I have always felt that couponing would be a way to save my family some money in the monthly budget. I have toyed with it in the past, saving a little here and there when I remember to take the coupons with me to the store but otherwise, it has not been a consistent quest and I have never tracked anything really. I have read several books and blogs but nothing really stuck with me…..until now.
I fortunate to have been able to review Christi the Coupon Coach’s book Couponing Made Simple: Simple Steps to Successful Couponing. I received the book in the mail and got started right away. The chapters were easy to get through and the language was plain and not overly flowery, making it easy to get through the chapters. As a busy, homeschooling, work-from-home mom, sitting down to read a book is a luxury (unless its Dr. Seuss or The Story of the World, you understand) so I was grateful for the quick read.
Christi is very thorough in her book. Starting with the basics, including definition of the all the acronyms and “types” of coupons for those of us that really didn’t understand all of that to begin with.
She shows pictures of her system and explains why it works for her family but does give alternatives from what other people have told her works. I liked that too as every household is different.
The book has many examples, with pictures in most cases, of success stories with couponing. One example shows a family using couponing the first time purchasing $97.49 worth of groceries for $50.97 buying name brand cereal, yogurt, sausage, pasta sauce, etc. These are things that I would buy and seeing them save almost 50% is a little motivating at least.
So after getting through the book, I gathered my materials (an accordion folder and the Sunday newspaper) and got started. The first Sunday I bought 4 papers like she suggests in her book but at $2.00 per newspaper here in my town, and no Dollar General that sells them for $1, the next week I went with two.
I did keep the ads separate, recycle the newspapers, and label the coupon inserts with the date before filing them into my accordion file. I still have on my to-do list to label the sections of my accordion file but I wanted to get started right away. They are separated but it takes me a minute to find Red Plum or SmartSource, etc.
I have used a few couponing website in the past. Christi’s book talks about using these websites but does not give any in particular. This is probably due to wanting not to make the book obsolete at some point should specific websites change, disappear, or whatever. But if you go to Christi’s website, she has lots of links to her favorite couponing websites.
I went to some of mine, and checked out some of hers, and started printing my coupons for the week. I was making my first shopping trip to actually purchase everything for a luncheon I was hosting. I was anxious to see how I would do on my first venture out with my new couponing attitude.
First, I must say, it took longer than I wanted, as I did not have my system down and was not as organized as I should have been. I forgot to take scissors so tearing coupons took some time and, as I mentioned, I don’t’ have the accordion file labeled. (I have since put in a pair of kids little scissors into my accordian file. That made the second trip better.)
Second, and to no fault of my own, our store JUST rearranged a month ago and I’m still not sure where everything is again so that slows me down anyway. I was comparing prices and referring to a couponing app at the same time. So…lots going on. I’m glad the first trip was without the kids!
I will note that, ironically (and sadly) the week after I received my book, my primary store, Kroger, announced it would no longer be doubling coupons. Well, that threw a wrench in the savings but that’s ok. Also, the third week after reading the book was a week where the Sunday papers had no coupon inserts. That makes it difficult to build up the arsenal of coupons.
That being said, I found the coupon matchup websites, which I had seen before but truly didn’t understand well until I read Christi’s book, a big help in finding the best deals. This takes a little time but probably is worth it in the end. (Christi talks about some of these on her website, so be sure to check them out.)
Since we have dietary restrictions in our household I didn’t think couponing would “work” for us but I found that I can search for the products I’m wanting and find them in many cases. There are all kinds of websites that help you find the coupons for the specific things you are searching for to purchase.
The best things about Christi’s book is how simple it made the process. The definitions and processes explained in plain, simple English. I didn’t feel I had to invest half my week or eat Ramin Noodles or whatever else was on sale in order to coupon. She made me feel like I could do this for my family.
So… back to the first trip. Armed with my less than stocked coupon accordion file, a list, and my smart phone with my new app on it, I headed to my store for some shopping. For my first couponing trip, I saved $13.48 with coupons on my $77.75 bill – that’s a 17% savings. Which isn’t one of the best I’ve heard but, I think it wasn’t terrible for my first venture. I actually was pleased, though would have liked to see something a little bigger. My second Kroger trip I saved over $15 with coupons. It was only 8% of my bill but….every little bit counts, right?
Next I headed to make some purchases at Walgreens. Christi’s book talks about how to understand these types of stores and how to use the rewards programs they offer to your benefit. So I headed there for a few things. I saved on their ads but didn’t have any coupons for my purchases but I did receive points at Walgreens. Couponing Made Simple explained how to use the point values at stores like Walgreens to help save so I was conscious of this. I did the same when I hit CVS. I even took the time to make sure that I grabbed their sales ads when I walked in and sent for a replacement CVS card so I can begin scanning my card for extra savings when I get to the store.
One of the other great things about Couponing Made Simple is that there are tips and tricks included in one of the chapters as well as a chapter on networking and communication with your store and their management. I thought this was great to give you ideas on how to handle couponing “issues” should they arise.
Additionally, there is a bonus chapter that discusses how to save money with yard sales and thrift shops. This was a good chapter as well and gave me some tips I hadn’t thought of. I have always been a thrift shop shopper, for the kids, but I have stayed away from garage sales because they scare me a little 🙂 But Christi’s book helped me see the advantages of stepping outside my comfort zone and hitting some garage sales.
Overall, I really like Couponing Made Simple. I didn’t feel like I need to have a stockpile of toilet paper in my garage and 50 cans of soup to “save.” This book made me feel like I could save some money in my family budget by spending just a little time each month doing a few things. I look forward to developing my system, using Christi’s tips and tricks, and helping my family budget by doing some couponing. This month alone I saved over $30 from our grocery budget and I’m now much more cognizant of ads, coupons, sales, and how to maximize my money
You can purchase Christi’s physical book for $18.00 or $4.99 for the ebook through her website. This book is great for any age because its a short, descriptive read and in plain English. My daughter (8 years old) read the chapter on garage sales and is ready to garage sale herself now!!
Be sure to check out Christi the Coupon Coach at her website and on Facebook for additional couponing tips and tricks and to learn all about her book to help you and your family save on your next grocery bill.