Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Saving Money With Coupons

I started coupon clipping about 8 months ago after my daughter Ailish was born. In the beginning I was only saving a few dollars here and there and couldn't figure out how people were saving any money using coupons. I would bring my neatly organized little folder with me shopping every Saturday morning and fumble through it trying to find coupons to match what I was buying. I wasn't doing very well. I discovered the answer this summer when I was trying to find discount tickets to a local water park. I found the blog site Centsible In Seattle, which not only told me how to find the water park discount I was looking for, it had posts on how to save money at various grocery stores that we have here in the Puget Sound Region. This led me to other blogs (check out my sidebar) that also had tons of ideas to help me save A Lot of money using coupons and other strategies. One thing I have learned, is that it is definately harder to save money in the Pacific Northwest. Prices tend to be higher, less stores offer double coupons, and there are fewer deals. BUT, there are still tons of great ways to save money. I would love to share what I have learned in the past couple months.

1. Use internet coupons! Most stores accept them and there are a few great sites like Smart Source, Coupons.com,  bettycrocker.com and redplum.com. I print the high value coupons, and wait to print others until I know I need them so that I don't waste ink and paper.  Just keep in mind there are limit on the amount they give out so you might miss out if you wait to print them later.  They usually allow you to print two of each coupon.

2. Use coupons in combination with store sales. For example, Fred Meyer recently had Campbell's Tomato soup on sale for $0.50 a can. Use the Manufacturer .40 cents off 4 cans and buy 4 to make them $0.40 a can.

3. Buy sale items in bulk. You save a lot of money down the road, as sales go in cycles. (Lately canned food, soup, and baking products have been on sale.) Put them in your pantry so you have them when they are no longer on sale.

4. Get multiple Sunday papers. Clip the coupons and file them away so that when an item goes on sale you can stock up on it when prices are rock bottom.  Most papers includ a Smart Saver and a Red Plum insert.  Procor & Gamble also comes out with an insert from time to time.  The Sunday Seattle Times no longer included a Red Plum Insert so I now get the Everett Herald.  I know the Tacoma Tribune also includes the Red Plum Insert.

5. Know you stores policy. The website Krazy Coupon Lady has policies for most of the stores in the Pacific Northwest. She also has an incredible coupon data base.

6. You can save tons of money at drug stores. Walgreens offers register rewards each week on certain items and Rite Aid has a great Single Rebate Check program. I have gotten a lot of free or really cheap items this way (shampoo, diapers, batteries etc.) Some of my favorite sites for finding out about weekly match-ups at these stores are Money Saving Mom and Frugal Living Northwest.

7. Finding the best deals does take time, and time is money. I became overwhelmed in the begining because there are so many deals out there and was spending a lot of time trying to take advantage of them. Now I find the ones that work best for me and leave the rest behind.

8. Take advantage of rebates. They usually don't take too long to fill out and the pay off is often worth it. I like the SC Johnson Rebate that is going on right now, (follow the link and click on "click here for a special offer")  I got multiple products for a few bucks and am getting $15 back for them.

This is just a little of what I have learned in a short period of time. I am sure I have a lot more to learn and am excited to share it here when I do!

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