I thought this might be helpful to some of you who are beginning to coupon just like I am. And for those who are more experienced I would LOVE to hear your secrets!
I have been using primarily two websites to help with my preparations, www.thekrazycouponlady.com and www.coupondivas.com. They have been invaluable to me! They do match ups for me so I can see what I need quickly and then can go off of that.
I use all of my stores' online ads and regular ads posted on line so I don't have to run to the store every 2 seconds (costly in time and gas when you live 30 min from most of the stores). So I check out Hy-Vee, Wal-Mart, Walgreen's, Fareway, and Sunshine Foods.
Coupondivas.com is currently my favorite website. They make is SO convenient to look at the match-ups. I can also print a list right from their site. I do have to, however, write at the top of my list where the list is for, since that isn't printed.
Here is how I start my couponing process. I make a list of meals that I want to make over the course of a week (or in this weeks case 2 weeks). I then figure out what I need to add to what I have on hand to prepare each of said meals. It is then that I go to my couponing sites and find out what is on sale. I find out what I can get for cheaper whether it is cheese, tortillas, soups, or even produce!
I then take a look at what else is on sale and I have a coupon for. It could be things like toothpaste, toothbrushes, dish detergent, hand soap, feminine hygiene products, snack foods, paper products, toilet paper, school supplies and kids games. If the price is right (which usually means little to no out of pocket for me) I will go pick it up. Here is my catch though, if my family won't use it (like Yakisoba noodles) I won't buy it. I will pass those coupons on to someone else who might use them. I just can't justify the time and energy as well as the space it would take up to purchase things that my family won't use. I will buy multiples of the same item (check out my last couponing post). My thought behind that is, if I can't use it by the expiration date I will donate it to someone who will. I right now have 7 tubes of kids toothpaste that I know I won't use by the expiration date next year sometime (I only have 1 kiddo who uses that kid right now, the others are still swallowing their toothpaste...lol) so I will find a friend who wants/needs some or give them to a women's and children's shelter or our local food shelf.
So whatever I buy my family will use at some point or another. I want to be purchasing things that won't be going bad (like paper towels, toilet paper, feminine hygiene products, toothbrushes, deoderant, etc) because if I can get them next to nothing I won't have to spend $3 a bottle for shampoo when we run out because I will have gotten it for cheap and it will be waiting for us in the basement. Make sense?
Here are some things that I try and keep in mind when I am coupon shopping. :)
-Make sure to print and keep the coupon policy for each store you shop at with you when you coupon. That way if you or the cashier have a question you have the answer in front of you.
-Check the coupon policies often! They will often change with little to no warning.
-Make sure you know what dates the sales are good through. If you go too early or too late all of your prep work will go down the drain.
-Take your time! This goes for reading your coupons to reading your in store ads to shopping. Even the smallest word can change how a coupon will apply.
-Make a list. List what you need, how much is costs, what coupons you have for the item, how many of the item you need and what the final cost should be. This will keep you on budget!
Ok, well I think that is a good enough start for now. :) Let me know if you have any questions or tips for me! I am always ready to learn! :D