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Save Money on Groceries with Curbside Pick-up

save money on groceries with curbside pick up

Unlike other coupon blogs we’ve always preached that coupons alone aren’t enough to help you save money at the grocery store.  You also have to adhere to a budget, and you have to have a game plan every time you shop.  The pandemic, though, threw a monkey wrench in that game plan. But it also showed us how you can save money on groceries with curbside pick-up.

Let’s talk about curbside pickup

Grocery stores offering curbside pick-up is nothing new but have you ever used it?  Have you ever really even thought about it?  I hadn’t.  I never even looked into it because I assumed there was some additional cost involved that would make it more of a luxury, an unnecessary, expensive luxury.

And then one day, shortly after our governor locked us down, I was loading my digital coupons in my Kroger app when I noticed the banner at the top of the page advertising curbside pick-up.  It caught my eye because I had just been in my local store a few days before and noticed that tempers were beginning to flare and I was concerned about fights breaking out over toilet paper.

No additional charge for curbside pickup

So I clicked on that banner and the first thing I noticed was that there was no additional charge for curbside pick-up.  The ad did say that the fee would be $4.99 after the trial period and that you could use curbside pick-up 5 times before that charge kicked in.  However, I’ve used it 7 or 8 times now and Kroger says they don’t think they’ll ever put that charge into effect after seeing how successful the program is.

You can use coupons on your curbside order

Yes, you can use coupons on your curbside pick-up order.  You are not charged for your groceries until you pick them up.  When you arrive in the parking lot they ask you if you have coupons.  If you do, they’ll come out and get them and deduct them from your total before you’re charged.

Your order is also connected to your Kroger card (or whatever store you’re shopping at) so any digital coupons on your card will also be deducted before you’re charged.  So don’t forget to load those digital coupons!

You can change your curbside order

I usually start my online order 2 or 3 days before I plan to pick it up.  This gives me time to delete that bag of flour because I just found 2 bags in the pantry.  Or I can add butter and chocolate chips to my cart when our chocolate chip cookie stash runs low.

You can schedule your pick-up any time

This is one feature of curbside pick-up that’s really helped save me a bunch of money.  You choose what day and time you want to pick up your groceries and you can change your order any time up until midnight of the day before you’re picking up.  I keep tweaking that total right up to the last minute!

The Best Reason to Use Curbside Pick-up

Now that we have all the little details out of the way, the best reason to use curbside pick-up is that it allows you to manage your budget.  In fact, I usually come in under budget when all is said and done.

As you add or delete items in your cart you can see your total.  That total, though, is based on the advertised price of the item, not the price after your digital coupons are deducted.  And it also doesn’t include deductions for any physical coupons you plan to use.

I watch that total while I’m adding items to my cart.  When that total equals the amount of money I have budgeted for that shopping trip I know it’s time to take a good look at the items in my cart and start whittling out the impulse items to make room for necessities.

Once I’ve moved items in and out of my cart to hit that budget number I usually end up spending less than my budget because physical and digital coupons don’t come off your total until you pick-up your groceries.  It’s like a little bonus!

Shopping online allows you to plan

Now, think about it.  When you go over your budget at the grocery store it’s usually because you’ve picked up a few extra items that weren’t on your list.  Those are ‘impulse items’.  Spending on those impulse items is what puts you over your budget or prevents you from being able to purchase the things you really need.

But who has time, in the middle of a busy grocery store, to take everything out of the cart and sort out what’s necessary and what’s not?  And more important, who has time to do all that calculating and re-calculating?

We’ve always said that coupons alone will only help you save so much money at the grocery store.  Planning and budgeting will up your game to the next level  When you shop online for curbside pick-up you have all the time you need to look at each item and decide if you really need it.  How will it work in your weekly meal plan and your weekly budget?  If one menu item is too expensive this week and it’s throwing off your budget, you have time to shop for a replacement.

Curbside Pick-up After COVID-19

Obviously, curbside pick-up is a great idea during this pandemic.  You don’t have to go into the store and you’re maintaining social distancing.  But I’ve found it to be such a great way to manage my budget that I’ve continued to use it even though most restrictions have been lifted here.

It’s also saved me a huge amount of time I used to spend strolling up and down aisles, looking for the best bargains.   As a bonus – somebody loads all the groceries into your car for you.  I actually have time AND energy left after grocery day!

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Jessica's Kroger Mega Event Haul 11/8/2014

  Jessicas Kroger Haul Earlier this year all the Kroger stores in our area decided to stop doubling coupons so Jessica and I did what any other couponers would do – we started shopping somewhere else. We have Giant Eagle stores here in Columbus and they not only double coupons, they welcome couponers with open arms. Now, Giant Eagle stores are nice and the employees are all wonderfully helpful, but they’re sometimes lacking in variety. But, instead of crossing the threshold of that traitorous Kroger store we usually decided to do without. We rationalized that we were saving even more money at Giant Eagle because they still double coupons and the few items they were lacking really didn’t make that much of a difference. But then we thought to ourselves, “Most of our customers have to shop at store where they no longer double coupons. What kind of couponers are we, anyway, if we’re relying on double coupons to make a good haul?” So, with the Kroger Mega Event fast approaching, Jessica started putting together one of her famous Kroger Hauls. This Kroger Mega Event is one of the Buy 10 Save $5 Instantly events. Buy any combination of 10 participating items and you save $5. You can buy as many as you like as long as you buy in multiples of 10. And what really kicked off this major Kroger Haul was that $.35/1 Pillsbury Baking Mixes and Frostings coupon. With the Mega Event pricing and the coupon we knew we could get these for just $.14. BUT… there were a couple of glitches: Kroger only allows 5 like coupons in a single transaction. That meant that we could only get 5 cake mixes in one transaction BUT if we wanted to get the Mega Event pricing we had to buy 5 other participating items. And, if we wanted to buy 20 cake mixes (which we did) we’d have to come up with 4 separate transactions that each included 5 cake mixes and 5 of some other participating item for which we also had a coupon. Whew! But we did it. And we got $351.78 worth of groceries for only $142.89. We saved $208.89 and nary a coupon was doubled. This Kroger Mega Event runs through 11/18/2014. Check out our haul, grab your coupons and head for your nearest Kroger!    

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How to Save More Money With Coupons – Let's Talk!

Would you be surprised to learn that 43% of American shoppers are happy to save 25% or less at the grocery store? We were, and our first thoughts were, “Good lord! Somebody needs to talk to these people!” And you know what? If you want to save more than 25% on your grocers – a LOT more – that’s exactly what you need to do – Talk about it! It’s not a typo. That 43% number is an official statistic published by RetailMeNot, the largest digital coupon site in the U.S. According to their polls, 92% of American consumers use coupons, yet a whopping 43% of those coupon users are happy when they save 43% or less on their coupon purchases. How to save money with couponsWe wondered why so many would be happy saving so little and suddenly it came to us: Most people don’t really understand how to use coupons. They clip a few here, clip a few there, but they’re not really into it. If they trip over a coupon they can use, yay! If not, they don’t even think about the possibility that there might be a coupon out there somewhere that would save them some money. And yeah, they’re happy that their efforts were rewarded with a $5 savings at the check-out stand, but they’d be just as happy if they only saved $3, and if they saved nothing at all they wouldn’t even notice. Let’s face it, it takes a lot of time and energy to really save money with coupons. It’s an expenditure that most people aren’t willing to make. Everybody’s busy with work and kids and life in general so you really have to be committed to couponing if you want to see more than a 25% savings.

And what’s the best way to stay committed to a goal? Talk about it!

