If I recall right, it was back in 1998 when I first started using coupons. At that time, I was a recently divorced mom escaping domestic violence, and I had three young children to care for. Gas and grocery prices weren't nearly as high back then, but being a single mom, earning a little above minimum wage ($5.15 per hour) working as a CNA (certified nurse's assistant) was not easy in those days either. Since things were just as hard in 98, I started couponing to save as much money as I possibly could.
During the beginning of my couponing days, I didn't know near as much about using coupons as I do now. In fact, I rarely saved money and often wondered if clipping coupons was worth my time and effort. Given that I thought the coupons failed in saving me money, I felt my time was better spent focusing on caring for the kids and working, so I stopped clipping coupons. Only if I knew then what I know now.
Anyway, life continued, I re-married in June 2004, and with the Lord's help, I managed just fine without the coupons. Then in 2008, my household size increased to seven (including myself). On top of that, the cost of gas and groceries started to go up, and with only two incomes and a house full of seven people, I made it a point to learn how to use coupons to get the most savings. In addition to couponing, I learned many other ways of living frugally, and throughout this website, I'll be sharing all the information I've gained knowledge of and will continue to absorb. Let's begin with a few couponing tips.
6 Couponing Tips From a Frugal Coupon Mom
1. Compare the price of the name brand product with the price of the store brand item. Sometimes you'll discover that even after the discount the coupon offers, the store brand will still cost less. I'll discuss this in more detail within a future article.
2. The buy X and get Y for however much off won't really save you much money unless you plan to buy X and Y anyway.
3. Only buy what you need. Don't buy extra just because there's a good coupon for the product or it's on sale.
4. Gather all the sales papers from your local stores to see what's on sale. Make a list of the sale items you might use, and then see if there are coupons for those items. Browse through your coupon binder as well as the printable coupon databases online. Then create your grocery list based on the information you gather. Also, buy the product from the merchant who offers the cheapest price for the same product, and refer back to my first tip as you prepare for your shopping trip. To do this, it's best to have a pricelist of the store brand products you use the most from each of your favorite stores.
5. Enjoy greater savings by using a manufacturer coupon in combination with the store's coupon on a sale item.
6. Ask your favorite stores when their double coupon days are, make note of them on your calendar, and then shop on those days.
While these are only a few tips from a frugal coupon mom (me), I hope the advice I shared will help you understand how couponing really can save you money. I only wish I knew all this back in 1998, but there were less mouths to feed than now, so at least I'm armed with this knowledge when I need it the most. 😉
If you know of any other couponing tips, comment and share what you know to help others who are trying to save as much money as they can. Pay it forward, and I'm sure you'll be blessed for sharing your expertise.