Ignored Money

I was over at a friend's house recently, and saw that she shops at the same grocery store that I go to. I mentioned I shop there, and that I save quite a bit of money using coupons.

She looked at me with a somewhat shocked/uninterested look and said "Oh couponing is a full-time job I don't have time for".

I am not going to preach couponing, or try to convert you if you aren't or are a couponer.
Really, I am a semi-new couponer, and only have really cared about couponing for about 2 years. I grew up watching my mom do it, and to keep me busy in the grocery store, she would hand me a couple of coupons in every isle we got to and she would say "go find this".

 I took it as a challenge to find that certain product quickly, and I knew we'd be saving money. Back then, the cashiers weren't bitter when you handed them a stack of coupons. Somehow, I recently inherited my mom's old accordion file she used to keep in her purse. Talk about memories...

There are so many ways to handle coupons, and save money depending on what stores you shop at.

Does an accordion file work for you?---Great!
Do you like the binder with pocket pages?---That's great too.

What I am trying to say is, couponing can be easy, fun and done your way....whatever works for you!
When I see inserts, this is what I see in my mind:

Its basically like someone printed us money, that arrives every Sunday in our paper.
Ignore what you see on tv shows about couponing, because half of the time it is not real or realistic for the average mom who's just trying to lower the bill or stay within a budget.

Don't feel like you need to have a stack of inserts and a ton of time.

Here are just a few tips I follow when I save my family money every week:

1) I e-mail the companies I let them know what I think! Every couple of weeks, I use nap time to email a few companies. It only takes minutes to write a 2-3 sentence compliment.
 If you can, make it personal, so that it doesn't feel just copy and pasted.

  A wonderful blog that shares daily deals and couponing hints, Centsable Shoppin, has a great company-link database that you can click and be directly sent to a particular comany's customer service page. Like her FB page too!

By sending a few emails every week, its seems I have a steady flow of free money arriving in my mailbox.

Last week's money in the mail included:
Special coupons for Florida's Natural Orange Juice- $1 off
Special coupons for Eucerin products- $10 off
another reader received a $25 gift card when she wrote Sears, and more

2) Dont get overwhelmed! Couponing should be fun, and can be easy. Don't feel like you have to clip EVERY coupon or get EVERY deal.
        ----- On Sundays I buy 2 newspapers. The coupons in 2 papers is perfect for our family of 4.
        ----- For me, I only clip coupons of things I will need.
         -----I don't clip coupons of things I dont need, EVEN IF THEY WILL BE FREE.

For instance, I tend to ignore make-up coupons since I rarely wear make up. My mom hooks me up with Mary Kay if I need it anyway ;)

       ----- Since we don't eat a ton of packaged food, I find the best deals on beauty & household items

For instance, I never pay for hand soap, toothpaste, dish soap

If you clip coupons for things you wont use, you will soon find an overwhelming amount of coupons in your stash, and it also will take a lot of your time and space at home.

3) Find your Organization Method
I have tried the accordion file, and the binder with pages, and I am a binder girl.

I separate the pages with some 99 cent page dividers that I have labeled: pets, health, household, frozen, dairy, baby, cereal & snacks, and drinks

Do this part your way, because trying to mimic other couponers will not work in the end.

and lastly....

4) Learn your stores. You probably already know what stores you like to shop at the most. Stick with those. Don't feel like you have to drive to Safeway for the free ketchup, to CVS for the free lipstick, to Walmart for the $1 off bacon...etc.

Personally, I am blessed to say our store (Frys- an affiliate of Kroger) makes EVERY coupon a dollar. If I show up with 10 cents off of a 99cent product, they make that coupon a dollar, and it becomes free.

Check out the policies at your stores. They may do this too!
Some stores, such as Harris Teeter, even has double/triple days where they will triple coupons.

CVS gives Care Bucks when you buy certain products, which is basically free money on top of coupons.

WalMart price matches. Use this to your advantage, and don't be afraid to show the cashiers that you just got that healthy cereal for 40 cents a box! (note, I said helathy)

Target takes coupons from your Sunday paper AND a target coupon at the same time for one item!

It can happen.
Start small, go grab a paper or two on Sundays.

Sit by the bathtub while your kids play in the evening and clip the coupons you will use.
It doesn't have to be a full-time job. Free money is just sitting there waiting to be clipped.

Do you coupon??

Id love to hear thoughts of those who read this ;)