I’m kinda having fun with this little series! Plus, it’s pretty low pressure for me because as I’ve mentioned before, this is NOT a coupon blog. I’m just a regular mom with a super tight budget who started out wanting to be a good steward and ended up obsessed with couponing. Not like a weird obsession, though. A good obsession. Not crazy cheap. I mean, I did buy Tillamook at full price the other day (cringe!), but I have had to bite my tongue when two different friends were telling me about their great cereal scores (for over $1 a box! Yikes!).
Okay, so I’m a little weird.
And, although I am a smart little cookie (ahem!), I will be the first to tell you:
YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE A GENIUS TO BE AN EXTREME COUPONER! (Yes, I just yelled that in your face. So sorry. Too much coffee, I think.)
- You really don’t have to be a genius. However, you are one smart cookie, too, so stop short-changing yourself. You’re driving me nuts. If you can read this blog, you can save hundreds of dollars a month off your grocery bill.
- It might take a couple of months until you know what you are doing and are in the groove and stop buying junk. I cut my grocery budget down from $400 a month (family of 4) to $200 a month in about 3 months. These days, it’s probably even less than that because I use the money from my grocery envelope to buy socks and underwear, Dutch Bros coffee runs, a birthday present for a little friend, toiletries, etc. I’m not just buying groceries, but I do sincerely TRY to keep my hands out of that envelope while I pass Dutch Bros . . .
- And, if you are serious about wanting to learn how to become an extreme couponer, stop asking me to teach you. Go straight to the experts. Stop messing around wishing you could “figure it out” and give yourself some credit. I’m not going to wave my little wand over your head and poof you into an extreme couponer. You can learn how to coupon. No one sat me down to explain what to do to get a good deal. I had to read the 10 Days series all by myself. (This is tough love time for some of you! You know who you are!)
Let me tell you my secret to finding out what is on sale at a stock-up price, what I can get for free, and what is a good deal for my family. Okay, fine, it’s not a secret. I’ll tell anyone who asks how I “figure it all out” that I do NOT figure it all out.
I depend on coupon blogs.
What is a coupon blog? Coupon blogs are run by a lady or team of ladies who have a passion for helping others to be good stewards of their resources and save money in the most flexible area of everyone’s budget: the groceries. These ladies work very hard, scouring the grocery ads to find the best sales and come up with scenarios that help the average couponer like me to save the most money. They tell you what Sunday insert to find the coupon in or they link you up to the online printable. They tell you what combination of items you need to buy, and what your total out of pocket (OOP) expense will be so that you can plan wisely. Many tell you when they find a “stock-up price” so that you can be sure to purchase enough of the item to get to the next sale cycle to prevent you from having to run out and pay full price if you run out. Oh, and they will even tell you what the sale cycles are!
Many coupon blogs post store deals for several stores in your area, and most will share information with each other to make sure no one misses anything. It’s a very cooperative group!
- Read the comments under the weekly match-up post for your store. Most of the time, readers will share sales and match-ups that they found while shopping, and everyone is very willing to share information.
- Do you have a question about how something works? Ask in the comments. Some kind reader will jump in and explain what a Catalina is or how doublers work or how to get an ecoupon loaded to your card. Just ask!
- Go to a couple of different blogs. I have about 5 blogs that I read to find the best deals at my local Safeway store. I can’t just depend on one, because sometimes ads and coupons are regional. OR, maybe one of the coupon blogger’s kids is sick and she can’t get to posting the deals that week. There are many reasons why I look at several different blogs to find the best match-ups for a single store! Don’t rely on just one, or you might miss out on a great deal!
- Use affiliate links. The ladies that run these coupon blogs are MOMS. Most of them are stay-at-home moms. And, they don’t really get paid to post the deals. They are sharing information with us out of a passion to help others, and for that I am extremely grateful. When they link up to a printable coupon on sites like coupons.com (and a few others), they will get paid a teeny-tiny fraction of the value of the internet printable when you print it using their link. It isn’t a lot, and they are NOT getting rich off of you, but if they can make $30 a month by having their readers print coupons using their links, then that is $30 more than they were earning, right? Please support them! Other ways to support: Advertise your etsy store on their site (at a very reasonable price), purchase a Groupon, Tippr, Gevalia Coffee, Shop at Home or any number of other affiliate programs by clicking on their link! ALSO, share their blog with friends. The more visits they have, the more money they have the opportunity to make. Again, no one is getting rich, but wouldn’t you like to say thank you to those ladies who work so hard for us?
