Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Coupon Game and how to play

Hello, folks and welcome back to our regularly scheduled programming at TFB!  I sincerely apologize to the masses of facebook and those who commented on my status and blog for the "mahna mahna" outbreak.
Blame Greg. 
That's what I do.
It always sometimes works.
In other news, though, I got a few emails from my last couponing grocery shopping post forever ago, so I thought I would do a follow up.  I had a pretty epic shop this week, check out my haul!
I do about 90% of my shopping at Tops, and usually pick up a few things that are much much cheaper at Walmart, like carrots, peanut butter, etc.  Once a month, I'll go to the co-op and get bulk grains like quinoa, bulgur, oat bran, etc.. but the vast majority of shopping is done at Tops (for groceries and household stuff).  I think they are less crazy than Wegmans, and I've found that their prices for healthier fare are quite a bit cheaper, especially when I use coupons.  This weeks haul above?  Before store specials and coupons =$111.38
After? $57.87
Wowza!  With that many groceries for that kind of dinero, you can't go wrong!  Especially if you take a closer look...we've got veggies, greek yogurt, protein, Almond Milk, craisins, flat out wraps.....YUM!
  So how do I play the game?

1.  Read your store Ad every weekend.  I sit down on Sunday afternoon (after the long run, baby) and read the store ads.  For Tops, I write down all of the good sales  on a sheet of notebook paper, and see what we need, what is a good price, and what I think I have a coupon for.
2.  Clip those coupons!  I get the coupons in the paper, and so does my mom and uncle.  We clip the ones we use, then pass them around, so if I use a brand of yogurt they don't (like super expensive greek!) I can get 3 coupons for it instead of one!  I also scan couponing sites regularly, like,, and the "krazy coupon lady" page, which has a database with links to coupons for certain products.  Product websites like pillsbury, betty crocker and fiber one also usually have coupons for their products.  
3.  Keep your coupons in a binder organized by type of product, like "breakfast", "freezer", "protein", etc., so when you are comparing whats on sale in the stores with your coupon stash, it doesn't take forever.
4.  On average per week, it takes me about an hour to clip the new coups, put them in my binder, then compare my coupons with whats on sale.  Not a bad time investment, as I usually "watch" TV while I do it.
5.  Make a grocery list based off of the sales and what else you need in the house.  I am super type A and have a "Master Grocery List" in a word doc that is organized by store layout (which when you go to the same store every week, you get to know!) and I just delete what we don't need and add in the sales so I am good to go!
6.  Don't be afraid to "stack" coupons, or, use a store coupon with a manufacturer one.  Most stores accept this as long as the item isn't less than free, check with your store!
7.  I then head in to the store armed with my coups and ready to go!!  I organize the coups based on the layout of the store, prop my list up on my cart, and zoom through the store in less than 45 minutes!  
8.  be nice to your cashier, especially if you have coupons for "free" items.  I try to remember what they cost, so the cashier doesn't have t look it up.  They really appreciate this!

I usually save about $25-$30 in coupons alone per week-and yes, its on things I WILL actually use!  (that's another biggie-don't buy something just because you have a coup or if its a "really good sale" and you don't need it or won't use it-whats the point?).  That, along with the store sales, and I usually walk away paying about 50% of the total normal cost.

And as a non profit sector worker with a reaallly expensive habit of racing ironmans and eating like a champ to boot...every little bit helps :-)
Yup, thats what she said.

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