Here’s what I learned when I started shopping with coupons:At first it took me longer to shop!
I had to hunt a little to find what I wanted especially at the stores I never had grocery shopped at before (CVS and Walgreens). After a while you will know exactly where these items are and that there is usually a yellow tag pointing to the sale item.
Once I located the item, I had to check product sizes and coupon restrictions plus I would calculate if the store brand was cheaper or not or the larger size was cheaper, etc. With couponing you actually want to buy the smallest size the coupon will allow. Here’s an example of why:
12 rolls $5.00 = .42 per roll
24 rolls $9.50 = .40 per roll (cheaper per roll to buy the larger package if you don’t have coupons)
Toilet Paper with -$1.00 coupon any size
12 rolls $5.00 – $1 coupon = $4 or .33 per roll
24 rolls $9.50 – $1 coupon = $8.50 or .35 per roll
Now the smaller package is cheaper because the coupon has more value per item
Browsing can slow you down
I’m not saying don’t browse the isles anymore, but I rarely do. I end up buying impulse items and it takes me longer to shop. You will, however, find extra items on sale that are not in the ad. When I see these, I do stop and see if I have a coupon for them. Sometimes I get lucky. But, doing this does take more time.
I wasn’t saving any money! Was I?
When I first started, I remember thinking, maybe I’m saving a little but only about $10 or so. I couldn’t really tell. But, I thought well I guess I’m getting a few extra items, so I stuck with it. Over the next few weeks I began to get more and more items and was noticing a stock pile starting to form. That’s when I started to cut back on my spending and that’s when I really saw the savings. By now, I knew what prices were the really good deals and began waiting for those instead of buying all the deals each week. Then I cut my spending back even more. Now I budget just $60 a week for food to light bulbs and still have money left over (most of the time.)
The store was out of stock!
When there is a really good deal, many times the store will be wiped out. Learn when each store gets their delivery and shop on those days. Also, you can ask for a rain check at most stores. Just be sure you use it before your coupon expires. Have a back up plan if you are trying to plan multiple scenarios for your trip. If they are out of one item it could mess up your entire plan (this is mostly for Walgreens/CVS when using reward money.)
I hope this helps give some of you encouragement when you start couponing. It’s really fun and challenging and well worth the effort!
Guest post by Jen from Lubbock Coupon Gal.