June 7, 2011

shopping smart

Now that we're once again a single-income household, it's becoming alarmingly clear that we need to tighten the purse strings and stop spending money like we're used to. In an effort to save a bit here and there on our grocery bill, I've started some not quite TLC-extreme couponing. I've always been skeptical of coupons and never saw the value in spending time clipping to save 55 cents on something, but after just a couple of weeks, I'm here to tell you that if you do it right, there are absolutely serious savings to be had.

I'm still learning, and I've gotten a lot of helpful advice (and a ton of printable coupons) from the Money Saving Mom website, and also from The Krazy Coupon Lady. There are a lot of similar sites out there, but I find that these two post frequently enough and cover so much ground, that if I followed any more blogs on the topic I would be completely overwhelmed by all the information and coupons out there and would never be able to actually leave the computer to shop.

One thing that I will say is practically essential if you want to get started saving the big bucks is a good organization system. Most of the reason that I've never successfully used coupons in the past is because even on the rare occasions when I would clip them, I would stuff them in my bag and completely forget about them until they were long-expired. This time, I've adopted the Krazy Coupon Lady's system of using a coupon binder. That's right, a binder! This is serious business, people! There is even a printable PDF on the site with common categories so you can make dividers and find things quickly. For a quick and easy way to get started and get organized, I would say it's a great way to go.

And since I'm a sewer, I couldn't resist making myself a little accessory for my new hobby. I needed a pencil case for my binder to stash my scissors, pencil, and notepad, and I really didn't want to spend my hard-saved dollars on an ugly plastic one. And after all, it's only a rectangle with some holes in it, I can just make my own. Isn't it cute?

I used some scraps from my scrap bin, a zipper, some bits of Peltex, and added 3/16" eyelets that I set with my Crop-A-Dile. I love it! And since it didn't cost me a dime, I'm sure the Krazy Coupon Ladies and the Money Saving Moms would be proud.

And before I go, I just have to share one thing that I've learned in the last couple weeks on my money-saving adventure. Even if you don't want to invest the time in clipping coupons, you should always pick up the weekly circular in the front of the store first thing when you walk in the door. I never did before, and I always assumed that the "sale" prices that I was seeing on the shelves was the same information that is communicated in the circular, so I figured there was no point. What I didn't realize is that there will frequently be a store coupon in the circular to give an even deeper discount off the already discounted sale price that is advertised on the shelf, but you have to have the circular to know that! Unless you have a nice checker who will point out a missed opportunity to you when you check out, you could be paying too much, even when you're buying something on sale! Since I almost always use self-checkout, I've been missing those opportunities for years. NO MORE!!

How about you? Do you coupon? Any other money-saving advice for me? Have you sewn yourself a cute pencil pouch recently? Do tell!