Think about it. When you’re trying to lose weight or stop smoking the first thing the experts tell you to do is tell everybody you’re on a diet or you’ve smoked your last cigarette. Telling everyone around you that you’re trying to achieve some specific goal accomplishes two things:

  • Everyone around you joins in to support your efforts
  • You work even harder because you’d feel like an idiot if you didn’t achieve your goal

So what’s the best way to join the 57% of Americans who are saving 60, 70 and 80% a week – every week – at the grocery store? Talk about it!  Tell your friends and family members how much you saved at the grocery store this week with coupons – even if it was only $5. Take some of those free cookies you got last week into the office and pass ’em around. Won’t you be surprised when one of your co-workers pipes up and says, “I saved $100 with coupons last week. I’ve been using coupons for years. Let’s get together and start a coupon club!” Your Aunt Mary will offer to give you her Sunday coupon inserts. Your mother might chime in with some shopping tips. And your neighbor, who’s also secretly been couponing for years, might offer to be your shopping buddy so you can both bring home bigger and better stockpile hauls. When you start talking about couponing you’ll be even more motivated to see just how much you can save with coupons because everyone around you will be boosting your excitement. It won’t take long before you’ll wonder why you were ever one of the 43% who were happy to just save 25% or less.

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Are You Making This Huge Mistake With Your Coupons?

Be PreparedEvery day we clip thousands of coupons and we see so many people making the same mistake, over and over again. We know exactly what you’re doing because we used to do it, too. Every Sunday morning Mary sits down with the ads from her Sunday paper and plans out her weekly shopping list. She then turns to her favorite coupon clipping service – The Happy Couponer – and orders up 2 coupons for this and 2 coupons for that, may 3 of this one and oh wait, I only need 1 of those this week… Before she clicks the Paypal button, Mary leaves us a little note in her shopping cart:

Please, please PLEASE ship my coupons today. My ad expires on Wednesday!

But Mary must have forgotten that we don’t ship coupons on Sunday.  The Post Office isn’t open on Sunday therefore we couldn’t ship her coupons on Sunday even if we wanted to.  She’ll have to wait until Monday and that means she might not get her coupons in time to hit that big sale. [box type=”info” style=”rounded” border=”full”]Mary could save herself so much stress and worry if she’d only plan ahead and order her coupons when they first become available instead of waiting until the products go on sale.[/box] In every household there are certain items you purchase on a regular basis. Whether you shop weekly or shop to build a stockpile, it only makes sense to always have coupons on hand for these staples. You never know when you’re going to trip over a great sale, and even if the product isn’t on sale you’ll still save money when you use the coupon. It’s also safe to assume that almost every product you have a coupon for will go on sale before that coupon expires. So if you’re thinking, “Wow! That’s a great coupon, but I’m not going to waste money ordering it right now. What if XYZ product doesn’t go on sale?” then you’re thinking wrong. It’s almost a sure thing that it will go on sale and you’ll miss out on the deal because you waited too long to order your coupons. But even if XYZ product doesn’t go on sale before the coupon expires, you’re going to need to buy it anyway. It might have cost you a few cents to order that coupon, but having it handy when you need it will save you a few bucks. Plan Ahead and Be Prepared! [box type=”tick” border=”full”]If you see a coupon for a product you know you’re going to need to buy sometime before the coupon expires, order it now and put it in your binder.[/box] [box type=”tick” border=”full”]Almost every product in the store goes on sale 4-6 times a year. Order enough coupons to meet your needs until the next sale.[/box]  

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How do I find out about grocery store deals in my city?

Dog on GoogleAt least once a week we think, “Man! Wouldn’t it be great to live in XYZ City? Their grocery store is having a Triple Coupon Event this week!” We try to alert you when we see these announcements but there’s no way we can keep up with every sale in every grocery store in the country. But you can. Here’s how! Use Google to Find the Best Bloggers There are thousands of bloggers all over the country who cover grocery store, pharmacy and department store deals. Some also cover online shopping deals, freebie offers, giveaways, and frugal living advice. Somewhere out there is a blogger who covers exactly what you’re looking for, you just need to find her. And that’s where Google comes in. Just go to your Google search bar and type in whatever it is you’re looking for. If you’re looking for deals at a specific store, go to your Google search bar and type: Name of store, followed by the word “deals” followed by your city or state. For example, “Target deals Columbus Ohio” If you’re looking for deals on a certain product, type in the name of the product, the word “deal” or “sale” the name of your city or state. The general date also helps narrow down your search. For example, “Pampers deals Columbus Ohio 1/5/2014” In most cases the first few listings you’ll see will be store or manufacturer listings. Scroll down the page though and even go to the second or third page, and you’ll start seeing all the different blogs pop up. Don’t stop at the first blog you see – check out three or four or five. Read some of the posts, bookmark them and come back a few times, heck – subscribe to their newsletters and see just how informed they really are. Before you know it you’ll have all the information you need to shop and save money at any store in your marketing area.

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You don’t need coupons to start saving money at the grocery store

If you’ve been clipping your little heart out, don’t worry. We’re not going to tell you you’re wasting time. But if you’re hestitant about using coupons – and many people are – we’re going to tell you how you can start saving money without all that clipping and sorting. And once you do – you’ll happily jump into couponing with both feet!

Now, prepare yourself. Don’t reach for that mouse so you can click away. But…

The secret word is: Budget.

Here’s what you’re doing wrong

We know. You’ve been putting off couponing because you think it’s going to take a lot of time and effort, and in the beginning it does. But we’re not here to talk about couponing (yet…) Let’s talk about one easy little step you can take to start saving money.

Way back before we started couponing we’d just go to the grocery store every week and pick up whatever we needed. Most weeks we spent around $200 – sometimes more, sometimes less, depending on what was on sale and what caught our eye that week. But we never actually set out on our shopping trip with the thought: This week we’re only going to spend $200.

But shopping like that inevitably causes two problems:

  • You have a week every month or so where you only have $100 bucks to spend at the grocery store so you have to cut back to balonga sandwiches and meatloaf.
  • You and your family feel deprived because you couldn’t buy everything you wanted that week.

When that happens, you tell yourself “I’m going to set up a budget so this never happens again” – and we all know how well that works. The next week, when you have money again, you go right back to your same old shopping habits and forget all about that lousy week they just had, living on mac & cheese and ramen noodles.

Start small and take baby steps

The mistake most people make with budgeting is that they try to reach their goal in one giant step. It’s like trying to lose weight. If you tell yourself you’re going to lose 50 pounds this month you’re only setting yourself up for failure.

The best way to achieve any goal is to break it down into small, manageable, bite-size pieces.

This week, when you go to the grocery store, give yourself a strict spending limit and make it small, so it’s hardly noticeable. For example, if you typically spend around $200, tell yourself you’re only going to spend $195 – period. Not around $195, but $195 exactly – no more.

It’s easy to reduce your grocery spending by 5 bucks without feeling the pinch when you open the cupboard. You skip one package of cookies and give the kids a banana instead. You take a pass on that top-shelf pasta sauce that makes you feel like a gourmet chef and reach for the Prego or Ragu instead. Anyone can shave $5 without blinking an eye.

Now saving $5 this week may not seem like much but here’s what happens:

  • You gain a sense of achievement
  • You realize that it’s possible to set a goal and reach it
  • You start wondering how much more you could save now that you see how easy it is

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time

Right now reducing your grocery spending looks like a huge task. That’s why it’s important to start small and get some wins under your belt. If you typically spend around $200 a week, tell yourself this week you’re only going to spend $200 – period. Next week limit yourself to just $195. The week after that set your limit at $190.

Eventually, though, unless you change some habits, you’re going to reach a point where you do feel like you’re depriving yourself and your family. But by the time that happens you’re going to be hooked. You’re going to start looking for ways you can still provide the same tasty meals, treats and snacks and still keep decreasing your spending.

