civilized couponing 101-Lesson 1

(The photo above shows all of my "free or cheap" stuff due to civilized couponing). 

OK friends, you asked for it, at least the majority of you have.  To those who would rather not read another coupon post, I do apologize and I do promise that this is not going to become a coupon blog.  Like it's role in my life, couponing will just be a little slice of this blog, so hang in there, OK?

This first post is for those of you, like me, who had NO idea where to start because it all seems SO overwhelming and complicated and like some sort of elusive club that requires a complicated handshake.  These civilized coupon lessons will be a series of baby steps, simple easy things that anyone can do.  So if you want to start, here is your chance to ease on in there...and once you are in momentum takes over for you.  The rush of getting 50-60-100% off of items is enough to keep you going back for me.  Knowing that you can buy the things you want and need at a steep discount is a huge motivator.   

Here is some basic info that will help you:

Time: I probably spend about an hour a week on couponing, not counting shopping, which I would be doing anyway.  The majority of that hour is spent cutting out and organizing my coupons from the Sunday paper. I ONLY cut out and keep coupons for things I would normally use or buy. 

Organizing:  I DO use a binder.  But you can use whatever you like best.  Some people like envelopes or those accordion organizers.  Use what makes YOU comfortable even if it's paper clips. 

Resources:  I use Hip2Save the most.  Start with her site...she makes it the easiest!  You can go to Hip2Save, click on stores and then click on the store of your choice and she outlines the best deals to get that week, which coupons to use and how great the deal you can get.  I'll share some more sites with you next time, but I don't want to overwhelm you.

Start! This Sunday, buy a paper.  I have found that the Washington Post has more coupons and HIGHER value coupons than my local paper.  I have started buying both.  Start by looking for coupons on things you would buy anyway and just try to get into the habit of bringing your coupons to the store with you to use.  I really feel like this is the best way to start...snowballing.  Or baby steps.  Saving a little bit, in an easy way will get you kick started.  See if, like my store, your grocery store will double coupons.

Pick a store to start with: On Sunday, when you have your coupons, take a look at Hip2Save under the CVS tab.  She lays out in detail what the best deals are there that week and I have found that CVS is the best and most easy place to start.

An example from this weeks deals that is easy to understand:
CVS had Colgate toothpaste on sale for $2.75.
This Sunday there was a coupon for .75 off of Colgate. 
CVS was also offering $2 in Extra Bucks (essentially CVS money) when you bought that toothpaste.
So...$2.75 minus .75 minus $2 in Extra Bucks equals FREE toothpaste. 

Extra Bucks to me = money.  You can use it on anything at CVS (except prescriptions).  Once you get the hang of it you can keep rolling those CVS bucks over and over until it is very rare that you ever have to use your own cash.

Homework: Buy a paper.  Organize your coupons.  Check out the CVS deals on Hip2Save.  Start somewhere.  Don't worry about getting FREE just yet, start with the small goal of saving ANYTHING and we will go from there.

OK?  Hopefully I haven't overwhelmed you.  I REALLY want to help you baby step your way in and I want you to know that if I can do this...anyone can. :)

Any questions?  I will answer them in the comment section.   You can check out my friend Beth's progress too...she's my little coupon protege and learning right along with all of us. :) Yet another, normal, non-shelf clearing, non-fifty bottles of mustard having mom who just wants to save money where she can. 

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