In the last post, Bridget asked a question that requires a rather long answer:
Oh my gosh, Once again, good job!
Can you PLEASE tell me how you’re getting lots of free stuff. Joe just got a HUGE pay cut at work… I could really use some frugal advice. Are you simply using more than one manufacturer coupon for an item?
Thank you in advance!
I thought I’d attempt to answer that here, keeping it concise. And if you have any questions, please feel free to email me!
First of all – finding coupons. We don’t subscribe to the newspaper anymore, but I do try to get my hands on multiple copies of the newspaper coupon inserts (from friends, neighbors, church family, library, etc). This gives me more opportunities to get the coupons I might use. When clipping coupons, I ask myself, “Will I regret NOT clipping this coupon if I could get the item really cheap or free?” If the answer is YES, I clip it and file it in a binder system. Otherwise, I don’t bother.
I also keep my eyes out for manufacturer’s coupons that are available for printing online. Coupons.com is a good site to find coupons monthly (though they’re usually not as good as newspaper coupons). I also occasionally print coupons from Betty Crocker and Pillsbury.
Now, the actual nitty-gritty of couponing could take HOURS to explain. Honestly, I’ve been doing it almost a year now, and I’m still learning and evolving in my frugality. It’s a total change of mindset on how you shop. Let me try to explain as concisely as possible.
First of all, I never use coupons to buy items just because I have a coupon. For example, if I have a coupon for a name-brand product, I won’t use it unless it’s cheaper to do that than buy the store-brand product (with a few exceptions). However, if you’re patient, many times the name-brand products will go on sale, and matching a sale with a coupon is a great way to shop!
Here are the ways I get cheap or free products using coupons:
1. Stacking manufacturer’s coupons with store coupons. Bridget asked, “Are you simply using more than one manufacturer coupon for an item?” The answer is NO. It’s NOT legal to use more than one manufacturer’s coupon per item. However, it’s almost always okay to “stack” one manufacturer’s coupon with one store coupon for each item. The places I am most often able to stack are Meijer and Target. The Meijer store coupons are located here, and the Target store coupons can be printed from here. An example of stacking would be the free veggies I blogged about. I stacked one manufacturer’s coupon for $1 off two bags of veggies with a Meijer Mealbox coupon for $1 off two bags of veggies. So, I got $2 off each purchase of two bags of veggies. (And since they were priced at $1 each, that made them free! Wahoo!)
2. Know how to work the drugstore rewards systems. This alone could take multiple posts, and I don’t have time to type it all out! But you can go here to learn about how to shop at CVS and go here to learn about how to shop at Walgreens. Prior to couponing, I NEVER would have shopped at these places, because the regular prices truly are quite a bit higher at drugstores than other places. HOWEVER, when using coupons, sales, and store rewards, you can really stretch a buck! I’d encourage you to learn as much as you can about shopping drugstores. If you have questions, again, ask away!
Being frugal might be “weird” and “dorky” and not typical of someone in my age bracket. However, it’s our responsibility to be good stewards of the resources that God blesses us with. So, I’ll gladly be “weird” in order to be able to stay at home with my kiddos AND get out of debt, spend wisely, save wisely, and be generous with others! I’d love to encourage others to do the same!