When you reach that point, come back here and we’ll tell you how to start using coupons!

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How to Stop Saving Money and Start Reducing Your Spending

save-money-with-couponsTake a close look at your grocery spending over the last two or three months. Are you spending lots of time and energy clipping coupons so you can “save money” but still spending the same amount at the grocery store every week? If so, then you’re doing something wrong. There’s no question about it – Yes, you can save money when you use coupons. But what are you doing with the money you save? There’s a big difference between “saving money” and “reducing your spending.” Are you really saving it or are you just spending it on more stuff?

What it means to “Save”

You walk into the grocery store and pick up a box of cake mix that costs $1.25. You hand the cashier a coupon for 25 cents off and you pay only $1. That means you spent 25 cents less, but it doesn’t actually mean you “saved” 25 cents. The definition of “save” is, “To keep and store for future use” and this is where a lot of couponers make a big mistake…

They’re dazzled by the word “Save”

How many times have you seen a sign that says, “You SAVE $.25!” and thought to yourself, “Wow! If I buy 10 of these cake mixes I’ll save $2.50!” But you really won’t “save” anything. In fact, you’re probably spending money you didn’t plan on spending simply because you think you’re “saving.” You may even be buying something you don’t need just to “save” a few bucks, or after you’ve “saved” that $2.50 you turn around and spend it on something else you never planned to buy. So you never really saved $2.50 at all.

That $2.50 you saved is only imaginary money unless you can put it in your real wallet to keep for future use.

What it means to “Reduce Your Spending”

Over the last 8 months we’ve actually reduced our grocery spending by 60 percent – every week. That means we no longer spend $150-$200 every week at the grocery store. In fact, some weeks we don’t even go to the grocery store. Now, when we average it out, we’re spending $60-$70 a week. We’re not just saving money, we’ve actually reduced our spending every week. 

How to Stop Saving Money and Start Reducing Your Spending

Set a Budget for Groceries

When we first started couponing we’d come home with bags and bags of groceries. As our stockpile grew we’d pat each other on the back and shout, “Look how much we got and look how much we saved!” It was only at the end of the month, when the bills started rolling in, that we realized we’d spent a lot of money just so we could see a big number in the “Savings” column on our grocery receipts. Now, we set a limit on our weekly spending. Before we head to the store we know how much we’re going to spend and exactly what we’re going to spend it on. The key here is to stop thinking that you’re going to “save money” when you use coupons and start thinking that you’re going to “get more for the money you spend” when you use coupons. And as you gain experience your money will go even further.

Shop with a List

Before we head to the store we create a detailed shopping list. Our list includes:

  • The items we’re going to buy with coupons
  • The number of each item we’re going to buy with coupons
  • The items we’re going to buy without coupons

When we create this list we have our store’s ad in front of us, along with all of our coupons so we can calculate the exact cost of everything as we go. Then, we juggle our needs, the items on our list and the number of each item until everything we want to buy fits within our budget.

Know your prices

Stores and manufacturers know they’re going to get your attention with those big, bold SAVE! signs. They know the only thing you’re going to look at is how much you save. But you need to look at how much you’re going to have to spend. If you spend $2 for a bottle of dish detergent because the sign says you’re saving $.50 and you can get that same detergent at another store for the regular price of $1, then how much have you really saved? Nothing. In fact, you’ve spent $1 more than you need to. Know the regular prices for the staple items you buy on a regular basis so you know if you’re really “saving money.”

Know Your Needs

When you see a sweet deal on toilet paper you’re tempted to pick up enough to last for a year – and that’s great. By all means – do it! BUT… Remember, it doesn’t matter how much you save. What matters most is how much you spend.  Do you need to buy a year’s worth right this minute: Every product goes on sale 3 or 4 times a year. Maybe you only really need enough to last until the next big sale. Do you have room in the budget: If you’re over-spending when you take advantage of these great deals then you’re going to need to cut back somewhere else. Otherwise you’re not really reducing your spending at all. Can you make room in the budget: We talk a lot about learning how to Think Outside the Box here at The Happy Couponer. If you want to take advantage of that great deal, take a look at your list and see where you can make some changes. For example, when we had the opportunity to pick up Betty Crocker cake mixes for 25 cents each we jumped on it with both feet . We picked up 30 cake mixes that week because we knew we could use them to make cookies, donuts and other desserts – things we could now remove from our shopping list because we got such a great deal on the cake mixes. Now, instead of spending $4 for a package of donuts, we just open up one of our 25 cent cake mixes and make our own donuts. If your goal is to reduce the amount of money you spend at the grocery store then it only makes sense to focus on how much you’re spending – NOT how much you’re saving.

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10 Simple Steps to Writing the Ultimate Coupon Shopping List

10 Simple Steps to Writing the Ultimate Coupon Shopping ListIn our guest blog post at CouponsDaily.com last week, Jessica explained the importance of making two shopping lists – one for your stockpile coupon items and one for your “regular” and non-coupon purchases. Since that article was published we’ve been flooded with email, all saying the same thing: It makes sense, but HOW do you do it? So today, we’re gonna break it down into 10 easy steps. This example we’re using is an actual list we used just a few weeks ago.  We didn’t make up products and coupon values just so we’d have something to show you.  So yeah, this works. Of course, our real first step is always to study the ads and do the coupon matchups, but doesn’t everybody already do that?  So let’s get right to the actual shopping lists! Colgate toothpaste – On sale 10/$10 (Free with coupon) Coupon – $.50/1 any Colgate Toothpaste (3.5 oz or larger, excludes 1.8 oz, 2.8 oz bonus, .75 oz and .85 oz trial)(3/8/2014) – Doubles to $1 Want to purchase: 24 Manufacturer limitations: Only 4 like coupons per transaction Store limitations: Must by multiples of 10 qualifying items to get the sale price – Limit of 5 like coupons per transaction First, we look at how many we want to purchase. In this case it’s 24. We based this number on our household usage.  Because the manufacturer limits us to 4 like coupons per transaction, that means we’re going to have to perform 6 transactions to get the full 24 tubes of toothpaste.

Step #1: Set up six individual shopping lists and put 4 tubes of toothpaste on each one.

(Remember: We need to buy 10 participating 10/$10 items to get that sale price, so we’re going to need to add 6 more participating items to each transaction.) Maruchan noodles – regular price $.99 (Free with coupon) Want to purchase: 25 Coupon: $.50/1 Maruchan Noodles – Doubles to $1 Manufacturer limitations: None Store limitations: Only 5 like coupons per transaction We want to buy 25 of the Maruchans and we can only use 5 like coupons per transaction.

Step #2: Add 5 Maruchan noodles to the first 5 transactions.

Skinny Cow Candy – Buy 3 get a Catalina coupon for $3 off your next purchase (Avg. price: $3 each) Coupon:  $1/1 box Skinny Cow Candy (4.65-6 oz) Want to purchase: 18 Manufacturer limitations: None Store limitations: Only 5 like coupons per transaction We could buy 5 boxes in each transaction but we get that Catalina coupon every time we buy 3. We want to buy in multiples of 3 so we get that Catalina coupon and we’re going to use those coupons to help pay for our final transaction. Note: We already know we’re going to end up with $18 in Catalina coupons to help pay for our final transaction. Yayyyy!

Step #3: Put 3 boxes of Skinny Cow Candy on each of the six shopping lists.

Hungry Jack Hash Brown Potatoes – On sale 10/$10 (Free with coupon) Coupon: $.50/1 any Hungry Jack Hasbrown Potatoes – Doubles to $1 Want to purchase: ??? (We don’t really care because they’re free!) Manufacturer limitations: None Store limitations: Only 5 like coupons per transaction We still need 6 items in the 10/$10 sale in each of our 6 transactions, but we can only use 5 like coupons per transaction.

