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Posted by deb_pa (My Page) on
Tue, May 17, 11 at 14:26

OK, hubby and I are newly retired as of 5 months ago. I've done spring cleaning, cleaned closets, painted entire house, done the yardwork and read about about 10 or 12 novels, now I want to try couponing. I researched on the web and joined the top 3 sites but none have an answer to my question. Every couponer says, "only use coupons on items that go on sale to get the most for your money". Every coupon I get expires within 4 to 6 weeks and rarely falls on a time when the item is on sale at our local stores. Even the sites that ask for zip codes to check the local sale papers don't have coupons for the sale items. How do couponers always have coupons for "on sale" items? Please, someone must know this answer.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: couponing

I've found that if you hold the coupon until close to the time it expires, you will often be able to find the item on sale. You may only get a day or two to purchase before the coupon is expired.

RE: couponing

I use coupons from time to time and they never check the experation date.....I've used them expired more than once!

RE: couponing

I don't have a single store in my area that accepts expired coupons. They don't accept coupons printed off the internet either.

RE: couponing

1. Always check the store-of-choice for their coupon policy. Some won't take out-of-date coupons, some will. Some stores will take competitors' coupons. Double or triple coupons - at what amount. If they are out of the item you want, get a rain check. Be sure to check your coupons before the 15th of the month - some of them are out-of-date mid-month, not the last of the month.

2. Track price cycles. Many items go on sale at regular intervals and try to align your coupons to go along with those sales. For instance, condiments (ketchup, mustard, mayo, relish, etc.) are on sale just before grilling holidays (Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day) - that's when you need to stock-up on those items. Before school starts specials - Kleenex/Puffs, peanut butter, etc. Pre-Thanksgiving/Christmas - baking items.

I get our Dillons store weekly flyer on-line and I can download coupons to my Shopper's Card, plus they send me coupons. These also tend to be foods I regularly purchase. I quit taking the local newspaper (Sunday ONLY when the ads and flyers come out) because the amount of savings from the coupons I was clipping wasn't enough to pay for the newspaper.

3. I keep a Price Book which includes prices for items at the stores I normally shop so I'll know if something is actually at the best price. Butter at Aldi is always less expensive than Kroger brand on sale, or name brand with a coupon. But if you don't know what those prices are, you'll waste money.

I also keep my inventory of food in storage in my Price Book. When I add something to storage I'll mark it with a slash - /. And when I take something out of storage I'll finish the slash - X. If I need to track the use-by dates (peanut butter, for example), I'll mark the item going into storage with the use-by date - 1/12. When I take it out of storage I'll "X" it out. Wasted food is the most expensive food we purchase, so an inventory is important for tracking what you have and what you need.

4. Be sure to stack savings. You can sometimes use a store coupon as well as one from a manufacturer on the same item, and if you are really good, you can sometimes find a rebate. And take advantage of it all when the item is a loss leader or on sale. I keep all my coupons in my Price Book and take them to the store with me because not all sale items are advertised. I've found food items in the clearance area that I've had a coupon for.

5. Unless the coupon stipulates that you can't use a coupon on a trial size of an item, you can often get items free by doing this.

6. Do your math... Know which size will be the best buy based on unit price. Sometimes it's the smallest size, not the biggest that's the best bargain.

The first and best way to save on your food is to set a budgeted amount of money for purchases and stick to it. My food budget is for food only - I have another amount for non-food items.

It's unusual for me to purchase anything at full price. Because I have home food storage and I "shop" at home for menu planning by rotating food in and out of storage, I can wait until I find the item on sale before adding it to storage. Some things I may only purchase once a year, at stock-up prices, but will buy enough to last a year.

I actually don't use very many coupons because I don't purchase convenience foods and highly processed foods, which seems to be the bulk of what coupons are for. On my stringent food budget ($125/month for two adults) I keep to whole foods and nutrient-dense foods and make my own "convenience" foods from pantry ingredients. I mill my own flour from whole grains/seeds/beans so I keep those in storage, and make all our breads and baked goods. I make our cereals for pennies. Even with a coupon commercial cereal products are a huge rip-off.

About 75-80% of my food purchases goes into storage and I have 6-12-months worth of pantry foods (things I use for everyday food preparation) and 3-years worth of the "Seven Survival Foods" in storage (grains, legumes, seeds for sprouting, salt, fat -coconut oil for me-, sweetener/s and powdered milk).

Meat purchases are kept to $2/pound or less, OR no more than $10 total per week for meat. And be sure to check those unit prices on cans of tuna that we all think is such a bargain. If you buy a can of tuna for $1.29 - that's costing you $4.13 per pound. You'd just as well buy steak.

I have also eliminated many store-purchased items. I use tomato powder and pantry ingredients, instead of buying tomato sauce, tomato paste, tomato juice, pizza sauce, spaghetti sauce. I make all those tomato-based foods with tomato powder. Add to that dehydrated and frozen home-grown tomatoes, and that's about all the tomato products I need to have on hand. I use powdered milk products I order on-line by-the-bucket - which costs much less than buying milk in the store. I buy grains/seeds/beans in bulk amounts - all from my $125/month food budget.

So if your goal is to not spend any more money than is necessary for your food and non-food store-purchased items, your approach to couponing may be somewhat different than becoming the "Coupon Queen", but the same "rules" for getting the most from coupons still applies.


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