I put a folder in my kitchen to hold current coupons and current ads. I also bought a small coupon holder that fit in my purse that I filled with coupons for frequently purchased items like yogurt, cereal, and lunch meat. Already feel like a circus at the store with multiple children so I wasn't ready to take on the "coupon binder" that serious couponers take into the store.
I downloaded a savings spreadsheet that kept track of how much I spent and how much I saved with coupons, club cards, and rebates. The last time Garth and I had done a budget, was a few years ago. . .only two kids, a better economy, and no coupons. I was spending a little over $600 a month, yikes!
The Results for 2010:
I spent $6,194. (That includes all groceries, household items, cleaning supplies, diapers, wipes, etc. Basically everything but clothing and toys).
I saved $3, 420. Not too shabby. I spent an average of $515 a month.
Now, serious couponers would still say that is too high. I have discovered that WA prices are higher than Utah and Texas (two places that I have followed blogs). I also don't buy coupons on ebay to score huge amounts of good deals. I did it once or twice last year to score 80 boxes of pasta for 23 cents each and 20 boxes of free cereal. However, after reading some articles, I'm not sure I feel good about getting coupons off ebay any more.
What I learned this year:
1. There are many items that I would buy at full price when I ran out or would buy at Costco in bulk thinking it was a good deal (toothpaste, deodorant, contact solution etc.) Now I know that if you pay attention and stock up when the couponing stars align (sale + coupon) you can score these items for free or nearly free (I have a stockpile of toothpaste and deodorant that I paid 50 cents or less for.)
2. I still love Costco. They still have the best prices on a lot of things and sometimes the convenience of the place wins over running around town.
3. To save money, you must consider what is on sale at whatever store you are going to and plan your weekly meals accordingly.
4. Know your price point for items. Know if the sale price is really good by comparing it to Costco or Wal-Mart. If you find something for 50% savings or more, buy a month or year supply.
5. Rain Checks are the best! I used to think if the store was out of something, I was out of luck. Not so. I have even paid for things on a certain day to get the sale + coupon deal then picked them up the next week when they restocked their shelves.
6. I Love Rite Aid! Many of the best deals I have scored were from Rite Aid. I almost never went there before but now I realize that many of the items I would grab here and there when I was at the grocery store really added up. By taking a trip to Rite Aid every couple of weeks, I can get these items for a much better price. Once I even got 6 Covergirl face make-ups completely free (BOGO sale matched with BOGO coupon). They are the most coupon friendly store I have ever been to.
7. It takes time. Lots of people say they don't have time to coupon. I believe that we all have time to do what we think is a priority. There were many months where I made this a priority and there were other months that I went to the store with no coupons at all (to protect my sanity.)
I still have a lot to learn although I don't know if I am willing to spend much more time couponing than I currently do. It is hard to explain the rush of purchasing 15 items for $5 then getting $11 rebates and $9 off your next purchase coupons (that actually happened last week at Rite Aid!) That excitement is what keeps me clipping!