Thursday, May 21, 2009

How This Whole Couponing Thing Started

I often get questions about my couponing, and I realize that I have never done a step-by-step explanation on my blog. Couponing has changed our budget so much, that I am rather passionate about sharing "the skill" with other people. Especially those families who are struggling to make ends meet each month. I truly believe that the Lord showed me how to coupon, and it has enabled us to save so much money each month all while having more food in our house than we have ever had.

So anyway, here we go.

Probably a year ago, maybe even less time than that because last summer I wasn't couponing yet, I was reading a blog (I can't remember which one, maybe this one?) I noticed that this mom was spending 40 dollars week on groceries to feed her family of six (I think I have that number right. I know that her family was much larger than my little family of three), and I thought to myself, "this is crazy. I am spending over 100.00 each week, and I still feel like we have nothing to eat." I was determined to learn how this mom was doing it!! I kept telling Scott about it because I was so amazed by it. 40.00 a week seemed impossible. I knew that she was couponing, but I didn't really understand the process of couponing. I was all about clipping coupons, but I didn't understand how a .50 coupon here and 1.00 coupon there was really going to transform our budget.

The more involved in the blog world I became, the more I realized that many families had cut their budgets in half using coupons, and I was intrigued. I began to research and read and look into every resource I could find, so that I could understand how to make couponing work for our family.

This same blog provided a CVS primer, so that seemed an easy place to start. So before I even began to think about conquering the grocery store world, I began by making one measly little purchase at CVS. I signed up for a CVS card, I looked through a CVS weekly circular, and I picked one item that was free after ECBs, and I walked into the store and bought it. It was a fairly cool feeling to get back the same amount of money (in CVS extra bucks, which can only be used at CVS) that I spent. And I was hooked. So, if you have never couponed at all, I highly suggest starting at CVS. This will build up your toiletries stockpile, and that alone will save money at the grocery store.

This month at CVS there are no free items, but you can get ECBs for toothpaste or soap. Who doesn't need toothpaste or soap? Remember, you are building a stockpile, so don't ask yourself if you need these things right now, ask yourself if you will need these things ever. And to really take advantage of the ECB deals, you want to use a coupon to lower your out of pocket expense. Let me explain. Right now at CVS, Colgate is on sale for 3.99, and you will receive 2.00 in ECBs when you purchase the toothpaste. Let's say that you had a 1.00 coupon. You would then pay 2.99 up front, and you would receive 2.00 in ECBs, which works like a coupon for your next purchase. It's like you are paying .99 for a tube of toothpaste. You see? Don't be discouraged if you don't have a coupon (you can print one above), though. I had no coupons when I started at CVS, and it still was a great way for me to get started. If you are completely new to couponing, and you are interested in getting started, I suggest looking through the CVS circular and picking a few ECB items to purchase this week. In the mean time, go ahead and start buying the Sunday paper. Many places sell them in a bundle, so that you get two newspapers for the price of one paper plus .50.

p.s. If you are ready to jump in and are wanting more details, Tutti has done a couponing series over at her blog that I think is super helpful. Check it out. (I will talk later about how it helps to have couponing friends. Comparing notes with someone really helps me to get the best deal.)

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