Lately I have been trying to think of ways that I could either make money or save money. I already have a part-time dictation job but I still wanted to do something more. I have a couple of facebook friends that are really into couponing and I have been checking in on http://stlmommy.com/ for a while now for all sorts of freebies and good deals.
I have looked into the couponing thing before but it just seems so overwhelming and complicated. There are store coupons, manufacturer's coupons, register rewards, etc. Another friend of mine has really gotten into it lately and she was able to set some things straight for me and she also gave me quite a few good resources for couponing questions: http://www.thecouponproject.com/the_coupon_project/2010/01/reader-discovers-the-new-way-of-shopping.html
With all of these resources, I actually did get some really good information. The top things that I took from my reading were #1 always buy when an item is on sale #2 do not be afraid to stock up on an item #3 try to only use coupons on sale items to really bring the cost down #4 don't be loyal to any one brand or any one store #5 don't use a coupon just to use a coupon.
So after reading the on the http://couponproject.com/ I set off on Sunday and bought 2 Post Dispatches. I diligently searched through both of them and cut out every coupon that I thought I could use and I tried to organize them.
Here are the 2 stacks of newspapers:
After cutting up the papers, this is what I came out with:
After cutting out the coupons, I then went through all of the ads. The two big ones that the couponing websites talk about are Walgreens and Target. These two stores always have store sales on food items and if you can match up a manufacturer's coupon with a store sale, then you can save really big. I then went on and looked at the grocery stores and even went online to see if I missed anything.
By this time, I have put in a couple hours of work and about $4 in newspapers. I did fnd some really good deals at Walgreens on razors, Mucinex and Pepto and there coupons for those items, too, so if I actually make it to Walgreens to purchase those items, I will definitely save money.
I was a little disappointed, though, in the coupons that I cut out and the sales on those items at Dierbergs, Shop-N-Save and Schnuck's. Remember, according to the couponing sites they all say that you should really try to use a coupon on sale items but there were only 3 or 4 items that matched up and they were at different stores. There is no way that I was going to run to one store for a coupleo of things and to another for a couple of more things.
In the end, I decided just to go to Shop-N-Save and try to do some grocery shopping. I don't normally shop at Shop-N-Save mostly for the inconvenience of location but I decided to treck down Route K and try it out. I was happily surprised to find that they had a lot of sale items and I was able to stock up on quite a few canned goods. I did buy the Shop-N-Save brand on some canned goods and staple type items and when I checked out, it said that I saved $30 and some change on SRP items (items that were on sale); however, after all of my effort, I only saved $3.50 in coupons. LOL After all of that effort, I actually came out $0.50 in the hole!
I know that couponing does work for a lot of people and I know that this was just my first time but it really didn't make me want to run out and get next Sunday's paper. What I have learned from reading up on all of this, though, is the idea of stockpiling and trying to buy items only when they are on sale. I really think that I can make a better dent in the grocery bill by focusing on sale items when possible.
I think it will take a few trips to the grocery store to truly get down the idea of buying sale items and using coupons when I can but I'm going to keep at it. I may not be the best couponer but I think I will pay more attention to prices.