Wednesday, November 5, 2014

7 Tips for Beginning Couponing

I have people ask me from time to time how I coupon. I'm not going to go in depth on the how-to of couponing, because it's been done to death and there's nothing really new to add. Instead, I will share a few tips that I think might be often overlooked.

1. Do a little research about which stores in your area are coupon friendly. You'll want to start with a store that isn't a jerk about coupons.

In my area, I really like CVS for non-food related items. I would never buy anything at CVS when it's full price (or even on sale if I didn't have a coupon to pair with it) because their regular prices are ridiculous, but when it comes to sales and coupons it's a great place to shop! If you choose to coupon at CVS, set up a account, sign up for the beauty club, sign up for RX rewards, sign up to get coupons in the mail, sign up for minute clinic emails, and get a CVS card. They have a million ways for you to earn "Extra Care Bucks" which spend just like cash in the store and can be combined with both store and manufacturer coupons. Sometimes I almost feel bad when they pay me for taking merchandise out of their store. Almost.

For grocery items, I like Kroger. The coupon policy isn't as great as CVS, but it's still pretty good. If you shop at Kroger, sign up for a account and make sure your kroger plus card is handy. You also earn a .10/gallon gas discount for every $100 you spend. My one issue with Kroger is that they don't stock sale items as heavily as they should. Often they have "Mega Sales" where you can get extra savings if you buy X number of participating items. These sales are a couponer's happy place...or a couponer's sad place if they're out of stock on something that you need to count toward a "participating item". If you ever see me weeping in the aisles of Kroger, this is what has happened.

2. Once you find the store you want to start with, find a good website that breaks down the weekly ad and matches available coupons to sale items. I like and Both of those also have Facebook groups which are incredibly helpful. Do not waste your time going through the sale ads and trying to find coupons to match. Not all sale items are advertised and there are so many internet resources that have already done that work for you.

3. You don't have to be extreme to get a good deal. If you don't have the space or inclination to stockpile 2000 packages of toilet paper, don't. Personally, I buy two Sunday newspapers per week. That gives me two copies of every coupon and that's enough for my family of 3. The key is to get enough stuff so that you never have to buy something at full price, but not so much stuff that items expire before you can use them. If you see an item that says, "Sale 10/$10!", you do not have to buy 10 of that item. It's $1 each (at least at most stores).

4. Dust off your printer. I use more coupons that I've printed from the internet than newspaper coupons. The store specific couponing websites that I mentioned above will tell you whether a coupon needs to be printed from the internet or if it's available in a newspaper. You can print most coupons twice per computer.

5. Load your store loyalty card with coupons. Just be aware that if you have a coupon loaded to your card, it takes precedence over a paper coupon. You cannot use both, so know which value is higher and remove the coupon from your card before your shopping trip if it's not the better coupon.

6. Follow couponers on instagram. Search #couponcommunity #extremecouponing #kroger #cvs, etc. If you want to know some of the folks I follow, ask me. Instagram is a great way to keep up with crazy good clearance sales.

7. Use grocery rebate apps. There are tons of apps out there and they can generally be used in addition to coupons (check your app for details). These are some great apps that I use regularly. (When you sign up by clicking my referral links, I may or may not get extra rebates.) I think everyone should be using these, even if you don't plan to do any hardcore couponing. It's just an easy way to save on stuff you're buying anyway.

Ibotta- Referral code b6kbyq
SavingStar - You're not supposed to use coupons in conjunction with this one and it takes awhile for your rebate to show up.

Finally, don't show up in the grocery store expecting to walk out with carts full of stuff for free like you've probably seen on TV. A few items per trip for free is doable, but in the real world, your cart is going to contain perishables that we just don't see many high value coupons for. That's ok! Any amount you save is better than paying full price. Just build your small stockpile of non-perishables and go from there.

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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Toilet Training Transition

It has been forever since I last posted! I figured that our diapering routine has evolved some through this blogging hiatus, so I'll update a little.

1. We had a little trouble with our Flo diaper sprayer (twice, actually). The second time it malfunctioned, it was totally broken and I didn't want to buy a new sprayer this late in the diapering game. So on one hand, I am not pleased that our sprayer broke twice over the course of a year and 1/2. On the other hand, I contacted the company and asked if I could buy a replacement part for the little piece that broke and they sent me the replacement part for free! My verdict on the Flo sprayer is that the quality of mine was iffy, but the customer service was good.

2. I still totally love prefolds and Thirsties covers, but just in the past couple of months I've noticed that we're starting to get some wear right under the rise snaps on the covers. It's not severe enough that the covers are leaking, but I'm guessing I should have unsnapped the rise way before I did. Maybe I could have prevented it. The size 2 covers are also starting to get a little snug around the waist for my 30+ pounder.

3. Speaking of covers, our Grovia aplix covers are now retired after our nanny made the mistake of putting The Fish down for a nap in only a T-shirt and his diaper with the aplix cover. His island/beachy/ship crib sheet will never be the same. As I was spraying it off with the diaper sprayer, I kept questioning, "Is that a coconut? Nope. Not a coconut."

4. We are now in week 3 of potty training. I hear other CD people talk about how it's so bittersweet to retire the cute little diapers. No. It's not bitter, it's just sweet. I'm sad that he's growing up so quickly, but I'm totally fine with him using the potty. I was able to get him started while I was off work for two weeks and he has done so well and is so proud of himself. I'm now only using diapers during nap/bedtime, so that's throwing off my diaper washing routine, but I'm just adjusting the amount of detergent I use and am adding extra things in the diaper laundry like his undies, the towels we place in front of his little potty, etc. So far so good! I will do a thorough strip of the diapers before I store them away, but for now this routine is just fine.

Two years of cloth diapering are in the books and even though I'm the sole poop sprayer of the house and it's an extra load of laundry here and there, I'm so happy that we went this route.

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