Step #4: Add 5 Hungry Jack Hashbrowns to each of our 6 transactions for a total of 30 boxes.

Remember: We need to buy 10 participating 10/$10 items to get that sale price. We have 4 toothpastes and 5 hashbrowns, so we’re still going to need to add 1 more participating items to each transaction.

Step #5: Choose that 10th item carefully.

To take advantage of the 10/$10 pricing you only need one more item. Either add one participating non-coupon item from your “regular” shopping list, or choose an item that you don’t have to buy 2 or 3 of in order to get the coupon savings. Bird’s Eye Recipe Ready Frozen Vegetables – On sale Buy 6 Save $3 for total of $1.49 each (Free with coupon) Coupon: $.75/1 Bird’s Eye Recipe Ready Frozen Vegetables – Doubles to $1.50 Want to purchase: 30 Manufacturer limitations: None Store limitations: Must buy multiples of 6 qualifying items to get the sale price – Limit of 5 like coupons per transaction We want 30 and we can only use 5 like coupons in a transaction, so this one’s easy.

Step #6: Add 5 bags of Bird’s Eye Vegetables to each of our 6 transactions.

However, we still need to add one more item that’s included in the Buy 6 Save $3 deal or we don’t get these free. Sooooo… Dole Fruit Smoothie Shakers – On sale Buy 6 Save $3 for totoal of $1.50 each ($.50 with coupon) Coupon: $.50/1 any Dole Smoothie Shaker  – Doubles to $1 Manufacturer limitations: Only 4 like coupons per transaction Store limitations: Must buy multiples of 6 qualifying items to get the sale price – Limit of 5 like coupons per transaction We’re just buying these to make up that 6th item in each transaction. They’re only $.50 with our coupon and we like ’em, so this works for us.

Step #7: Add 1 Dole Fruit Smoothie Shaker to each of our 6 transactions.

Step #8: Make your “regular” shopping list

Label this list Transaction #7. This list is all your non-coupon items, like fresh meat, fresh produce, fresh baked goods, etc. It also includes those items you only buy once or twice a year – like spices, or some of those heavy duty cleaning supplies – or holiday items or new products you want to try. You’ll be surprised at how small this list becomes after just a couple of months of savvy “stockpile” shopping!

Right now, your shopping lists should look like this:

How to Make Your Coupon Shopping List

Step #9: Organize your coupons

Before you even leave the house, separate your coupons and use a paper clip to attach them to each transaction. You’ve already planned out exactly how many of each item you’re going to buy, so sort your coupons at home where you don’t have any distractions. To help organize your coupons and make your shopping trip a real breeze, check out Jessica’s Kroger Haul Video for one of her Secret Shopping Tips.

Step #10: Checkout time!

Pay for your first 6 transactions first. If you’ve done your homework, you should already be able to tell how much this is going to cost. In our case, we knew each transaction would cost approximately $9 for the Skinny Cow Candy, $.50 for the Dole Fruit Smoothie Shaker and approximately $1 for the extra item we had to buy to make up the 10 items for the 10/$10 sale. That’s a total of $10.50 for each of the first 6 transactions. Don’t forget, we also got a $3 Catalina coupon from each of those transactions, for a total of $18. Now pay for Transaction #7 and use those Catalina Coupons. Depending on how much you spend for this transaction you could conceivable walk out of the store with two carts full of groceries for $66! At the very least, when you add all your receipts together, you’ll finally see that huge savings percentage like those extreme couponers get on TV.

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Why We Don’t Like the Word ‘Moneymaker’

If somebody told you you could make money while shopping you’d be interested, wouldn’t you?  Probably even interested enough to click on that link.  Which is exactly why every couponing Tom, Dick and Harriet uses the word “Moneymaker” in their headlines – it attracts your attention and forces you to click. that. link!

But here’s why we don’t like the M-word:  It means different things to different people.

Our definition of a moneymaker coupon

You’ll rarely see us promoting a coupon as a “Moneymaker” here at The Happy Couponer.  In order for a coupon to be a real moneymaker, we believe you should be able to use it and walk out of the store with more cash than you walked in with or use it and be able to use the overage to at least partially pay for the other items in your cart.

For example:

Scenario 1 – You have a coupon for $1 off Betty Crocker Macaroni and Cheese and it’s on sale for $.50.  If you buy 10 boxes and use 10 coupons you should walk out of the store with $5 that you didn’t have when you walked into the store.

Scenario 2 – You have $50 worth of groceries in your cart, including 10 boxes of Betty Crocker Macaroni and Cheese.  You have 10 $1-off coupons for the mac and cheese and it’s on sale for $.50.  When you go through the checkout you get credited $10 because of your coupons and the $5 overage comes off your total, making your groceries only $40 instead of $45.

Their definition of a moneymaker coupon

We’re not faulting other bloggers.  We all have our own definition of the work “moneymaker.”  But we wholeheartedly disagree with bloggers who call it a “moneymaker” deal if you have to spend money to get rewards that you can’t use until sometime in the future.  Here’s an example of how some bloggers put it:

XYZ store has Gillette Venus Razors on sale for $6.99.  They’re promo says if you buy 2 you’ll receive $5 off your next order.  Use 2 coupons for $4/1 Venus Razor and you’ll pay $5.98 out-of-pocket and receive $5 off your next order.  Final Price $0.98 or $0.49 each when you buy 2 (after your $5 savings on your next order.)

In a way we can see how this would be classified as a moneymaker.

BUT… First, you have to spend $5.98.  Second, you only receive back $5.

So technically you’ve still spent $.98. But the most important reason this is misleading is the fact that you’re getting $5 that can only be spent in that specific store – in the future.  What if you never go back to that store again?  You’ve lost out on the 5 bucks.  And if you do go back, chances are you’re going to spend more than $5.

It’s a “moneymaker” for the store either way, but is it really a moneymaker for you?

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Check Your Grocery Store for After-Christmas Deals

Before you head out to take advantage of all those after-Christmas mark-downs, don’t forget to put your grocery store on the list of places you want to check out. You might be surprised at what you’ll find.

We’ve worked and shopped in grocery stores in 6 different states and they’re all basically the same: 

Their current ad will run through the entire week: Instead of changing ads on Wednesday or Thursday they’ll let it run through Saturday or Sunday. Traffic is down for a few days and a lot of employees have time off, so they don’t change the ad. If you passed up a great deal last week because you were too busy to get to the store, you probably still have time.

They’ll put out a special ad: Look for a special one- or two-page ad, just something to get your attention and maybe promote some clearance items.

Look for Unadvertised Deals

Grocery stores, like any other store, bring in extra stock on just about everything during the holidays. The difference is they don’t wait until January to start marking stuff down.

Holiday decorations: They know you’re not going to come into the store looking for marked down decorations after Christmas, you’re going to go to your local department store where you’ll have a broader selection. So they mark everything down before the holidays while you’re still in the store to buy it. If you haven’t already been looking for those unadvertised deals on decorations, now’s the time to start.

Storage containers: Look for mark downs on holiday food storage containers and bags and foil roasting pans. They all last forever and they work whether it’s a holiday or not.

Perishables: The bakery department is a good place to start. Look for pies, cakes, cookies, muffins – anything they may have overbaked for the holiday. When you find a good deal, snap it up and put it in your freezer.

The deli is another good place to look for bargains. Cheese balls, sausage and pepperoni can all be frozen and those specialty snack crackers have a long shelf life.

