Tuesday, August 23, 2011

How to Start Saving

This post is for the newbies, the ones just trying to figure out how to save money (and wondering, can I really save that much money?) I want to cover a few helpful hints that I use, or have used to, hopefully, help you out.

  • Buy a Sunday paper. The Sunday paper is still one of the best places to find coupons, so you need to have one, also if you know of friends that don't coupon but get the paper, ask for their coupons!
  • Regularly check Coupons.com. This is the other place to find alot of coupons. You can enter your zip code or any other zip code to find coupons, and there is new ones on there regularly.
  • Learn to watch the circulars. Keep an eye out for your favorite products - they go on sale in a steady rotation! This is especially important when you don't have alot of room to stock pile. If you know that your favorite toilet paper goes on sale every month you know it's okay if you don't buy 5 packages now.
  • Start a spreadsheet. This one may sound daunting but I'll tell you it is so helpful to me because I am not a numbers person, I don't remember numbers well. If you just remember what all your favorite products cost then more power to ya! I split my grocery shopping between Kroger and Walmart and what I do is bring a notebook with me when I shop and write down product size and price of that store. I only write down what I am already shopping for that visit, so I'm not in there for hours. 
    • For example if I am going to buy Special K cereal at Kroger I write in my notebook every size that store has along with it's price. If I am willing to eat the generic of it, I write down that also, then next time I'm at Walmart I make sure to write down those prices. I have my spreadsheet automatically figure out price per ounce or unit, so I know which one the best deal is - thus knowing where I need to purchase that product. 
  • Price per unit. If you decide not to do a spreadsheet then make sure every time you shop you always look at the price per unit or per ounce. This is the easiest way to save a little money every time you shop whether you have coupons or not. The stores have this info right on the price tag under the product usually small print in the top right or left corner. I was amazed when I started really looking at this info and realized that sometimes the "Value pack" was less of a value than a smaller pack.
  • Facebook. Facebook is booming with amazing freebies and deals, you just have to know where to look! First of all 'like' all the brands you normally buy (Tide, Downey, Freschetta, etc.), they have coupons & free product giveaways just for being a fan. Follow the savings blogs, like this one ;) they will guide you who is giving away what items where and then they also will have giveaways with great prizes for their fans!
  • Know the lingo. Ok, there was a time, not long ago, when I was reading the blogs and couldn't figure out what they were saying, but didn't want to ask - I mean everyone else knew so what was my problem. So here's a few I can think of right now - if there is more, please ask!
    • Circular - the store ads with the weekly sales in your paper (i.e. Target, Walmart, Office Depot, etc)
    • Loyalty card - Many grocery stores have a free loyalty card that you scan every visit for extra savings (see e-coupons)
    • Catalina coupons - these are the coupons that print at the register to use on your next visit.
    • Blinkies - these are coupons you find in the store that you pull out of a box attached to the shelf with a blinking light on it.
    • Peelies - these are the coupons you will find on a product that you peel off, and can usually use immediately.
    • Tearpads - you will usually find these right by a product in the store that can be taken and used immediately
    • Manufacturer/Store coupons - Manufacturer coupons are the majority of coupons you will use. Whether you get them from the paper or print them from the internet, and they will say this on your coupon. Store coupons are coupons you can use only at a particular store. Many stores will allow you to use one store coupon and one manufacturer coupon per item.
    • E-Coupons - You can go to sites like Cellfire, Shortcuts.com and P&G to put electronic coupons right on your grocery store loyalty card. Also check the website where you have the card from (i.e. Kroger), they also have e coupons to load. Be careful though, some stores use your e coupon as your one manufacturer coupon, so if you have a better paper coupon give that to the clerk first, Before they scan your loyalty card. 
    • 7/31SS - things like this represent when the coupon was in the paper - so this particular code would translate that it was in the paper 7/31, in the Smart Source coupons. There is also PG (Proctor & Gamble) & RP (Red Plum). If you have a binder you won't really need this information since you will have all your coupons cut out and sorted, but it's good to know what it means since you will see this alot. 
  • Make/Buy a binder. Whether you have a room to stock pile or not I think a binder is THE tool for success. The reason I say this is because there is only so many deals in the circular. I don't know how many times I have gone to the store and seen a product on sale or even clearance and think I know I have a coupon for that, but can't find it in my little coupons stash I have. If you have a binder you can easily flip to your Pharmacy coupons to see, and 10 seconds later, yes you have the coupon, you can get that item!
I hope this helps some!

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