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Thrifty Living: Couponing 101

Many think they don’t have time to clip coupons or thrift shop—but doing so can save you tons of money. The average American family (two adults and 2 children) spends about $200 a week on groceries. That’s a lot of money, especially if you grew up in a family of seven like me. Here are a few tips that I learned from my mom to help you get started.

Schedule time.

Make an appointment with yourself to commit time each week to couponing. Like many things in life, couponing doesn’t take that long when it has your full concentration. My mom would take her weekly ads, Sunday coupons, laptop, and binder and sit at the dining room table each week sorting through her coupons. 1-2 hours per week could save you $25-$50 every week! She’d always say “Think of it as making $25-50 an hour! Sounds worth it now, right?”.

Find coupons.

Determine where your coupons can be found. My mom would get her coupons from the grocery store, newspaper, store flyers, she even used some coupon websites and a lot of her coupons these days came from her store apps. She spends a significant amount of time just scrolling through the Target, Walgreens, Schnucks, and Dierbergs app and digitally applying coupons to her account to save money for her next trip to the store. If you think about it, we already spend a lot of time on our phone scrolling through Facebook daily, I’m sure we can find time to scroll through these other apps to save some money.

Get organized.

If you’re organized, it doesn’t take much time. Pro Tip: Organize your coupon binder by perishable and nonperishable items and put all similar coupons together so that while you’re shopping or planning your list you’ll know exactly where to look for the coupon.

Understand overage.

One of the best things about couponing is overage. “Overage” happens when the worth of your coupon exceeds the cost of the product. That means you are either owed money in cash from the grocery store or you get credit towards your current bill. Sweet! But how does it work? When you combine several coupons, you maximize your savings. This can be anything from a combination of all the coupons being used: manufacturer coupon, store coupons, using coupons on a clearance item, applying your points through your app or even price match an item. Don’t be afraid to use as many coupons as you can. The worst the store can do is tell you no.

Just remember, don’t buy something just because you have a coupon for it, buy it because you need it, it pays to check all your options and stay organized. While extreme couponing is in some ways, well, extreme, even the smallest of efforts goes a long way when it comes to saving money throughout the month. Take it slow and enjoy the adventure!

Happy Couponing,
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Chelsea Springli

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