Look for markdowns on fresh and frozen turkeys in the meat department, along with roasts, bacon and breakfast sausage. Again, stock up and put it in your freezer.

And don’t forget to check the bread aisle for price reductions on bread, donuts and holiday snack cakes. You can put all of these items in your freezer, too.

Bottom line: Do you really need more holiday decorations to clutter up the attic? Probably not. But you’ll always need food, so start at the grocery store first and take advantage of those after-Christmas bargains.

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Two Coupons Blogs We Don’t Like and Why We Don’t Like ‘Em

We follow lots of coupon blogs and subscribe to more couponing newsletters than you can shake a stick at. But that doesn’t mean we like all of them. Sometimes we follow them just to see what they’re doing wrong!

Here are two coupon blogs we follow and the reasons why we think you should be careful if you’re following them, too.

The Krazy Coupon Lady – Surprised that she’s first on our list? We must be krazy, too, right? After all, she’s been on TV, she’s written books, and she has millions of followers. Pffffftt! We think she’s full of … a lot of hot air.

Yes, she puts out a lot of money-saving advice and information. But here’s what we don’t like about The Krazy Coupon Lady…

She’s very misleading in the way she presents her match-ups and deals, especially her CVS, Target and Walgreen’s deals – or any other store that has a rewards program. She tells your “final price is..” based on the Rewards points you get when you purchase but she glosses over the fact that you have to actually buy the products first and that means you have to spend money. Here’s an example, here’s one of her CVS deals for 12/22-12/24:

Buy 2 Almay Color + Care Liquid Lip Balm $5.99, regular price Buy 2, Receive $5.00 ExtraBucks, Limit 1, Valid 12/22-12/24 Use one $5.00/2 – Almay Cosmetic Products, excludes trial/travel size – (coupons.com) Pay $6.98, Receive $5.00 ExtraBucks Final Price: $0.99 each, when you buy 2

The “final price” is NOT $0.99 when you buy 2. The final price is $6.98 – that’s how much you have to spend to earn $5 ExtraBucks that you can only spend if you go back to CVS and spend MORE money.

Conclusion: Follow her for the information she provides but beware and read between the lines!

Couponaholic.net – We’re not sure exactly who the Couponaholic is but we’re almost certain he’s covered with slime and lives under a rock. This guy is, in our opinion, the very reason stores look down on couponers and the very reason some couponers never really manage to save any money.

First, like The Krazy Coupon Lady, he misleads his readers with his matchups and deals. It’s not even necessary to link to a specific blog post because all of his posts read the same. He tells you you’ll save some outrageous percentage but he glosses over the fact that you have to spend money first before you get those rewards points or wait 10 weeks until your mail-in rebate arrives.

But here’s why we really despise this guy – He cheats the stores and the manufacturers, and that’s what gives couponing such a bad reputation. 

In that blog post he tells about how he was disappointed with a mail-in rebate for a Blood Glucose Monitor he bought at Walgreen’s. The mail-in rebate form said he’d only be reimbursed for his out-of-pocket cost, and since he’d used reward points to buy the monitor it didn’t really cost him anything out-of-pocket. So he was going to return it and get a refund on a Walgreen’s gift card – for the full price!

Conclusion: Stay away from this guy. All of his blog content is designed to get you to click on a printable coupon (and when you do, he makes money.) Even if his matchup information is accurate, he gives couponers a bad name and doesn’t deserve your support.

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How do I find stores in my area that double coupons?

just google itWe’re fortunate to live just a few blocks from a Kroger store that still doubles manufacturers’ coupons (knock on wood) but you might not be so lucky. Other than hopping in your car and canvassing every store in the state, how do you find grocery stores in your area that double manufacturers’ coupons? We’re glad you asked!

Just Google It

Look for stores: Start by searching for grocery stores in your area. You might think you’ve heard of all of them but you might be surprised when you see what pops up. Type “grocery store” and the name of your city or a nearby city. Look for coupon policies: Once you get a list of local grocery stores (or pharmacies), visit their websites if they have one. Look in the menu bar at the top of the page and look in the footer at the bottom of the page to find a link to the store’s coupon acceptance policy. Look for local bloggers: While you’re at it, bloggers can be a valuable source of information. There are lots of bloggers out there who cover just one store. For example, we follow KrogerKrazy.com, a blog that covers just the Kroger stores in one particular city in Ohio. We get up-to-date sale and matchup informtion from her that’s relevant to our marketing area. Just go to your Google search box and type in the name of your favorite store, the name of your city or state, and the words “deals” “matchups” or “blog” and see what pops up. Before you shop at any store you should always contact them directly to find out about their coupon policy. Websites aren’t always immediately updated and some chains leave it up to the individual store managers to decide what they will and won’t do. And unless you’re shopping in the exact same location that blogger shopped in, with the exact same cashier, you can’t be certain you’re going to get the same results. Always contact the store first to verify their coupon policy.

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How to save with coupons? Here's our Number One Tip!

couponing strategyOver the past year we’ve managed to cut our grocery budget by 65 percent. Imagine it. If you’re currently spending $200 a week on groceries you’d now only be spending $70 a week. What could you do with an extra $70 a week? Lots of things! What’s our number one tip for success?

Plan Your Shopping Trip Before You Leave Your Home

We always manage to save at least a little money every time we shop because we always have coupons with us. But when we have to do a big grocery trip and/or we know we’re going to be using a lot of different coupons, we always save more if we have a strategy ready before we hit the store. Couponing is like anything else in life – the more time and effort you put into it the better your results.

We go into greater detail in our post “Step by Step: How We Saved 83.5% on Our Last Shopping Trip” but here are some things you need to include in your strategy: How many like coupons can you use in a transaction? If you want to buy 20 boxes of cake mix but your store only allows you to use 5 like coupons per transaction, then you’re going to have to break up your cake mixes into 4 separate transactions. How many do you have to buy to get the lowest price? Is it 10 for $10? If it is, do you have to buy 10 to get that price? Can you mix and match? If you save $5 when you buy 5, will you save $4 if you buy 4? What are the limitations on the coupons? You might want to buy 20 packs of BIC razors but if the coupon says “only 4 like coupons per day, per household” you’re going to have to make multiple trips or bring along a few friends. And if the item is on sale 10/$10 or Buy 5 Save $5, then buying four is going to mess up your count. How big are the items? Will you need more than one cart? If so, who’s going to push it? Where are the items located in the store? For really big trips we actually lay out our shopping list according to the layout of the store. We already know we’re going to be spending a lot of time pushing a shopping cart. Might as well do whatever we can to minimize the walking. There are dozens of distractions once you enter the store, lots of pretty, shiny displays, new products and screaming kids. Don’t leave your savings up to chance. Plan your couponing strategy before you leave home and you’ll save a lot more money.

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How many coupons should you clip?

free couponsIt’s a common question. You want to be able to take advantage of a great sale but you don’t want to spend time and money gathering up coupons you’re not going to need, so how many coupons should you clip if you want to maximize your savings? The answer is: It depends.

How “great” is the deal?

Every product has a sales cycle. Over a 3 or 4 month period it starts out at a regular retail price, then it drops to a “good” price, then it drops to a “great price.” Eventually, once you’ve gained a little experience, you’ll learn to recognize these sales cycles for all the staple items you buy.

The key to maximizing your savings is to wait until a product goes on sale for that “great” price and use a coupon to make it an even “greater” deal – and then buy as much as you need to last 3 or 4 months until that great price rolls around again.

The problem is, you may desperately need that item now, while it’s at the regular retail price, and since you have a few coupons you’re tempted to “stock up and save.” Resist this temptation! If the item is not on sale, buy the smallest amount you can to hold you over until the next “great” price rolls around.

How much do you need?

