Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Grocery Store Couponing: Beginning (Months 1-4)

Okay, I get a lot of emails, stops in grocery stores and occasionally phone calls on how to start grocery couponing. I am avoiding vacuuming the kitchen floor and decided to write a post just about this topic instead (hence the inspiration for the lazy part of the title here).

Here goes.

You need to numbers tattooed on the insides of your eyelids. First, your average grocery budget. Second, how much you spend eating out every month. I don't care what those numbers are by the way, but you need to care.

Your goal is to halve those numbers in the next 4 months.

Now, take 1/2 of the money you spent eating out and put in in en envelope. That is your budget for coupon shopping this month. With that in mind, I would take the rest of that budget for eating out and put it in another envelope. That's all you get for your Big Mac fix this month, make it count. If you have self control issues, I would do this for a few months to keep yourself honest.

Continue grocery shopping as usual for now. Understand that for the first few months you won't see much of a change in budget, truly. You may even spend more than usual if you aren't disciplined. That will pass.

Now, you are going to make yourself a routine. Pick a day of the week and a time. You are going to go grocery shopping at that time every single week, whether you buy 10 things or 100. The reason is that you are forming a habit and learning a skill. You have to be consistent to really make it work.

Now, I like the pinchingyourpennies grocery list. Check your state (obviously mine is Idaho) and find out when each week's list comes up. When it does, print it. Mark the items you need (hint: I only shop the red 4 and 5 star deals) and decide how many coupons you have for these items if applicable. And hold on, we will talk about coupons in a sec. Take this list, write down your estimated total remembering that tax will change things and put your coupons in an envelope or baggie or whatever you want to use to hold them.

Now, for the coupons. I take each week and with a sharpie I mark the date on the front. I don't clip anything. I put them in a binder or in some kind of file (pick the file type you like) and I only pull them out when the pinchingyourpennies list tells me to pull the ad. Then I clip. MUCH easier!

Remember, couponing is a bit of trial and error. You will rock some weeks and suck it up the next. The bad weeks make you better at couponing and you need to learn on your own. A lot of people want to follow me around a store and shop, but I can promise you that you'll never be good a couponing if you follow that tactic. I have yet to see one of those people follow through and continue to coupon shop. You have to just jump in and do this on your own in order to really understand.


Amy said...

Hi Kimber,

Amy&Peter from TBW. Do you know of any good couponing sites like PYP for Canada? I know you have no reason to need one yourself, but have you heard of any in passing??

Marnie said...

Thanks for posting Kimber! I have been to the PYP website and haven't found where to print the grocery lists yet...I'll keep poking around.