Sunday, June 21, 2009

Its Like Free Money

Growing up, my dad was the coupon king. On Sunday mornings, we would wake up to find my dad at the kitchen table tearing coupons from the paper. He was a master at the coupon shopping and his wallet was always thick with coupons. Some days he would come home with bags of groceries and proudly tell us that the store had to pay him for all stuff he got. Literally, he would come back from the market with money. He knew the supermarket systems so well that if items were on sale and the store doubled (or tripled) the coupon, he would end up getting money back. It was great. We never ran out of toothpaste or shampoo in the house. There was always an ample supply. My father never understood why people would go to places like Costco or Sam's Club because he felt that they would get a better deal if they just clipped some coupons from the Sunday paper and paid attention to the sales. He was right. Coupon shopping can give you a better deal than shopping at Costco most of the time. (My love for the bulk warehouse remains strong for other reasons.)


I love the coupon shopping process because I understand it and have found a way to make it work for me. First, I try to only clip coupons that are worthwhile so that I am not flipping through a stack of coupons for $0.10 off bathtub cleaners when I am looking for the $2.00 off coupon on dish washing soap. Coupons are a form of advertisement so you have to be careful that you aren't buying things you don't need. Second, I've found a way to make it easy by organizing all my coupons in a little filing folder that is just the right size for coupons. I have the files arranged based on how most supermarkets organize their aisles; for example: condiments, baked goods, frozen items, canned good, etc.


Third, I don't rely on the Sunday paper to get them. Finding coupons online has become so easy. http://www.coupons.com/ and http://www.smartsource.com/ are my favorite sites so far. Fourth, get to know the coupon rules at your local supermarket. Most supermarkets will double your coupons but Harris Teeters is the only that has triple coupon days. Also, most supermarkets limit doubling coupons to ones with savings of $.99 or less. Coupon shopping is really easy once you get started and the savings can be significant. You can even use them when using Safeway's delivery service or Giant's Peapod. More information on that process to come.


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