Those extreme couponers you see on TV build a stockpile for the sheer thrill of buidling a stockpile. Seriously, there’s no need to buy 500 tubes of toothpaste – even if they’re free – unless you plan to donate 490 to a charitable organization.

Every item in the store goes on sale every 3 to 4 months. If you can work a coupon deal so you get an item for free then by all means get enough to last a year (assuming it’s non-perishable). But realistically, all you need is enough to last 3 or 4 months until the next sale rolls around. (And who really has room to store 500 tubes of toothpaste, anyway!)

How much room do you have?

We have four people in a small house – 2 adults and 2 minis. That’s a lot of toilet paper, especially if we tried to stock up a year’s supply. Add in all the other staple items we try to keep stocked and you’re looking at a pretty large pile which requires a pretty large storage space. Thankfully, we have a full, dry basement. What about you? Do you really want to line your living room walls with toilet paper?

Is it perishable?

Be sure to check expiration dates and know how long you can safely store products in your refrigerator or freezer. There’s no “cents” in buying a year’s worth of frozen chicken pieces if they’ll go bad before you can use them.

Are you sure you’ll use it?

One blogger we know stocked up on a whole year’s worth of this fancy oatmeal for her two-year-old because she found a “great deal”, it sounded tasty and she knew oatmeal was healthy. Unfortunately, the two-year-old’s digestive system wasn’t very happy with all that fiber and disaster ensued! Needless to say, the oatmeal was quickly donated and the mom was out a lot of money.

And let’s face it – your family may like Hamburger Helper now, but will they still like it after you’ve served it to them twice a week for a year?  Everything goes on sale 3 or 4 times a year so there’s never any need to buy a year’s worth of anything.

If it’s a new product you’ve never tried and you’re not absolutely positive your family will like it, but it’s such a great deal you can’t pass it up – buy one first and try it out. If it’s a win, go back and stock up!

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Can You Really Save Money With a Coupon Clipping Service?

What is a coupon clipping service?

A coupon clipping service provides clipped, individual coupons for a fee. One of the main benefits is that you can get coupons that you wouldn’t ordinarily find in your own newspaper inserts. For example, there’s currently a Wet ‘n Wild coupon out there that’s available in RedPlum inserts only in select cities. But Wet ‘n Wild cosmetics are available in stores nationwide so everybody wants this coupon.

Why would anyone want to use a coupon clipping service?

A lot of couponers buy their local Sunday paper just so they can get the coupon inserts. In some areas this can cost as much as four or five dollars a week. But most people don’t use every single coupon in the insert, so when you do the math they’re paying a lot of money for just a few coupons.

“At TheHappyCouponer.com,” says Crowe, “our average coupon price is just $.08. You can get 50 coupons of your choice for the price of a Sunday paper in most areas. That’s 50 coupons that you know you’re going to be able to use. Why waste the money on a paper you’re not going to read and a bunch of coupons you won’t use when you can spend the same – or even less – and get exactly what you want?”

Coupon clipping services are also a great benefit for extreme couponers who buy in bulk. Crowe often has customers buy 40, 50 or 60 copies of one coupon because they’re stocking up their pantry. “A few weeks ago I had a couple of customers buy 120 of that $3 BIC coupon because in some areas it was a money-maker, they could actually make money when they bought the product because the coupon was worth more than the product cost.”

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Step by Step: How We Saved 83.5% on Our Last Shopping Trip

Anytime you use coupons you’re going to save money at the grocery store, but you can save so much more – and get so much more for your money – if you take some time to plan your shopping trip.  

Here’s how most people use coupons…

They sit down on Sunday morning when the paper comes and clip the coupons for the items they normally buy every week. Some weeks they might clip only one or two, and other weeks they might clip 10 or 12.

Then, when it comes time to do the shopping, they sit down and write up a grocery list – based on what’s in the pantry – without considering the coupons they have stashed in the drawer.

Then, when they actually do the shopping, they consider themselves lucky if they manage to shave $5 off their final bill. With a little advance planning, you can immediately shave 50 percent or more off your grocery costs.

Watch This Video First!

How to Prepare for Your Shopping Trip

Clip more coupons – Most people buy the same brands and products week after week for two reasons:

They like the product and the price fits their budget. Consequently, they often pass over coupons for the same product from a different manufacturer because they think it’s too expensive to begin with and a 25-cent coupon won’t make much difference. (In the example below we’re going to show you just how wrong this assumption is.)

Instead of clipping only the coupon for Kraft Macaroni and Cheese because it’s already inexpensive to begin with and you know your family likes it, clip that coupon for 25 cents off Betty Crocker Macaroni and Cheese, too. Sure, it might be more expensive at the regular price, but you never know when it’s going to be on sale. Mac & cheese is mac & cheese and if you can stack a coupon with a sale and get it at a great price, who cares who makes it?

Important: We know you read other coupon blogs. We do, too. But here’s the mistake most people make: You see a matchup for Betty Crocker Mac & Cheese and the blogger tells you it’s free at XYZ store this week if you use a coupon and you think, “Well, there’s no XYZ store in my area so that’s not for me.”

Wrong! If it’s on sale in Ohio this week, it will probably be on sale in some other state next week. Sales are cyclical, and they move from region to region, so always be on the lookout.

Clip multiple identical coupons – If you can use a coupon and get a box of Betty Crocker Macaroni and Cheese free, it only makes sense to get more than one box. After all, it’s something you buy every week, right?

If you normally pay $1.29 for that box and you serve Mac & Cheese once a week, that means you’re spending $67.08 every year on mac & cheese. Get that one free box and you’re still spending $65.79. If you can get it free, pick up 52 boxes and you’ve just literally removed $67.08 from your annual grocery budget.

Repeat that process with enough of your staples and you can easily reduce your grocery budget by thousands of dollars a year.

Know the sales – Really read your store’s weekly ad. Look at everything that’s on sale. Then, spend a half hour or 45 minutes walking the aisles before you even make your list. You’ll be surprised at the number of close-out and unadvertised sale items you see once you start looking for the shelf tags.

Don’t have the time? Wrong! How many times do you stop in for milk or bread every week and then you end up spending a half hour browsing the snack aisle? Spend that time scouting the store for sale items that aren’t in the ad.

 Know your store’s coupon policy – Our store frequently runs three types of mega events: On select items, if you buy 5 you save $5, on select items if you buy 10 you save $5, and on select items you can buy 10 for $10. Our store also still doubles coupons up to 99 cents. That means a 75-cent coupon is worth $1.50, and 99-cent coupon is worth $1.98, and so on.

On the downside, our store only allows you to use 5 identical coupons per transaction, and a lot of manufacturer coupons state you can only use 4 per transaction these days.

This is why it’s so important to plan your shopping trip in advance. If we want to walk out of our favorite store with enough Betty Crocker Mac & Cheese to last a year, we’re going to want more than 5 boxes so we’ll need to do more than one transaction.

Our Shopping List for This Weekend

Now, it’s time to start planning your shopping trip so we’re going to show you an example of our own list.

Here are the deals we definitely want to take advantage of:

Betty Crocker Macaroni & Cheese: On sale this week – Buy 10 at $1 each and save $5. With our coupon for $.25 off ONE (1) we save an additional $.50 on each box (because our store doubles.) That means we can get this free this week – IF we have enough coupons AND we split it into multiple transactions. BUT – we can only use 5 coupons per transaction and we need to get 10 items on the Buy 10 Save $5 list if we want that extra $5 savings, so we’re going to have to buy 5 of something else on the list. We want to get at least 30 of these in this shopping trip.

