Frugal Shopping and Coupons

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Please don’t discount the value of coupons.  Some of you are probably saying,  “I don’t have time to mess around with coupons.”  I won’t lie to you “messing” with them, can be a little time consuming.  However, if you have a good system in place, you will save money – occasionally an item will be free.  No, I’m not kidding.  Here’s how I do it.  For more info, please see the link to Jill Cataldo’s site.

Every Sunday I go through the sales circulars that come with the Sunday paper.  I find within that stack of circulars, the coupon circulars for the week.  I go through the coupon circulars, clipping only those coupons that I think I will use in the future – the upcoming week and beyond.  I then organize those coupons by utilizing a coupon organizer I bought at the dollar store.  (It’s a check book sized accordion file organizer labeled with grocery store relevant categories  i.e. frozen food, beverages, drug items, misc.)

Then I go to a site like www.marianos.com  (I often grocery shop at Mariano’s, but this system will work at other stores.)  Note:  I do make a grocery list throughout the week by writing needed items down on a piece of paper in the kitchen.  Those are only NEEDED items though – like toilet paper, flour etc.  I determine the recipes that I will make for the week by finding out what’s on sale at the grocery store. So, when I’m at the grocery store’s site, I generate a list based on what I see on sale.  I then go through my coupon organizer to match coupons with what’s on sale.  (I will bring my coupon organizer with me to the store as well.)  If you shop at a store like Mariano’s that allows you to use a store coupon and a manufacturer’s coupon for the same item (called stacking) that can be of significant benefit to you.  (Most grocery stores allow this.) For example, if Smart Balance milk is on sale for $2.99 and I have a manufacturer’s coupon for $1.00 off, that brings the cost of the milk down to $1.99.  If I also have a store coupon for Smart Balance milk, say for $1.00 off, then the bottom line cost of the milk is $.99.  I have paid $0.00 for an item by utilizing this method.  You can also use ecoupons.   A lot of stores are experimenting with  ecoupons that can be found on their site or that are linked to their site.  These are usually manufacturer’s coupons that you don’t have to clip.  There are also ecouponing sites like “cellfire” that you can go to directly.  Check-out www.freemania.net for more tips.

Often when paying for groceries at the store you will receive coupons along with your receipt.  These Catalina coupons can also be very valuable.  For example, I just used one this past week for $4.00 off of frozen food when $15.00 or more worth of frozen food is purchased.  It was a good time to stock up on frozen food items!  More hints:  often the store coupons will necessitate your buying more than one of an item.  If it’s an item that’s on sale, and you have a manufacturer’s coupon for it, and you know you’ll use it, go for it.  Also, watch out for this type of sales promotion while at the store, “Buy 2 for $5.00″, you can often just buy one for $2.50…check your store’s coupon and sales policies.

Oh yeah, that paper list that has NEEDED items like toilet paper written on it – don’t forget to include those items on your computer generated list – there are valuable coupons for those non-food items too.

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