Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Couponing and Saving $$$

My mom had been a coupon clipper and user for as long as I can remember. After getting married, I also began clipping and using coupons, but I hardly took it seriously.

As our family grew from two, to three, and now to four, couponing has become a sport for me. My two year old points out the Kohl's that's only one mile from our house and says, "Kohl's. Coupon." Yep. It starts young, folks.

So here are my money saving and couponing tips and tricks. I am by no means an expert, nor will you see me on Extreme Couponing on TLC (a very amusing show, I must say!).

  • This is by far the best couponing website I've found. The writer offers step-by-steps on how to coupon, a coupon database, and frequent deal updates. This is a great place to get started!

  • Make a list of your family's favorite product brands. Using a Word document, type up a generic message asking that a company provide you with coupons. Be sure to state how much you love their products! Go to the "contact us" section of each company's website and paste your paragraph. (Don't forget to include your name and address). From that same list, sign up for e-mails and online newsletters from the companies. (I got a great response from my coupon requests!)

  • Tell your family members and friends that you want to coupon more often, and ask them to save coupon circulars for you.

  • Decide how much time you can commit to couponing. My couponing takes about one hour a week which includes clipping coupons, organizing coupons, searching online sale flyers, and planning shopping lists.

  • If you find an item your family loves on major sale or clearance, stock up! I recently purchased eight 64oz bottles of organic grape juice because it was in clearance for $2.08 a container. I didn't have any coupons for the organic variety, but at that price, who cares?

Saving money in general:

  • Organize, organize, organize. I have tubs in my basement (purchased in clearance after Christmas, of course!) for girls' clothing up to size 5 (the oldest is only in a 2/3 now). If I find items on major sale or get hand-me-downs, I sort them into the appropriate bin and store. I also have a bin for Christmas cards and wrap (which I got in major clearance after Christmas last year), children's gifts (items I got at a specialty toy store sale---75% off!), and more.

  • Clean green. I clean with vinegar and baking soda. That's it. I use vinegar for EVERYTHING from the cleaner for my mop, carpet cleaner, bathroom cleaner, mirror cleaner, etc.

  • Make your own laundry detergent. Here's my old recipe.

  • I use fabric napkins instead of paper, and I use rags instead of paper towels. Yes, paper products aren't very expensive, but over time they cost a family quite a bit! My next goal is to purchase reuseable baggies off Etsy and stop buying plastic baggies.

  • Rent movies for free from your local library.

  • Teach your kids to shut off lights when they leave the room, not to leave water running while brushing their teeth, etc. My 2.5 year old remembers most of the time to do these things.

  • Organize a swapping party with friends.

  • Organize birthday parties that do not cost a lot. Or have parties just for fun!

  • Plan cheap activities for kids.

  • Get rid of things you no longer use or wear, donate them (get a receipt to take a tax deduction!), and enjoy a cleaner home! You can also have a yard sale and pocket the money! Here are some tips on the whole process.

  • Rotate your kids' toys instead of buying them new things.

  • Plan your meals.

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