Betty Crocker Cake Mixes: On sale this week for $1.49 and if you buy 10 you save an additional $5. That makes them 99 cents each. Our coupon for $.75 off TWO (2) doubles to $1.50 off TWO (2) which makes these 25 cents each in the end. We use these to make cakes, cookies and bars so this is an item we want to stock up on, and since we have to buy TWO to use the coupon we can get all 10 and still use only 5 coupons in the transaction. We want to get at least 20 of these in this shopping trip.

Oreos: The 8 oz. packages of Nabisco Snack Saks are on sale this week for $1.49 and if you buy 10 they’re 99 cents each. Our coupon for $1 off THREE (3) brings these down to 66 cents each. These are great for lunch boxes and, while it’s not really crucial that the kids have cookies every day, this item is important because it’s going to help us fill in the gaps when we mix and match for those 10 items. It doesn’t matter how many of these we get because we’re just using them to fill in the gaps.

French’s French Fried Onions: The 6 oz. Package is on sale this week for $2.99 and if you buy 10 they’re $2.49. Our coupon for 50 cents off ONE (1) doubles to $1 making these $1.49. It’s a good price, we’ll use them for the holidays, and they’ll help us when we need something to make up the 10 items in a mix. We want to get at least two of these in this shopping trip.

Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup: On sale this week for $1.19. Buy 10 and you save $5 which brings these down to 69 cents each. Our coupon for $.40 off FOUR (4) doubles and brings these down to 49 cents each. We use these and they’re also a good item to help mix and match those 10 items. It doesn’t matter how many of these we get because they’re always on sale. We just need them to fill in the gaps.

Maruchan Bowls or Yakisoba Noodles: Regular price is 99 cents.  Our coupon for $.50 off ONE (1) doubles to $1 so we can get these free. Another side dish we can wipe out of the budget if we do it right. (Don’t worry. We just use the noodles, we don’t actually eat all that salt!) We want to get at least 10 of these on this shopping trip.

Marie Callender Side Dishes: On sale this week for $1.49. With our coupon for $.75 off ONE (1) we can also get these free. Another side dish we can wipe off our list for an entire year – IF we have enough coupons AND we split it into multiple transactions. We want to get at least 20 of these on this shopping trip.

Planning the actual shopping trip

Now, we need to keep two things in mind:

  1. We have to buy multiples of 10 of the items that are on the Buy 10 Save $5 list. Yes, we can mix and match.
  2. We can only use 5 identical coupons per transaction 

This means, if we want to get 20 boxes of Betty Crocker Mac & Cheese, we’re going to have to use 4 transactions. BUT… we’re also going to have to buy 5 more items from the Buy 10 Save $5 list if we want to get that additional $5 savings. By the same token, we can get 10 boxes of Betty Crocker Cake Mix because our coupon is for 75 cents off TWO boxes, which means we only need 5 coupons per transaction.

This is where the planning part comes in. Here’s our list, broken down into transactions:

Transaction #1

  • 5 Betty Crocker Mac & Cheese – $.50 x 5 = $2.50 With coupon = FREE
  • 2 Betty Crocker Cake Mixes – $.99 x 2 = $1.98 With coupon = $.50
  • 3 Oreo Snack Saks – $.99 x 3 = $2.97 With coupon = $1.97
  • 5 Maruchan Bowls – $.99 x 5 = $4.95 With coupon = FREE
  • 5 Marie Callender Sides – $1.49 x 5 = $7.45 With coupon = FREE 

Total Retail: $19.85 Total Cost: $2.47 Total Savings: $17.38 Savings Percent: 87.50%

Transaction #2

  • 5 Betty Crocker Mac & Cheese – $.50 x 5 = $2.50 With coupon = FREE
  • 2 Betty Crocker Cake Mixes – $.99 x 2 = $1.98 With coupon = $.50
  • 3 Oreo Snack Saks – $.99 x 3 = $2.97 With coupon = $1.97
  • 5 Maruchan Bowls – $.99 x 5 = $4.95 With coupon = FREE
  • 5 Marie Callender Sides – $1.49 x 5 = $7.45 With coupon = FREE 

Total Retail: $19.85 Total Cost: $2.47 Total Savings: $17.38 Savings Percent: 87.50%

Transaction #3

  • 5 Betty Crocker Mac & Cheese – $.50 x 5 = $2.50 With coupon = FREE
  • 2 Betty Crocker Cake Mixes – $.99 x 2 = $1.98 With coupon = $.50
  • 3 Oreo Snack Saks – $.99 x 3 = $2.97 With coupon = $1.97
  • 5 Maruchan Bowls – $.99 x 5 = $4.95 With coupon = FREE
  • 5 Marie Callender Sides – $1.49 x 5 = $7.45 With coupon = FREE 

Total Retail: $19.85 Total Cost: $2.47 Total Savings: $17.38 Savings Percent: 87.50%

Transaction #4

  • 5 Betty Crocker Mac & Cheese – $.50 x 5 = $2.50 With coupon = FREE
  • 2 Betty Crocker Cake Mixes – $.99 x 2 = $1.98 With coupon = $.50
  • 3 Oreo Snack Saks – $.99 x 3 = $2.97 With coupon = $1.97
  • 5 Maruchan Bowls – $.99 x 5 = $4.95 With coupon = FREE
  • 5 Marie Callender Sides – $1.49 x 5 = $7.45 With coupon = FREE 

Total Retail: $19.85 Total Cost: $2.47 Total Savings: $17.38 Savings Percent: 87.50%

Transaction #5

  • 5 Betty Crocker Mac & Cheese – $.50 x 5 = $2.50 With coupon = FREE
  • 2 Betty Crocker Cake Mixes – $.99 x 2 = $1.98 With coupon = $.50
  • 3 Oreo Snack Saks – $.99 x 3 = $2.97 With coupon = $1.97
  • 5 Maruchan Bowls – $.99 x 5 = $4.95 With coupon = FREE
  • 5 Marie Callender Sides – $1.49 x 5 = $7.45 With coupon = FREE 

Total Retail: $19.85 Total Cost: $2.47 Total Savings: $17.38 Savings Percent: 87.50%

Transaction #6

  • 6 Betty Crocker Cake Mixes – $.99 x 6 = $5.94 With coupon = $1.50
  • 4 Campbell’s Crm. Of Mushroom – $.69 x 4 = $2.76 With coupon = $1.96
  • 2 French’s French Fried Onions – $2.49 x 2 = $4.98 With coupon = $2.98
  • 3 Oreo Snack Saks – $.99 x 3 = $2.97 With coupon = $1.97
  • 5 Betty Crocker Mac & Cheese – $.50 x 5 = $2.50 With coupon = FREE
  • 5 Marie Callender Sides – $1.49 x 5 = $7.45 With coupon = FREE 

Total Retail: $26.60 Total Cost: $8.41 Total Savings: $18.19 Savings Percent: 68.4%

Retail Value of All Purchases: $125.85

Total Cost of All Purchases: $20.76

Total Savings: $105.09

Savings Percent: $83.50%

But This Isn’t How REAL People Shop!

We know what you’re thinking – There’s no meat, no vegetables, no dairy in this list! And you’re right, there isn’t. This is our list of items we’re going to buy to take advantage of sale prices and coupons.

Let’s say our budget for the week is $100. We still have $80 left to use on non-sale items and those perishable items you never have a coupon for.

Not to mention the fact that we’ve now completely eliminated the need to purchase these items for another year – which means we can lower our budget to $80 a week and use that $20 for something else.

And here’s something else: Our grocery budget was almost $200 a week but because of the stockpiling we’ve been doing we’re now spending less than $120 a week! That’s $80 a week we’ve freed up to spend on other things – like paying off bills or Christmas shopping or a vacation!

Who Has Time For All Those Multiple Transactions?

