Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Couponing for Christmas
One, I can sell on eBay again....and two, I can try this whole couponing craze...
This past weekend, I spent an unusual amount of time researching on the internet on how this couponing thing works. I have to tell you...some of these people with their "stock piles" scare me a bit. Why on earth would you need 200 sticks of deodorant or 400 bottles of Suave shampoo stock-piled in your garage? That type of practice is a whole new type of hoarding sickness. That certainly won't be my goal; I just want to save up enough money to have a good holiday.
So, what do I have to do to become a "couponer"?
Step One: Admit that you have a problem. I've always been a savvy shopper - usually buying the grocery store brand versus the name brands or only buying an outfit when it's on sale, but I will confess that I do not clip grocery coupons on a regular basis, and when I do clip them, I usually forget to take them with me to the store. I also do not look at grocery store ads to find out where the best price is (I prefer the Macy's and Target ads more).
Step Two: Learn the Lingo. Doubling and Stacking. I've been doubling coupons for years at Kroger, but I had no idea you can stack them. Stacking basically means using two coupons on the same item - one manufacturer and one store coupon.
Step Three: Learn how to shop all over again: This is the part that will take some time. I'm not into the whole coupons-in-a-binder thing, but this will take some planning and organization. Learning to plan the weeks meals based on what we have in the fridge and what's on sale will be a huge challenge for my two picky-eating-kids. Good thing is that there are a ton of websites out there that do the deal research for you. So far, my favorite sites are: Krazy Coupon Lady and Couponing for Disney. That should make this process much easier.
Step Four: Sign up for the deals. There are a ton of websites out there and they all want you sign up before they'll give you anything. I created a new email address for couponing only. That way, it never gets mixed up with my other emails. Coupons and deals, as well as feed updates on those 2 blogs above, are sent to that email thus virtually taking away half of my the research work. I also finally registered my Kroger card online so I can add online coupons to it directly, and I'm also going to stop saying no to the "rewards" cards in the other stores. Over time, the points all add up and I have to look at it that way.
Step Five: Set a budget. This will be the difficult part for me. I don't budget my current expenses. If I have the money, I go to the grocery; if I don't have the money, I make what we have stretch until the next paycheck. We eat out WAY too often and I'm a frequent visitor to the coke fountain machine at my work. Those little purchases all add up and that's cutting in my Christmas fund. I'm not sure what my weekly budget for me and two kids should be, but I'm going to set it at $100 in the beginning and see how that goes.
Step Six: Make the budget SAVE YOU BIG! When the budgeted amount is gone, it's gone. If money is left over, it gets deposited into the Christmas savings account. If you pay with cash, never give exact change; put the coins directly in the saving jar to go to the savings account (coins are rarely missed anyhow). Before each pay-period, move the excess money left over in the checking account to the savings account. Don't touch it until it's time to Christmas shop.
Step Seven: Be consistent, despite outside pressures. This process is going to be the hardest on my kids. But I'm planning to get them involved. I hope to give them the job of organizing the coupons and helping me create shopping lists. Cooper is 5 and just learning to read and write; he'll be my list maker. Caleb is almost 10; he'll be my list keeper. Together, we'll gang up on that grocery bill and hopefully, save money like we've never saved before.
Step Eight: Use Couponing for Christmas gifts. And when I say "Couponing", I mean the process of research and watching for the best deals. Groupon, Living Social, Power Hours, Department Store coupons, entering giveaways for stuff my family might love...they all count. What's a three dollar savings if you go out at 5am instead of 9am? Well, if you're buying ten gifts and save $3 each, that's $30 bucks total and the equivalent of a DS game that my kids want. I have to stop being selfish on my sleep and get up early to get the deals.
I'm sure there are many more aspects of this, but this is my game plan for now. Christmas is only two months away and I'll start shopping one month from now. Between this and eBay sales, hopefully I can make some money save up soon!
Anyone else into the couponing craze and have a suggestion or comment?