A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step – Lao-tzu
How did I start couponing?
People often ask me how and why I started couponing. The why is for another much longer post but the how I think could be helpful to some of you!
Beginning to coupon is a step by step process. You don’t just jump into it and walk out of the store with thousands of dollars in groceries for free (ala Extreme Couponing). Like everything else you start as a couponing rookie and eventually become a couponing genius!
Here was my process:
Step #1: The Sunday Paper, a list and Walmart
When I first began couponing I didn’t pay much attention to who doubled coupons or the rebates at drug stores. I wanted everything simple. So each Sunday I grabbed a paper, sat down and cut out coupons for products I used. Then I would go to my pantry and, combining what I already had with the couponing items, plan my weekly meals. After making a grocery list I would go to Walmart, save a few dollars with coupons (and a few more dollars by only buying what was on my list) and head home victorious.
Step #2: The Blogs
So after about a month of couponing at Walmart I was comfortable with that process. I decided to take it to the next level and read a few frugal blogs daily. I signed up for free samples, printed some special coupons and sort of kept an eye on things. This made me more comfortable with couponing lingo and what prices I should be looking for on items. It occurred to me that everyone seemed to be saving really big by using the drug stores but it seemed kind of confusing. So I decided to pick one and try to learn everything I could.
Step #3: Rite Aid
There are 4 Rite Aids between my house and my gym- two are within walking distance of my front door. So I decided to start with Rite Aid. I checked a blog and found one item that was on sale, had a coupon and had an on-line rebate. I went in, bought the one item, processed the rebate and waited a week. The next week there were a few items that were good deals so I went back and repeated the process. At the end of the month the first rebate check arrived and I knew I had a good handle on Rite Aid. It was almost a year later before I started shopping another drug store.
Step #4: Harris Teeter Triple Coupons
So I was doing great with Walmart and Rite Aid. I was saving a little bit of money for very little effort. Sometimes at Rite Aid I was actually making money with the rebates. But I had seen the bloggers on line and what they could do at a grocery store. I wanted to know more about it. Then Harris Teeter announced they were going to have Triple Coupons for a week (meaning any coupon with a face value up to $.99 would be tripled). This was the event I had been waiting for to flex my grocery store muscles and see what I could do. I carefully went through my small coupon stash, pulled out everything under $1 and headed to HT. If memory serves me correctly I saved about 60% on the groceries I bought and I was elated.
Step #5: Stockpiling
During that trip to Harris Teeter I bought large volumes of some things- 2 containers of dish soap, many cans of soup, and numerous boxes of frozen veggies. It was more than I would use in a week. This was the beginning of my stock pile. I put everything away in my house and then noticed the next week my list for Walmart was shorter because I already had food in the house. That gave me some extra spending money for Walmart so I grabbed some mark down grocery items and added them to my stock pile.
Do I still grocery shop at Walmart? Nope- I probably go to Walmart a handful of times a year (although one of my trips is coming up- have you ever been in Walmart during the Superbowl? It’s very empty). Now I have mastered where stores double and I do the bulk of my money saving in the drug stores. But this is the story of how I started. I think you will find for most avid couponers it is probably a similar story.