Sunday, June 27, 2010

Learning to Coupon

I'm reaching that overwhelmed stage of my couponing journey. Each week I learn a little bit more, and each Sunday, I cut more and more coupons. Thus, I lay in bed at night with eyes wide open wondering how in the world I'm actually going to make all of these deals work, and if I'll actually be able to use them in REAL LIFE. Remember, I still feel like a teenager asking out his first date when I go to use these coupons. It doesn't help when the cashier gives you a "look" and then after the final sale price is listed says, "Well everything had a coupon didn't it." I'm sure she was just making an observation. But to that teenager, when the girl says, "Well you must like the color blue," he immediately starts over analyzing what she meant by that. Does blue make me look too preppy? Does it remind her of the ex-boyfriend? Is it her favorite color too and she's already starting to make plans for our future wedding??

Learning how to save money takes time, patience and humility. I have the first . . . God's working on me on the other 2. I'm still really enjoying this new fangled idea (to me at least) of couponing. I mean, what's not to love about saving money? But there are a few tricks of the trade I haven't yet mastered. I currently have piles of cut coupons on my coffee table and I'm pretty sure I have some cereal ones mixed with cleaning product coupons because I can't remember which coupons go in which category. I've renamed the tabs in my coupon organizer 3 times. They used to look really cute with a cool color scheme, but now I've had to flip almost all of them over to white so I could write a new category. So much for a snazzy looking organizer that only I see.

Basically, I need to remember to take a deep breath, and realize that I can't be THAT Mom who only spends $35 a week on all groceries . . . yet.

Well, I better get back to organizing my coupons for the week. I have to say though, last week I ended up spending more than $50, so this week, I'm not going to the store to buy any groceries, except for a few basics, like milk and butter. I'm going to attempt to use ONLY what I have on hand. It should be doable because last week I had leftovers of certain ingredients. I still have ham and chicken. I'll try and let you know what I end up making.

I also wanted to say that if anyone reading this is wanting to get started couponing, but you don't know how, start now! I'm learning too so we can learn together. I plan on blogging quite a bit about this whole process. If you are really interested, here are some basic first steps:

1. Go to Wal-Mart and buy a $1 coupon organizer. It makes you feel more organized, and more official. Like you just joined a crazy Mom club . . . which you have.
2. Buy a Sunday paper (or ask someone who doesn't use the inserts if you can have them).
3. Look through the coupons and cut ANY coupon you think you MIGHT want in the future. This has been my mistake the past few weeks. I keep seeing deals that say "Use the 3/11/10 coupon for Suddenly Salad" so clip it now, even if you don't need it this week.
4. Look through your cupboards and make mental (or real if you're uber organized) notes of what is there.
5. Make a menu of at least 3 meals you could make with ingredients you JUST have on hand.
6. Then check out your coupons and gather 2-3 more meals based on things you can buy on sale.
7. When you arrive at the store, grab the weekly special paper and see what stuff is on sale. Try and use coupons only on things that are already on sale.

This is the BASICS and how I've been starting out. I'm getting better and saving more each week. If you need help coming up with a menu, leave a comment with your list of food items/or coupons and I'll help you out! Seriously! You can email them to me if you need it. OK. Let's keep learning about this together.

8 comments:

Meredith said...

Julie, I love this blog. And I love saving money. So I'm gonna learn along with you! I recently discovered another wonderful way to save some cash...making my own cleaners! Check out tipnut.com and search anything you want to make. So far I've only made the homemade windex...but I'm so impressed that I'm gonna give some of the other recipes a try. I'll let you know how it goes!

Meredith said...

One more thing...is you time stamp correct? What in the world were you doing up at that hour?!

J and J Masson said...

haha! no it's not. :) I think it's still from when I was in spain . . . not sure!

J. et K. said...

Epicurious.com has a great search function where you can enter in the ingredients you have and it'll spit out some great recipes.

Jennifer said...

I think that the trick in not getting overwhelmed is finding an organizational system that works for you. Some people can do it with just one of the little dividers and some use a whole suitcase of baseball card holders! I like something that can fit in my purse. You can check it out http://stonesfromthepath.blogspot.com/2009/11/how-i-organize-my-coupons-or-let-me.html.

It also made me feel better when I started to realize it's ok to miss a deal. It's going to be on sale again, so it's alright if I miss the great deal.

Keep at it! It does pay off!

Valerie said...

Julie, you're doing so well! I haven't been able to do much couponing lately with all the craziness at our house but I'm getting back to it soon. I went to Target today and didn't use a single coupon and it almost killed me. I did get to go to CVS though, and bought a box of 76 Huggies diapers for $5. Booyah. Anyway, I wanted to share this lady's organization system with you because I involves a lot less clipping:
http://www.savingwithshellie.com/couponing-101/organization-tips/

I got completely overwhelmed in the beginning and almost just gave up and vowed to be poor forever (because I'm melodramatic like that). Now, I kind of do a blend of Shellie's system and the organizer divided into categories. I look through the store ads online and only clip the coupons I think I'll use that week and then organize the rest like Shellie. Couponing101.com also has a coupon database so you can just type in a product and it will tell you if there's a coupon for it and where. Also, I buy my papers at Dollar Tree. Normally the Sunday paper is $2 but I get them for $1 there. If you have a store like that, it might be worth checking out.

I hope all your couponing is saving you money for the Beasley/Masson/Michels Texas reunion!

Meredith said...

Hi! Wanted to let you know that I have now also tried a homemade dishwasher detergent and a homemade laundry detergent and I love them both! Let me know if you want to give them a try and I can send you the recipes! :)

Rachel Jones said...

Hey Julie. I started the coupon thing about 4 months ago so I know what you are going through. One thing that works really well for me is to not clip anything until I actually need it. I just write the date on the outside of the inserts from the paper and leave them in tact. I usually refer to the sales lists from couponmom.com and then, when it tells me to use the Tide coupon from the March 7th Redplum....i know exactly where to get it. I grocery shop once a week now and I almost always save more than I spend. I LOVE it! Keep up the good work!