Tuesday, August 5, 2008

FAQ

How do I get started with coupons?
To get started, you can go Here, Here, and Here to understand how to accumulate coupons, organize coupons, and to learn how to understand the lingo and abbrev. that you will find on my website as well as many other money saving websites.

After you have done all of this I would suggest picking one store to work on so you don't get overwhelmed. If you have a Walgreens close buy I would suggest starting there. Shop like you normally would at your other stores and then focus on how to get the best deals at Walgreens. After you have mastered that store move onto another store. You could also decide to start saving on your nonfood items first and then when you get that down slowly add in the savings on your food items.

To learn more about Walgreens and how it all works you can go through a little tutorial Here.


Do you find yourself buying things that you don't usually buy just because it is on sale?

When I first started doing couponing I did buy alot of things that I wouldn't normally have bought. But, the more you get into couponing the more you know what works for you and what doesn't. I now buy only things we will use UNLESS I can make money off of the products and put the overage towards other items I am buying to get my Out Of Pocket expenses down. Then if I don't need the item I made money off of I having been donating them to other people who may need that item, or you could donate the items to a food bank, or I someday want to have a yard sale and sell all of those products for a small profit.

Couponing is also a great way to try out new products that you normally would never have bought because you couldn't afford them. I have tried new brands of shampoo/conditioner, styling products, cleaners, makeup, air fresheners, body washes and facial cleansers and a lot of different types of food that I thought I wouldn't like but ended up really liking them in the end. Don't go off and buy every great deal you find just because they are cheap, but don't be afraid to try something new when you can get them for free or almost free.


How do you plan your meals off some of the items on sale, even if they seem random?
I am not always good at doing this, but when I put the time into planning ahead I try to have a weekly meal plan setup for our family, this includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I first look through our kitchen and try to find meals that I can make with what we have on hand already, then I look at the weekly ads and find what is on sale that I could get for Free or really cheap with coupons, then I will either make up my own meals to combine them all together or I will go to a recipe website like allrecipes.com and find a recipe that I could make for the weekly meals.

Allrecipes.com has a great feature where you can put in the ingredients that you have on hand at your house and then it will find recipes that include those ingredients. It's a great way to try out new recipes with the items that are on sale for the week.

How do you know what are good coupons to clip?
When I first started clipping coupons I had no idea what were good coupons to clip so I just started clipping them all! I still am clipping most of the coupons now but am a little more selective about it. As you get going you will see what coupons will come in handy and you could get a really good deal on. My philosophy on clipping coupons is if I could get that product for Free or almost free, even if its not a product I normally use, I clip the coupon. Even if a coupon says something like "$.35 off of one" that doesn't sound like a whole lot of money you will be saving but lets say you clip that coupon and it was for "liquid SoftSoap," two weeks later SoftSoap could come on sale from being $2.99 to $.99. You could then use your $.35 off of one coupon and get the soap for $.64 a piece. That is a 79% savings on that soap!

When is the best time to use your coupons?
The biggest problem people have with trying to save money on groceries is they are trying to buy products only when they need them, instead of when they are on sale. If you buy items that you will need now or in the near future when they come on sale and use coupons then buy enough to make it until the next sale, you will be able to save ALOT of money on the products you are trying to buy. All products fluctuate in their pricing over about a 6 week period. If you wait until the product is at its lowest price, then use your coupons, you will then be getting the best deal on the product.

For the most part, manufacturers put out coupons on their products, then within about a two month period almost ALL of those products will come on sale at multiple stores. Wait until an item comes on sale to get it for cheaper and then combine it with manufacturer coupons and store coupons to get the item for its lowest cost.

How do you get multiple copies of coupons?

You can buy multiple newspapers, or you can go HERE to read more ideas for accumulating coupons without buying more newspapers. I suggest you start with the free options first and then if you feel the need for more coupons, go purchase more newspapers.

Aren't Generic products always cheaper than name brand products, even if you use coupons?

Yes, it is true that generic products are a little cheaper than name brand products. However, generic is not usually cheaper than name brand when it is on sale and you have a coupon. The key is to combine the store sales with the coupons to get the best deals.

Do people who use coupons spend more than people who don’t use coupons?
If you are going to the store and buying anything you have a coupon for, especially if the product is not on sale, you will almost always spend more. However, if you use coupons the right way by combining store sales and coupons together to get the best deals, you will almost always cut your grocery bill or increase the amount of items you are able to buy for the same amount of money.

Is it worth it to shop at multiple stores?
Most of the stores I shop at are within a block of each other and only about 5 minutes from my house, so it really doesn’t take a whole lot more time or gas to go from store to store. But, even if your stores are not as close together as mine, it can be worth it to shop at multiple stores if there are enough good deals at that one store. For instance, if you are able to get $50 worth of items you need for only $10 and you only spent a couple of extra dollars in gas to get there than I would say that would definitely be worth it to go to multiple stores!

What is a decent amount of money to be spending on our family every month for groceries?
This is a completely person question for everyone. What works for one family will not work for another. We personally for a family of 4 are living off of about $80 a week which includes all of our nonfood items like diapers, toilet paper, shampoo, cleaners, etc. I am hoping to get this down even more but right now we are trying to work on a 6 month food and emergency supply, so we are buying things like wheat and stockpiling more on items for the future that are harder to get coupons for.

I say, figure out what you are spending on your family for groceries every month and slowly reduce that amount every month. Start by trying to shave off $10 a week or $40 a month and slowly work yourself down to a better amount for your groceries. If you find this to be too hard or too stressful than back off and go back up to where you were comfortable for a while and try again with a smaller amount. Couponing should not be a stressful thing, it should be fun or at least worth it to save money in the end.

2 comments:

The Schulze Fam said...

Thanks Erin this was very helpful! You've helped to get me motivated again!

Brittiny E. said...

Hi! One of my cousins had a link to your site on her blog and I love it! I'm trying to be more saavy with my grocery budget lately. One thing that I wanted to mention to you was: have you ever thought about making your own cleaning supplies? I just started with a couple of recipes for floor cleaner and bathroom cleaner and it's great! It's a whole lot cheaper (although you do have a little up front cost). But it's much healthier for you and your family (no fumes, no chemical residue, and easier on your hands). A lot of recipes are based on vinegar, baking soda, or washing soda. Plus, you can even make your own laundry detergent (haven't tried this one yet, but I've read a lot about it). Anyways, just thought I would let you know in case you are interested. I can send you the couple of recipes I have tried if you would like. Take care!