My senior year of high school I was crowned “Ms. En Vogue.” Yes, I strutted around those hallways like I owned the place, with my designer purses and high-heel shoes.
I loved fashion, enjoyed pushing the limits, and most of all — loved shopping.
Back in my high school days, I either recycled my retail store paychecks back into the store or batted my eyes at Daddy.
Once my husband came along, my dad gladly handed off the debt and cheered loudly at what a rich man he was to become now that I was somebody else’s shopping crisis.
How ironic that after only two married-and-on-a-budget years, my dad recently asked me to teach my mom how to shop.
Uh-huh. That’s because this mama’s got a brand new bag, and that bag was on sale with an additional 40-percent-off coupon and shipped to me at no cost using the free shipping code.
Shopping crisis no more — this mama learned about couponing.
A few months ago I was staring at the woman in front of me at the checkout, like women do. But I wasn’t looking at her purse or beautiful coat. I was staring at her pile of coupons. “Where did she get those?” I thought, practically drooling as her total price went lower and lower. “I must have it, I must!”
Just like the old days, I decided to start educating myself on this hot trend. That is when I found out that all my friends were doing it, too. This was one bridge I was going to jump off.
It has taken me some time to learn the coupon lingo, where to find them, where to use them, and I am still learning. The amounts of information and the time it takes can be overwhelming.
But nothing is like that first trip shopping, strutting in with those coupons like you’re in a brand new pair of heels and handing them over to the cashier, listening to her groan, and then watching your total bill slowly slip away.
If you’re not couponing yet, jump on the bandwagon. With a little practice and help, you’ll be one smart shopper.
Here are some beginner tips from me and other Couponing Housewives of Douglas County:
1. Check out your local store’s coupon policies and coupon lingo to get started. Here is a great site for that and more: http://www.livingrichwithcoupons.com/beginners/extreme-couponing-101.
2. Once you get the coupons, you must organize the coupons. Given that everyone organizes differently, here is a great site with a number of different and effective ways to organize your coupons: www.couponing101.com/2011/09/how-to-organize-coupons.html.
3. Coupons will only save you money if you are still only buying the items you need. Just because it is $2 doesn’t mean you have to buy it.
4. Ashley Alliman says that common grocery stores offer double your manufacturer’s coupon in weekly ads. With these coupons, you can pair them with specific product coupons and typically receive up to 50 cents back per coupon. Manufacturer coupons are widely accepted at both national chain and local grocery stores, and the best place to find them is in your newspaper or online. Do your research and combine these manufacturer’s coupons with grocery store coupons to maximize your buying power.
5. For groceries, I work off of my list for about a week before I go shopping. I take the items that I need and continually search for them on the store sites, couponing blogs or the newspaper. I also make a list of upcoming birthdays, weddings, baby arrivals, and other purchases on the horizon. That way, when something neat at a great price shows up, I can use it effectively.
6. Ashley Dancer says that there are great applications for your smartphone that show all the local in-store deals, the price of each item, and if there are in-store or manufacturer’s coupons that can be printed while also giving you the final price. Some phones will allow you to scan the coupon directly off the phone. It is a great resource, it’s alphabetical and it’s free.
7. With your Fred Meyer Rewards Card, you can go online and upload all the manufacturer’s coupons directly to your card. They will instantly come off when you purchase. How is that for easy organization?
8. I’ve done the research and Costco gives you the biggest bang for your buck the majority of the time. However, if you don’t know if you’re going to use it all, don’t buy it all. Make sure to check their coupon books, too.
Here are our favorite spots for your local store coupons, manufacturer’s coupons and online shopping deals:
Your newspaper and local store websites will publish weekly coupons.