Couponing 101 for the Minimalist
Have you seen the TLC series Extreme Couponing?
If you’ve seen the show, you have seen people roll overflowing carts through the grocery stores, with hefty binders full of perfectly sorted coupons in tow. You’ve watched them ring up their orders, and you may have been amazed to see their total costs fall to next to nothing. In some cases, extreme couponers were even paid to take loads of products home to rest in a stockpile of items on industrial shelves. After the show aired, it seemed like couponers emerged all over, and the trend caught like wildfire.
Maybe you’re interested in learning how couponing works, but you’re not trying to get extreme. Because 1) ain’t no one got time for that and 2) you’re a minimalist now (I mean–who isn’t in 2018?). If that is the case, keep right on reading.
Budget like a Mother and Reach your financial goals!
I spent a lot of time wondering if I could make couponing work for our family. It seemed so complicated, but the savings were undeniable. I *finally* decided to bite the bullet and give couponing a go. I came across a book called The Lazy Couponer (seriously—how perfect is that) and read it cover to cover. The book is a super easy read. The author simplifies couponing in such a way that I felt confident enough to get started. If the wealth of information on couponing makes your head spin, I highly suggest this book.
I started at one store–CVS—and it didn’t take long for me to catch the couponing bug. Before long, many-a Saturday night and Sunday morning were spent running here, there, and everywhere in the name of savings. I don’t think I could even look at another bottle of conditioner or can of tomato sauce until 2019.
Know thyself–if you tend to go a little hard in the paint, be warned. The rush of watching your total fall to near-nothing (or even ZERO) is straight up addictive. After taking a step back, I figured out how to get the best of both worlds–saving money AND time.
If you’re all about the savings in your pocket, but not about the coupon-clipping life, here are some ways to get the best of both worlds.
EXTREMELY SIMPLE COUPONING
Get a Sunday paper subscription (or two). My paper–The Washington Post–often runs promotions where I can get a paper for 79 cents a week. If you’re just starting out, you can often find papers at the dollar store on Monday mornings. Or, you can ask your neighbor, a friend, or family member for their coupon inserts. OR if you would rather keep things as simple as possible and eliminate the middle man altogether, print the coupons you need for FREE here.
- Don’t clip your coupons right away.
- Organize your inserts and loose coupons. I have used a binder, and I currently use an accordion file.
- Label your inserts with the date and file them away for later.
- Keep the clipped coupons you are ready to use protected in a mini organizer that fits right in your bag. No hefty binder necessary.
Let someone else do the work. There are a number of coupon databases and deal-seeking sites out there. These are some of my faves:
- Living Rich with Coupons – This is my go-to when I’m scoping out deals. LRWC lists where to find printed coupons and includes links to printable coupons. My favorite feature is the price comparison tool, which leads you to the store with the lowest price on whatever item you are looking for. Join one of the LRWC Facebook groups to compare savings and get tips.
- Deal Seeking Mom – I sometimes use the Coupon Database when I am searching for coupons for a single item. The database also includes mobile app deals (Ibotta, Checkout51), which comes in very handy.
- The Krazy Coupon Lady – KCL includes deals from all over the internet, not just grocery deals. Use the app to find deals while you’re out.
Use social media. I utilize several couponing Facebook groups as well as hashtags on Instagram to find deals.
MOBILE APPS & CASH-BACK SITES
Ibotta: This mobile app is my favorite money-saving tool. I use it most often at grocery and drug stores. But you could also use it almost anywhere. Select the deals you want and upload your receipt to get your savings added to an account. You can cash out at $20, sent to PayPal, Venmo, or added to gift cards for a variety of popular stores and vendors. There are also bonuses, so your dollars add up quickly.
Not signed up yet? Use this referral code to get started: cepmycf.
Checkout51: Sign up with email or Facebook, or use the mobile app to save money on groceries. Your savings is added to an account, similar to Ibotta. Cash out at $20 and get a check sent to you.
Ebates: I use Ebates to get cash back on online purchases from hundreds of retail stores and on travel. You can also link your credit or debit card to get automatic in-store cash back. Cash out at $5.00 or get your savings transferred to your PayPal account. Use this link to get $10 in your account when you sign up and spend $25 on your first purchase.
My 3 couponing must-haves
This post includes affiliate links. Read my full disclosure here.
The Lazy Couponer: This book got me started couponing, and taught me most of what I know today about saving money and scooping amazing deals. This book is a top-notch starting place for new couponers.
An expandable coupon organizer: Keep your coupon inserts neat and tidy (and protected from the elements–mainly the kiddos) until you’re ready to use them.
An expandable coupon wallet: Sort and carry your clipped coupons to the store easily without ripping or ruining them. Because a torn up coupon = unusable cash.
WANT TO SAVE EVEN MORE MONEY EACH MONTH?
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