Multiple transactions doesn’t necessarily mean multiple trips to the store.  In this case we did all the shopping at once.  We purchased 30 boxes of Mac & Cheese, 16 cake mixes, 30 Marie Callender side dishes, and so on, all in the same trip.  But when we placed everything on the conveyor belt at check out we broke it up into 6 different transactions.  Otherwise, we would only have been able to use a maximum of 5 of each of our coupons. And when you think about it, it doesn’t take much additional time.

You’re ringing up the same number of items and using the same number of coupons – you’re just breaking it up into separate transactions.

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Top 4 Reasons to Use a Coupon Clipping Service

How can you save money if you’re paying someone to clip coupons for you? And how hard can it be to sit down with the Sunday paper and some scissors and clip a few coupons while you’re sipping your morning coffee? Think coupon clipping services are only for the lazy or rich? Think again.

You want to save more money on products you use all the time

Laundry detergent, cosmetics, deodorant, toilet paper, toothpaste… the list goes on and on. Look around your home and you’ll see dozens of items you use on a regular basis.

But what if that toilet paper were on sale for $1 a pack? And what if you also had a coupon for $1 off that pack of toilet paper, making it free when the cashier rings it up? A sale like that only comes along once in a blue moon. If you had enough coupons you could walk out of that store with a year’s worth of free toilet paper.

Using a coupon clipping service to buy multiples of the same coupons – and only the coupons you want – allows you to take advantage of those great deals and save even more money.

You don’t want to buy extra Sunday papers just for a few coupons

Even extreme couponers don’t use every coupon in the Sunday paper, sometimes they only use one or two. If your Sunday paper costs $2 and the coupons you’re clipping only total up to $1 in savings then you haven’t really saved anything. And now you have to haul all those papers to the recycling bin.

You live in an area that doesn’t offer the coupons you’re looking for

It’s a sad fact of a couponer’s life: Manufacturers don’t distribute their coupons to all marketing areas across the nation. It costs advertising dollars to have their coupons included in the inserts so they choose their marketing areas wisely. Your family may love Chicken of the Sea tuna but if it’s not a popular item in your marketing area you may never see a coupon.

On the other hand, there might be a Chicken of the Sea coupon in every Sunday paper in another area of the country and you can get dozens from a coupon clipping service in that area.

You don’t have time to find and clip coupons

Sometimes you’ll find up to three coupon inserts in your Sunday paper, and if you buy multiple papers… well, that’s a lot of flipping and clipping. And what about the inserts your friends, family and neighbors are saving for you? And how much time do you spend dumpster-diving for inserts?

Your time is valuable. Let’s face it, if you’re spending 20 hours a week clipping and sorting coupons then you better be saving a bundle at the grocery store every week. Time equals money and any time you can cut hours out of the coupon process you’re going to be saving even more money in the long run.

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You’re Wasting Money If You’re Not Using A Coupon Clipping Service

We read dozens of other coupon blogs and they all talk about the same thing. We’re even guilty of it ourselves at The Happy Couponer Blog. “Use THIS coupon on THIS item at THIS store and you’ll save THIS much money.” Coupon Match-ups and Deals. Whooohooo! It occurred to us today that when you spend all day long focusing on one coupon it’s easy to lose sight of the big picture. And that means that maybe we’re not showing YOU the big picture.

So here’s the message we want to share with you today…

There’s no ONE coupon that’s going to cut your grocery bill in half. There’s no ONE deal that’s going to save you tons of money. You can’t coupon today and forget about it tomorrowand expect to save money. It’s an ongoing process and every single coupon is valuable from the moment it’s clipped until the day it expires.

We spent ZERO dollars on everything you see pictured above – and YOU can, too! Everything you see in the picture above was FREE – 20 boxes of Chicken Helper and 20 4.6 oz tubes of Colgate Toothpaste. The total retail price before coupons and loyalty card discounts was $68.50. Both items are on sale this week at Kroger, priced at 10 for $10, and we had a $.50 coupon for each box and tube. Our store doubles coupons up to $1 so everything you see in the picture was FREE.

Both items were on sale this week in the Get 10 for $10 deal.  EVERY STORE IN THE COUNTRY runs a 10 for $10 sale now – NOT just Kroger!

Now first let’s assume that this is enough Chicken Helper and Colgate Toothpaste to last your family for a year. You’ve just completely CUT $68.50 out of your grocery budget for the year. With just two items.

But what if this will only last your family for six months, or just four?

You keep going back to the store or you make multiple transactions until you get enough to last a full year. Neither of these products will expire so it only makes sense to get a year’s supply while you can get them both for FREE.

But here’s the secret: You have to be prepared for sales like this. We had 20 coupons for Chicken Helper. The coupons are for $.50 off 1 box and our local Kroger store doubles up to $1. If your store doesn’t double, it’s worth it to find a store that does if it means you’ll shave $68.50 off your annual grocery bill with just two products, don’t you agree? And if you can’t find one, $.50 is still a pretty darn good price.

The Chicken Helper coupons we have were included in the September 22 SmartSource and expire on 11/2/2013. Did we know on 9/22 we’d need these coupons? Nope. But we clipped them anyway and we clipped enough to enable us to buy a year’s worth of Chicken Helper if we tripped over a super-good deal. And we happen to think FREE is a pretty darn good deal!

The same goes for the Colgate Toothpaste coupon. We clipped 40 of these coupons for $1 off each tube because that’s how many 4.6 oz tubes of toothpaste we’ll need for a year. You see 20 tubes in the picture right now and we’ll be going back tomorrow for 20 more. And all 40 tubes will be FREE.

That means that with just two items we’ve completely eliminated $102.50 from our annual grocery budget. Imagine what we can do when we start multiplying that by all the products we buy on a regular basis!

What If We Just Used One or Two Coupons – Like You?

Sure, we could have taken one or two of each coupon into the store today. Or even 10 or 12. But eventually we’d run out of Chicken Helper and Colgate Toothpaste and we’d have to buy it again. Only the next time we might not get such a great deal. Seriously. How can you beat FREE?!

Now Do You See The Value Of Using A Coupon Clipping Service?

How many newspapers would you have to buy to get 40 copies of any one coupon and how much would those newspapers cost? You’d eat up all your savings just paying for papers. The total cost for the 40 coupons we used to purchase everything in the picture is just $3.20 – less than the cost of two Sunday papers! You’d still shave more than $65 off your annual grocery bill!

And you can’t just clip one – you need to clip them ALL because you never know when you’re going to trip over a money-maker deal or be able to stock up on a year’s supply of something for FREE. So where would you store all those coupons?

At The Happy Couponer Marketplace, WE do all the clipping, sorting and storing!

Here’s What You Need To Do

  • Stop focusing on that One Big Deal and start focusing on all the products you use on a regular basis. That’s where you’ll see the most savings.
  • Know the prices on all the items you regularly buy so you can recognize a good bargain.
  • Know when you’re getting a good deal and when you’re getting a deal that’s so awesome you should buy an entire year’s supply NOW. (Download our free buying guide to learn more.)
  • Learn which stores in your area accept coupons, and which stores double or even triple coupons.
  • Quit wasting money on Sunday Papers and find a reliable coupon clipping service, like The Happy Couponer.

Plan Ahead For The Future

Now that we have a year’s supply of Chicken Helper and Colgate Toothpaste on hand we can completely deduct $68.50 from our annual grocery budget and put that money to good use elsewhere. But eventually we’re going to need more, right?

Here’s the kicker… Now we have time to wait for another super-awesome deal! Another deal where we can get them FREE again! This is how those Extreme Couponers get all their groceries for FREE or next to nothing. And You Can, Too, but not by buying up every Sunday paper at the corner store.