Jun 11, 2012

GUEST POST: Couponing for Dummies

I have long admired the dedication and loyalty of those who "coupon"... mostly, because after losing my job during pregnancy number one, finding ways to save money became a bit of an addiction (although I found other ways to spend saved money, of course, I'm only a woman) and I've kept this "saving" mentality since then. However, I've never mastered the art of couponing. If I happen to find a coupon of a product I am buying, and remember to bring it, and remember to pull it out of my purse, then I will... but I am one of those people who gets to the line-up, every time, and realizes her 4500 reuseable shopping bags are either (1) by the front door (at home) or (2) in the trunk... However, after reading this great guest post, by my friend and fantastic couponer, Laura, I realized I have part of the steps already completed - meal planning. Meal planning is life in my house. It saves HUGE money and HUGE time, as Laura says, as there's never a point where we're saying "what's for dinner" and realizing that, although we just spent $150 on groceries, we didn't actually buy anything that, together, makes a meal.... What I've never done though, is use the flyers (and what's on sale) to plan my meals. THIS is a HUGELY big deal, fantastic idea that, I realize fully, is not rocket science but just blew MY mind. :p

Here's my intention... I'm going to take Laura's tips and try to apply them to my grocery shopping next weekend and then I'll post about my experience and savings (hopefully) next Monday. I intended to do it this weekend but with Jane's birthday party (pictures to come tomorrow) and a visit from my mom-in-law from NYC, I didn't actually get to the grocery store...

Here it is! Hope you find Laura's tips helpful and can, at least, incorporate some strategies into your weekly shopping as a penny saved is a penny to spend on something for YOU (and to hide from your husband)! :p

When I had a baby and went on maternity leave the budget was tight so I decided to look at ways on how I could save money. It first started with using coupons on diapers and formula but after some internet research I found out about price matching and decided to give it a try. If you’re looking for an easy way to save money, meal planning, using coupons and price matching is the answer!

The first thing you’ll need is flyers.

Flyers are great for two reasons. 1. You can plan your meals based on what is on sale. 2. You can use these flyers to price match. Each week I sit down to make my grocery list with my flyers and when I see something that interests me I write down the item, what flyer it is from and the price listed.  By doing this I can compare the price in the flyer with the price in the grocery store (to make sure I am getting a good deal) without having to shuffle through my flyers. This also helps to be more organized at the cash register so you can remember what item you will be price matching and what flyer it is from.

Meal Planning – This is an easy way to save money! Once a week I sit down and decide what our family is going to eat for the week.  By doing this, I am only buying what our family needs and not buying unnecessary food that can get wasted, especially when it comes to produce. Not only does it saving me money but it’s saving us time knowing what we will be eating each night when we get home from work.
Now onto the fun part!

Price Matching – In my opinion, Wal Mart and  Real Canadian Superstore are the best places to price match. (Not all stores will do this so you will have to ask around). What this means is you take the flyer of a competitor company (Loblaws, Sobeys, Shoppers Drug Mart, No Frills, etc) to your grocery store and pay the lower price in their flyer. I do all of my shopping at Superstore and bring all of my flyers with me on my shopping trips and price match so that I don’t have to go to multiple locations to get the deals. Who has time for that? Wondering what you can price match?? Pretty much anything and everything! Food (including fruits, veggies and meat), toiletries, household products, and baby products to name a few.

Coupons - Not only can you price match to save money but you can use coupons too. There are a few websites that will mail you coupons for free, all you need to do is sign up and occasionally check to see if they have added new ones that they can mail to you. These websites include; www.websaver.com, www.save.ca, www.brandsaver.com, www.gocoupons.com. There are also printable coupons which can be found at www.smartsource.ca. Other places you can find coupons are tear pads found in the stores, magazines, inserts in newspapers and Facebook. When you “like” a company you often have  access to promotional coupons. For example, I recently liked Nordica Cottage Cheese and was able to get a coupon for a free container. Typically they are connected to websites such as websaver and save.ca so you must have an account with these websites. The best is when you can use a coupon for an item that you are price matching on a really good sale, quite often I’m able to get something for free!

At first it may seem overwhelming but once you get a system down it is quite easy and takes little time.  I have a notebook for my meal planning and grocery list/price match list, as well as a file folder for all of my coupons. My friend on the other hand has a binder for her coupons with a pad of paper in the binder. Figuring out a system that works for you will reduce the time it takes to get everything together.

I’m sure you’re wondering how much you can save?? On an average grocery bill I will spend $100 but save $30 to $40. Some weeks are better then others and it depends on the sales and what you need to buy but setting aside some time to meal plan, make a grocery list and make a price matching list is well worth the money you will be saving! Knowing that I saved even a little bit of money is a great feeling!

I know only of Laura's couponing because I follow her on facebook and regularly "like" her "Saved $60 on groceries this week" comments... and those are the types of numbers we're talking some weeks! THAT was enough to peak my interest and get her on board to write this post for you! 

Happy Couponing Mommas!


Leila said...

Yeah Laura! I'm the friend with the binder. :) Price matching is actually fun and addictive, it's such a huge reward when you've saved a large sum of money.

Great Blog Jen. Laura told me about it a while ago while on mat leave and you're quite funny. :)

Raising Cains~ said...

I had no idea Superstore and walmart would price match. (Not that I live within 2 hours of either) but for the times I get there, good to know!!

Callie said...

You've mentioned your weekly meal plans a few times, care to share them with us? Even just a few weeks worth?

Jen said...

Hey Callie,

I'd love to - I've had a few people ask about this and, honestly, I keep forgetting!! :p

I might start sharing my meal plans every week... why not? I'm doing it anyways, might as well post it up for the world to see! Don't judge me when, every once in a while "KD" is planned for a weekday night! :p ha ha ha.

Thanks for the inspiration though, I'll definitely get on this now that I'm reminded!


Callie said...

All mommies know the value of KD ;) Looking forward to getting some meal inspiration!

Michaela for Havedeals said...

Who was the author of this guest post?