"That they (the older women) admonish the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed." Titus 2:4-5

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

How-To Beginners Series (1)

So today I will finally begin to compile all the information I would pass along to anyone who is looking to learn to save money through coupons, the internet and other more creative means. Today, I will start by sharing some of the tips, ideas and tricks I've picked up along the way. Feel free to leave your own comments if you feel they will help others!

Be Organized
This is the first thing I learned the hard way. Staying organized with coupons, rebates and ads can save you a lot of money. Many people have coupon organizing systems that fit them personally. I have a 3 ring zippered binder I rigged up that has baseball card holders for all the coupons. Some people use enveloped in a box. Everyone's different. I encourage you to find what works for you and stay on top of it! A little work everyday can keep it from turning into an ugly, seemingly impossible job if you put it off. You can see some people's coupon organizing methods: here, here, and here

Plan Ahead
Almost every place I've looked at about grocery savings has started off by talking about menu planning, lists and planning ahead. If you buy a bunch of cheap stuff that goes bad before you use it, how much money did you save? I encourage you to learn to work the weekly deals that can be found into your weekly menu planning. It can be hard, but it gives you a chance to be creative and you'll probably hear less of "This again?!" I've found that everytime I take the time to sit down and plan out the weeks' meals (including time for entertaining, leftovers and eating out) it's SOOO much easier during the week. I don't agonize all that day about what I feel like making. I just make what's on the list. Many people also encourage cooking ahead and freezing meals, meat, extra ingredients, etc. I'm sure this can be a huge time saver, I just haven't worked up to this point yet. I aspire to though. Moneysavingmom recently did some posts on her baking day where she precooks many items from scratch and freezes them for later use. You may want to check out her ideas.

Save Every Coupon You come Across!!
This may seem silly but I have definitely learned this the hard way. I often throw away coupons I think I'll never use only to learn soon afterwards I could have used them to get free stuff. Even if I never use it, if it's free I can at least give it to someone who will. Some coupons I give straight to people I know will use them. Other stuff I use as gifts (think creative Christmas gifts). I try not to pass up free deals unless I really can't give them away or use them at all.

Take Your Coupons With You
There has been many times that I go to the store without my binder only to find unadvertised deals and items I really regretted not having the coupons for. Sometimes you'll find items on clearance (you can coupons on those too!) and Walmart is always a surprise as to what you'll find

Know Your Stores
It will save you a lot of time and frustration if you know your stores. I know which stores near me accept internet coupons and which don't. Some double, offer incentives and some are just plain difficult to deal with. Some stores allow you to use a Buy One Get One Free coupon with a Buy One Get One Free sale, making both free, while others don't. Walmart does price matches. You get the idea. Be armed with information!!

Check Online
The best deals, coupons and advice can all be found online. I will try to make it a point to round them all up here on this site as much as I can. I once wrote about how someone gave me a giftcard and I jumped online to see if I could find a coupon for that place. And I did. Write manufacturers, sometimes they'll give you good coupons or even free items. Google it. You'll be amazed at what you find.

Now for some DON'Ts

Don't Let Yourself Get Overwhelmed
It's very easy for all of this to be overwhelming. This I also learned. Keep in mind that this should be fun and a hobby. One lady said this is meant to be fun and save you some money, not pay your mortgage. If it becomes overwhelming, take a break. Take a step back. I had to learn that it was OK if I missed some great deals. There'll always be more.

Don't Do Anything Questionable
There are some rules for do's and dont's of couponing. Some people like to break those rules and some have even been taken to court. If it's questionable or you're not sure about it, just don't do it. I've skipped some "deals" posted online that were questionable. Don't sacrifice your integrity for saving money.

Don't Give Up Too Early
It can take some time to get all this stuff down. Down get discouraged too early! It takes lots of practice and can seem like a waste of time and money when you start out (like with Walgreens' rebates). Make sure you give it enough time to make sure whether or not it's really for you.

You can go here to see some more tips from other online bloggers and deal seekers.


Mom2fur on November 14, 2008 at 5:56 PM said...

You are doing a real service here, but don't think it will only be for beginners! I've been a couponer for years now and I'm still learning new things all the time!
I have a binder, too, although I keep my circular intact. One great coupon binder tip I learned, and use, is to keep scissors, pens, and markers (if you go to my blog, you'll see what the markers are for)in one of those zipper pencil pouches that attaches to the rings. That will save you the frustration of having to hunt down your scissors when you need them!


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