albertson’s, and Walgreens) What this site does for you is lists all good sale items and matches them with coupons. It tells you how much the original price is, what the sale price is, what the final price is (if there’s a coupon added) and the percentage off.
She recommends stocking up for 12 weeks worth of items. The theory being that every type of item goes on sale once during a 12 week rotation. Now, I don’t know if Utah’s weird, but I’ve noticed this isn’t always the case. It took 6 months for toilet paper to make the list for instance, and in the mean time it can be a little frustrating.
Because of this I switched to GrocerySmarts.com. – This site is only available for Utah, Arizona, Washington, California and Idaho. But I’m thankful I have it. The bad part is, is that you have to have a “passport” in order to access it. I found mine by a google search and “g84rcm” works for Utah. However, it is free!
What I like about Grocery Smarts is it has lists for almost every store in Utah. They’re working on getting Winco going and the only one I’ve noticed missing is Sunflower Market. The other advantage is that it has almost every sale item listed and uses a star rating so you know if it’s a good sale or a not-so-good sale. (The more stars the better.) The reason this is nice is so, if I’m running out of toilet paper and I need some, at least I can get it on a 3-star sale, instead of buying it full price (a bad sale’s better than no sale right?) Another benefit is that they list all the internet coupons as well, while Grocery Game doesn’t. (If you don’t know where to find internet coupons once you access this website, they’ll list them all, but coupons.com is the major one.)
Both sites allow you to shrink the lists down to only the items you need/want.
Now, for actual couponing. I’ve done two different strategies. The first is I bought 2 papers and cut them out weekly and filed them into different categories. I was also a part of a coupon train. I’d send out coupons I wasn’t using and receive a bunch of coupons in the mail from others. This is nice because it’s relatively easy to locate all your coupons, but time consuming.
I’m now trying the second approach. I buy 4 papers (one for each family member in the house) and I keep the full coupon books filed together. Then the website says “SS 1/31” So, I find the SmartSource coupon book that came on 1/31 (I labeled it when I got it) and cut the coupon. This saves time, but if you end up cutting out a coupon and not using it, then it can get “lost.” So, I’m still working out my bugs on this one.
Yesterday I spent about $105 and saved over $130. It was a good night. Sometimes I only save about 30% and I feel frustrated but Aaron reminds me that saving 30% is still better than nothing! He’s right, of course. 🙂
My friend at FrugalMegan.com is much more of a pro at this than I am!