Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Couponing 101: Starting Your Stockpile

When you're parenting a large family, your grocery bill can quickly get out of hand. And, as food prices continue to go up, the amount of food you bring home seems to be less and less. Couponing is a great way to save; plus, you'll end up coming home with twice as much food and household products for less that you were spending before.

As an example, we were spending $250-300 a week, which barely got us enough food to last the week. A couple of months after couponing and starting my stockpile, I was able to decrease that to $100 or less and walk out with twice as much, saving roughly 75-90% each trip.

Yes, it can be time consuming and a bit of a hassle, but there's an amazing sense of accomplishment knowing just how much money you're saving your family and providing them with the food you need. Not to mention, every family goes through hard times and with a stockpile on hand, paying for groceries is one less worry during those times.

Unfortunately, with shows like Extreme Couponing, stores and coupon manufacturers have caught onto walking out of the store with hundreds of dollars of groceries for next to nothing. The game has changed quite a bit, but you can still get some pretty great deals.

It won't happen overnight, but here's how I started my stockpile:

1. Not everyone had the money to begin saving, because yes, in order to start a stockpile, you kind of need to have money on hand first. So, with my family, we started with $20 a week. That $20 went to purchasing $20 worth of the best deal we could find.

2. The general rule of thumb is to have one newspaper per member of your family. This is so you have enough coupons to get what you need for a few months. Be aware, coupon inserts and sales usually run the same deals every 3-6 months, so you want to try to stock up for 3-6 months.

3. After you have your coupons, check out the ads to stores. Match what is on sale with what you have a coupon for. Here's a great tip-- you can combine a manufactured coupon with a store coupon or Catalina coupon to double the savings. For example, say toilet paper is on sale for $5.99. Then, you have a $1.00 off manufactured coupon and a $1.00 store coupon. You'll get that pack of toilet paper for $3.99. So, by having more than one of those coupons, you'll take that $20 and buy 5 packs of toilet paper, saving you from having to buy it for a couple of months. Also, be sure to check to see which stores double coupons for the most savings.

4. Once you've decided which stores you're going to go to, you need to read the stores' coupon policies, and do so every month because they like to change them. Then, create your list and organize your coupons to help you save time in the store. Plus, by being prepared at the register, you won't be that annoying customer holding up the line.

There's a lot more to couponing and many other ways to save money, but if you're looking to get started, here's the basics for starting your stockpile.

Check back again soon for more great couponing tips!

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