One of the ways I save on our weekly grocery budget is by using coupons. Yes. Even on healthy, organic food. Each week I round-up all the Natural and Organic Printable Coupons available.
Here are the steps to take to set yourself up for couponing success:
1. Make a price list. The key to using coupons is to buy a product when it’s at its lowest price. It’s simple math. A $1.00 off coupon helps you pay less if the product is priced at $2.00 versus $3.00. Having a price list helps you find the lowest price. Here is a complete page dedicated to making a Price List.
2. Match your coupon to a sale. Many of us clip a coupon on Sunday and use it on Monday. Or, we wait until we run out of a product and then use the coupon. Instead, hang on to that coupon until you see the lowest out-of-pocket cost for that product. (see #1 above!) By spending that coupon when the product is at its lowest price, you can often find a free or under a dollar price!
3. Stack your store coupons with your manufacturers coupons. First, look at the top of your coupon to see if it is a store coupon or a manufacturer coupon. A store coupon can only be used at that store (say a Whole Foods Whole Deal coupon can only be used at Whole Foods). A manufacturer’s coupon can be used at any store that sells that product. Each coupon serves a different purpose. First, a store has two ways to put an item on sale. It can lower the shelf price and everyone enjoys the savings. Or, it can issue a store coupon and only those that clip it will get the savings. A store coupon is simply the store putting an item on sale for savvy coupon clipping shoppers. Manufacturer coupons are different. Manufacturers issue coupons hoping to get you to try a product or to develop brand loyalty. You can use it anywhere you shop. The manufacturer will reimburse the store for the amount of the coupon plus a handling fee, so the manufacturers coupon is just like paying cash. The best part is that many store and manufacturer coupons can be stacked together on the same product to maximize your savings. So – the store coupon puts the item on sale, and the manufacturers coupon is like paying cash to get the item!
4. Stockpile items you know your family needs and uses. What is stockpiling? It is buying enough of a product to last your family at least 6 to 8 weeks when the product is at its lowest price. Cereal for less than $.50/box? Grab 10 to 12 to last you until the next time it goes on sale. I’ve compiled a list of the best products to stockpile your pantry here. It’s a great guideline for what items to always have on hand to make quick and easy meals.
5. Buy the smallest size the coupon will allow. If a coupon does not exclude trial size, many times a coupon will get you that product for free! Plus, trial sizes can be super handy!