You can save 50% or more on grocery and personal care items, and it’s not as much work as you think.
You’ve probably heard of the show “Extreme Couponing” on TLC, and while those people are intense, using coupons can be an easy way to save lots of money. Here are the 5 steps to start you on your path to savings.
1. Get 2-4 Copies of the Chicago Tribune
The first thing that any couponer needs is coupons! Often two of the same coupon are needed to make the deal, so multiple copies of the inserts are key. The Chicago Tribune is the largest paper in Chicago and has the most and highest value coupons.
Call 1-800-311-8500 to subscribe with any of the following coupon codes:
- Sunday Edition, 1st copy JCSO ($0.50/week)
- Add 1 Sunday Edition JCX1 (+ $0.50/week)
- Add 2 Sunday Editions JCX2 (+ $1.50/week)
- Add 3 Sunday Editions JCX3 (+ $2.25/week)
2. Get Organized
You will need to buy a plastic storage hanging file box to store your coupon inserts. This will cost you around $20-30 from any office supply store. (Or save more money and recycle a storage bin you already have.) Stop cutting coupons now! Label each insert you get with the date and abbreviation on the front with a sharpie (Smart Source = SS, General Mills = GM, Red Plum = RP, Proctor and Gamble=P&G, etc.).
Organize your hanging file box according to insert type. Put all the Smart Source coupon inserts together in one hanging file and the Red Plum coupon inserts in another.
You’ll need to start collecting coupons for about one month until you really start seeing the savings because you’ll be able to make better deals.
3. Change How You Shop
The concept of using coupons is simple: Wait until your grocery store puts an item on sale and cut that price even more by using a coupon. Grocery stores use a 3-month cycle, so the price hits its lowest point only once every three months. You’ll have to start buying a 3 months supply of the items you use and eat regularly in order to last until that item goes on sale again.
4. Make Deals
When you are first getting started it is easy to get overwhelmed. I recommend starting with only one store at a time. Do not start running around to every grocery and drug store when you are first starting out.
Jill Cataldo is the best couponer in Chicago. She makes the best deals and her weekly “Deals of the Week” Blog post is clear and easy to follow. It’s organized by store and she explains what coupon should go with what sale (remember how you started labeling your inserts, this is crucial for this step). You can access her blog here. She usually posts that week’s best deals by Sunday night.
5. Don’t Give Up For At Least 3 Months
Remember that you have to start buying more now, in order to save later. It often takes 3 months to start seeing the savings because you are waiting for that low price from the store. Once you have stocked up on goods, you’ll never have to run to the store to buy an item at full price again because you will have already bought enough by the time that item comes on sale again.
Here’s an example of the savings: A few weeks ago, the Gillette Venus Spa Breeze was on sale for $8.99 at Walgreens. If you bought the razor, you also got a $6 Register Reward Certificate (this is like a gift card that you can use again on a different purchase at Walgreens), the reward, plus a $2 off manufacturer’s coupon, and I got my razor for $0.99!