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You have had your eyes opened to the world of coupons and you want in.  But how do you start?  You don’t start out spending $10 on $800 worth of groceries, or go from a monthly grocery budget of $600 down to $50.  Ok so where do you start?  For some families couponing is not the answer.  It takes a lot of time, planning, organizing and learning.  There are certain rules you need to live by to make couponing benefit your family.

1. Don’t buy something just because you have a coupon.

  • combine sales and coupons for best savings
  • if you are not going to use the product, don’t waste your money on it

2. Follow the rules

  • store policies
  • coupon policies

3. Set up a spending plan for yourself before going to the store.

  • have a household budget in place that allows for a certain amount spent for stocking up with coupons every week
  • you need to have an idea of how much oop expenses per transaction otherwise you won’t catch an error if one pops up and you will find yourself overspending
  • keep good control of the couponing reins (don’t allow yourself to go overboard)
  • shop with cash, it is limiting
Good way of thinking about the ‘worth’ of something.
Growing up one of my brothers taught me this and I think it helps.  Lets say you want a new ________ (you fill in the blank with something you have been wanting).  Lets say for example a new set of kitchen towels with Santa on them for Christmas, $15.99 for the set.  How much do you bring home for every hour you work (after taxes) _________.  For example $8/hr after taxes.  You would have to work ______ hrs to afford this item.  In my example an extra 2 hours extra just to afford those towels.
Is it worth it?
Then can you afford it?
and Do you truly NEED that item?
I definitely had unrealistic expectations when I first started couponing.  These expectations included immediately saving 80% on my grocery bill every week.  That just is not feasible to begin with.  Instead I was spending a little more.  Yes more, because I not only needed to buy my weekly groceries but I was trying to stock up on those items that I found great deals on.  Eventually though I started seeing a difference.
Where I started saving.
One of my first things I stocked up on was dish detergent.  That usually cost me about $10 every other week.  Cleaning products are expensive and anytime I needed to buy more laundry detergent, floor cleaner, dish detergent or other cleaning supplies it seemed like I would spend about $20 extra that week and it always came out of my grocery budget.  So once I stocked up on that dish detergent (3 months worth to start off with for about $6), that extra $10 every other week could go towards other items.  It then went towards stocking up on laundry detergent ($1.66 ea for 6, 32 load bottles).  Now I had another $10 for every two weeks to put towards the next item I could stock up on and so on.
If I used my $55 grocery spending money to stock up on the best deals this week this is what I would be left with.  (my grocery budget is $110 for every 2 weeks)
30 packages of feminine products
10 toothpastes
8 packages of gum
10 Taco seasoning packets
4 bottles of hot sauce
A family of 4 can’t exactly live on this for a week.  Instead it would have looked more like this. (intended as an example only)
2 lbs G beef
4 chicken breasts
broccoli
bananas
3 loaves bread
eggs
3 gals milk
16 oz cheese
pasta
beans
sugar
cereal
yogurt
taco shells
Then I started adding $10 to stock up on something useful.
Eventually that $10 every week will help decrease your grocery budget until you get it where you, reasonably, want it.
Slow for me doesn’t mean slow for you.
For some you can jump in with two feet and running.  You can budget $100 on stocking up this month and do that for a few months being able to watch your stock pile grow in leaps and bounds rather than my snail of a pace.  But we were, and still are on a strict budget so we keep our spending in check every week.  And remember it takes a a little while collecting coupons before you have enough to make a substantial dent.
Whatever plan works for your family, stick to it and keep track of how much you spend and how much you save.  That way you can know if you need to make changes or you can see your success, and give yourself a pat on the back.  It is not as easy as it looks.
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