Thrifty Living: Couponing 101

The average American family of 4 (two adults and 2 children) spends roughly $200 a week on groceries which is a lot of money that’s spent on food. I grew up in a large family of 7 so couponing was a must in my family. In 2019, my husband and I decided that we needed to save more money so I’m following in my mom’s footsteps and becoming an expert couponer. There’s a lot to learn so here are 4 tips to help you get started on your own couponing adventure.

  1. Set aside time. Commit a time-slot to coupon and cut the distractions. Like many things in life, couponing doesn’t take that long when it has your full concentration. My mom would take her weekly ads, Sunday coupons, laptop, and binder and sit at the dining room table sorting through her coupons. My mom allows 1-2 hours per week and saves about $25-$50 weekly, which, as she thriftily puts it, “Think of it as making $25-50 an hour! Sounds worth it right?”.
  2. Find coupons. Determine where your coupons can be found. My mom would get her coupons from the grocery store, newspaper, store flyers, she even used some coupon websites and a lot of her coupons these days came from her store apps. She spends a significant amount of time just scrolling through the Target, Walgreens, Schnucks, and Dierbergs app and digitally applying coupons to her account to save money on her next trip to the store. If you think about it, we already spend a lot of time on our phone scrolling through Facebook daily, I’m sure we can find time to scroll through these other apps to save some money.
  3. Get organized. If you’re organized, it doesn’t really take much time. My mom said this was one of the most efficient time savers to her couponing grocery trips. She would have her binder organized by perishable and nonperishable items and put all similar coupons together so that while she was shopping or planning her list she knew exactly where to look for the coupon.
  4. Beat the system: understand overage. This was my mom favorite thing about couponing. “Overage” happens when the worth of your coupon exceeds the cost of the product. That means you are either owed money in cash from the grocery store or you get credit towards your current bill. Sweet! But how does it work? When you combine several coupons, you maximize your savings. This can be anything from a combination of all these coupons being used: manufacturer coupon, store coupons, using coupons on a clearance item, applying your points through your app or even price matching an item. My mom always told me, don’t be afraid to use as many coupons as you feel apply. The worst they can do is tell you no.

Just remember, don’t buy something just because you have a coupon for it, buy it because you need it, it pays to check all your options and stay organized. While extreme couponing is in some ways, well, extreme, even the smallest of efforts goes a long way when it comes to saving money throughout the month. Take it slow and enjoy the adventure!

Happy Couponing,
Chelsea Springli

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