We all coupon to save money. Couponing can take your savings journey to the next level, but how do you manage? Do you consider yourself “The Smart Family Shopper” or are you in it for “The Game”? Some may say a little bit of both. Many start out learning to coupon to become “The Smart Family Shopper”, but end up realizing it is a “Game”.
What Type of Couponer are YOU? The Savings & Stories Behind Couponing
The “Game” of saving money at the grocery store begins with a single piece “The Coupon” and is played on the board “The Sales flyer”. The goal of this game is to save your family money and everyone is a winner.
I have asked a few readers and Inspiring Savings contributers to describe how they accomplish their goals to of savings while avoiding going over their weekly budgets. Each saver provides information on how they save for their families.
The Strategic Shopper
Shopping for my family is my job. Budgeting is a reality that I enjoy. I am not afraid to go without, so my family can live comfortably. I wanted to be a stay at home mom and through the use of couponing, my family and I are completely debt free. I quit my full time job as an RN in March of 2013. My purpose now is to help others to meet their savings goal. I consider myself a consumer coupon expert.
Number of people you buy for: 4
Weekly budget: $50 – $60 (Includes Meat, Seafood, toiletries, household supplies)
Shopping priorities: To purchase healthy foods for my family at a reasonable price. I now can purchase more organic type foods because of couponing.
Non-compromise items: Mayonnaise. I will always by brand specific. (Hellmann’s), 100% orange juice is a must each week. My husband actually prefers Aldi’s brand over other store brands. My deodorant, Mitchum. Lastly produce, I will purchase what is on sale each week, but we always have a bounty of fresh foods in the house.
Things you try to avoid: Processed foods (except frozen pizza) and canned vegetables (we don’t like the taste). I will not purchase unless I plan to donate.
Favorite stores: I actually don’t have a preference. The store I tend to shop most will be determined by what is on sale for that week. My weekly meal plan will be based on those sales. I am not avert to shopping at two to three stores in a week, if I have the time. My goal is one store per week, but sales always suck me in. What is a girl to do?
Number 1 tip for saving: The secret to saving each week is not only shopping the sales and using coupons, but knowing your prices. A sale may not really be a sale, rather just a highlight or featured item for that week.
The Earth Friendly Saver:
Couponing really started in my family out of necessity, having only one breadwinner and twice as many mouths to feed we knew this was an area we could save in. Fast forward a year, and now there’s a full time student (me!) and still only one breadwinner, money can definitely be really tight, especially since we’re aiming to get through school without incurring any debt, and continue saving for our dream home! For me, couponing has become a game… how much can I get for $50 a week without compromising my “avoid” list? Let’s just say, we’d be eating local, organic sand if it weren’t for coupons…
Number of people you buy for: 2
Weekly budget: $50 (Includes toiletries and household supplies)
Shopping priorities: Fresh, organic, local, whole foods as my budget permits. The least wasteful packaging is a higher priority than the savings, as are recyclable packaging and multi-use items.
Non-compromise items: My husband has three non-compromise items/brands; 100% juice, Old Spice deodorant and Pert Plus Invigorating Shampoo 2-in-1. My non-compromise items are whole grain breads and fresh produce.
Things you try to avoid: Single use, disposable cleaning items, heavily processed meats and snacks, margarine, sweetened yogurts, scented feminine care products, travel size products.
Favorite stores: Price Chopper and Aldi for groceries, and CVS for a lot of my toiletries or personal care products!
Number 1 tip for saving: Never, ever shop without planning first. Set your budget, plan your trip, stick to your list and avoid any impulse purchases!
The Supplemental Couponer
In my home, I am responsible for managing our family finances and budget, as well as the grocery shopping. I recently became more focused on couponing as a way of saving our family money without having to cut out too many things from our food budget. I was surprised to find that there were so many available coupons for things that I was already buying. It has helped us to have a little extra money to take an annual family vacation. But as a “stay at home mom” that is a student and also works part time outside of the home, I don’t have much time to dedicate to couponing. That’s what I love most about Inspiring Savings and why I am so dedicated to it. So much of the couponing work is done for you, and it saves me time and money each week!
Number of people you buy for: 4
Weekly budget: $125
Shopping priorities: Buy a wide variety of healthy foods for my family while not breaking the bank. Combine coupons with deals on certain items to allow for a little extra money to be spent on our favorite items. Finding good deals for the items that we love is always a bonus!
Non-compromise items: Luna & Balance Bars, certain personal care items, Pepsi (for myself-not my kids), whole grain bread, Juicy Juice.
Things you try to avoid: Fried foods, sugar-loaded items, high-starch carbs
Favorite stores: Price Chopper, ShopRite, & Target
Number 1 tip for saving: Do your homework, plan ahead and know what you want. Always look for ways to make your grocery wants and needs work for your budget.
The Budget Meeter
I was diagnosed with breast cancer this past year and now a SURVIVOR. I have been unemployed since August and living without pay since March. I am currently living on food stamps with a monthly allowance of just $189. There is no room for error. I purchase most of my grocery expenses with coupons. I definitely shop the sales. The Capital District grocery war is my favorite kind of competition. I take advantage of the deals to the fullest.
Number of people you buy for: 1
Weekly budget: $50 week
Shopping priorities: Weirdly enough, my cats are my number one priority. They eat require special food (they are 15 years old). Since I got cancer – my food habits have changed. I eat more fruit and veggies. Of course, there are not a lot of coupons for produce, so when there are I take advantage of them. . I try to eat the cheapest that I can. It is a game to me. I try to beat it each week.I have meals that I can cook and I can eat it four times. I am single, so I can do that
Non-compromise items: Heinz Ketchup, Hellmann’s Mayonnaise. I prefer Viva paper towels, but it must be a good price and with coupons. I prefer Cottenelle, but again – good price with coupons. Let’s face it, it need to be on sale with a coupon.
Things you try to avoid: I have to avoid and it is not by choice, but by allergies any fruit that contains skin. So no apples, pears etc. I can still enjoy other fruit, like oranges. I also will not buy even if it is free Lance Bold Crackers or Starbucks Refreshers. The taste is just awful and I can’t see me donating these either.
Favorite stores: I shop at Price Chopper and ShopRite. I love Hannaford for items not on sale because a lot of their everyday items are much cheaper.
Number 1 tip for saving: Purchase those items when they are on sale and pair them with coupons.
Whoever you are; clipping, printing coupons and putting them to good use will save you tons of money on daily expenses. We all have our own styles for savings. Whether you are a “The Smart Family Shopper”, a “Game” player or a little bit of both, saving money is the end result.
How would you describe your savings strategy?