- Be nice. I have read some nasty comments under posts on coupon blogs that just make me want (1) stick a pin in someone’s eye, or (2) go hug that poor coupon blogger who is being absolutely blasted because her math is 5¢ off or because she posted about a “gray” area of couponing. And, yes. There are gray areas of couponing. They are called Your Mileage May Vary (YMMV) scenarios because they may not work for you, but they do work for some people depending on how strictly a store or cashier interprets a written or unwritten policy. They are not unethical scenarios, however the blogger’s ethics are called into question. Would you take a peelie coupon off of a product that that you will buy but you want to wait for a sale/stock-up price? I would, and I have and I will do it again. I once took a couple of coupons off of a couple of packages of parmesan cheese that I found at a store during the hot summer months. When I got back to Dallas, I went to my store and used the coupons to purchase some parmesan cheese, then I raced home to put them in my refrigerator. Did I use the coupon as intended? Yes, I did. And, in the process I saved my family from gross, melted, moldy cheese (or what would have happened if I had purchased the packages that had the peelies on them in the first place and then stored them in my hot car while running errands for a couple of hours). I mention this because THIS is the kind of thing that coupon bloggers get bugged about. BE NICE. These ladies are human.
Okay, now that I have preached at you a little (Sorry. I’m feeling feisty this morning!), let me share with you the coupon blogs that I subscribe to and regularly read:
Regional blogs –
- Frugal Living NW – Because I live in the Northwest! I love that the gals who post in the comments are shopping at the exact same stores that I shop at (in my little town or in Salem). Angela (the gal who runs the site) actually came to my little town to do a coupon class. It was AWESOME, and I still keep the notes in my coupon binder. If you ever get a chance to attend one of her classes, DO IT.
- The Krazy Coupon Lady – They are also located on the West Coast (Idaho and California, I think), and post many stores that I shop at or might shop at. PLUS, they are THE place to go to learn everything you need to know about couponing.
- Thrify NW Mom – Again, regional match-ups! I believe she is based out of Washington.
- Happy Money Saver – This used to be called Fistful of Coupons, but she just had to change the name. I believe she is based out of Eastern Washington (Tri-Cities??), and she has great match-ups for my stores. I love her Golden Scissors contest!! Very inspiring!
- Abundant Food Savings – I don’t get this site, because there doesn’t appear to be any “community”” aspect to it (comments, etc.), but this gal finds hidden gems in coupon inserts. VERY valuable.
- Coupon Connections NW – I just discovered this site yesterday, but I am totally impressed.
National blogs –
- Hip 2 Save – If you can get past ALL of the contests and lots of freebies, you will find some hidden gems. Her Rite Aid match-ups are awesome, and she does a lot of national chain drug stores. She has some fun videos, lots of great content for learning, and she is usually one of the first to post about high-value limited time coupons.
- Money Saving Mom – LOVE the inspiring posts that are more about living a frugal lifestyle. Crystal feeds her family for $40 a week and was my inspiration (along with Angela of Frugal Living NW) for cutting my grocery budget in half. Crystal and her husband just bought their first house and paid cash for it! Definitely a “must-subscribe.”
That’s really it! I know it seems like a lot to keep up with, but it is really no problem at all because I subscribe to these blogs using Google Reader to quickly skim through the posts and skip over ones that don’t apply to me. I’ll talk about Google Reader soon!
Okay, so what if you don’t live in the Northwest? I know MOST of you do not, but I wanted you to see that there are a LOT of coupon blogs out there. And, I can promise that there are a few in your area of the country that do match-ups for the stores that you shop at.
For starters, check out these resources and see if you can find blogs in your area:
Once you find a blog that match’s your store, check out who the blogger is saying thank you to. Oftentimes, they will link you up to the other blogger. Click on that link and see if the other blogger does a good job of matching up!!
And, that is how I “figure it out”: I don’t reinvent the wheel. I let others do the work for me, and I say thank you by clicking their affiliate links and directing traffic to their blogs.
Next up: Using Google Reader (your new best friend!)