I have talked about coupons in previous posts, but I have never really delved into them. I have used coupons for so long that they are like second nature to me. I sometimes just assume that everyone should know how to use them. I know that old saying that you shouldn’t assume, but I just think that everyone should know how to be a thrifty shopper. While shopping, I am usually focused on what I am doing that I never pay attention to other shoppers and how they shop. I am here now to say how I shop and I hope that my advice will be of help to others.
I shop at two different stores each week, Aldi and Giant Eagle. I love Aldi for my basic items that I can’t get cheap enough with coupons. My family and I eat as healthy as we can and you can’t beat the price of Aldi’s produce and some of their lowfat products. I have to say that 99% of the time, I get the bulk of our groceries from Aldi. The rest of our groceries come from Giant Eagle. There are somethings that Aldi doesn’t carry, so I will get them at Giant Eagle with double coupons. There are occasions that I will stop at other stores if there is an unbeatable sale, but the majority of the time is at these two stores.
Remember when I bought the Era detergent? I got all of that for a steal compared to the regular price. The average price for Era is $5.00 for 50 ounces. When the coupon came out that same week for $2 off when you buy two, I knew I had to get some. That sale was B1G1F and I had a $2 off coupon when you buy 2, that meant that for $3 I could get two bottles of detergent. That was the time to use that coupon. If I had taken that coupon to another store, I would have paid more for the same detergent.
I used to be really into coupons so my coupons were held in a huge box. That was before I changed our eating habits. I would buy things that would be cheap with a coupon, but were not really good for us. Now I have a little binder and only keep coupons for the things that we will use, like the detergent.
This little binder is perfect for me because I can put coupons in the little pocket that I will use at the store so that when I get to the checkout, I know where they are at. Because I have so few coupons compared to what I used to have, I keep them in ziploc bags, one is non food and the other is food. I also keep one for “my favorites” that I would like to use before they expire.
Coupons will only save you money if you were going to buy that product anyway. I like a cetain brand of crackers but they are expensive. When I see a coupon on their website, I usually print it and use it at the store. A few months ago, Aldi had their version of this cracker cheaper than the store even with a coupon deducted. This is where the coupon really didn’t save me any money and Aldi’s version tasted just as good! It was a $2 savings on one package! Needless to say, I bought several.
It can be to your benefit to send for free samples because you might receive coupons with them. I drink decaf tea, so when I saw a free sample for Lipton Tea, I sent for it. When it came in the mail the other day, there were three tea bags and a coupon for my future purchase. It is very rare that I find decaf tea in Aldi or any discount store, so I was happy to get that coupon. I can take it to Giant Eagle and double it to get my tea. This is a good time to use a coupon.
In the picture is the tea coupon and there are also coupons that I sent for because I knew that I would use them. The coupons on the right came in a booklet that I sent for because I knew that we would be needing shampoo, hairspray, etc. I always use coupons on toiletries since they are so expensive. I just wait for them to go on sale and use the coupon at the same time for maximum savings. That is the best time to use your coupons.
Like I have said before, I haven’t used that many coupons anymore due to eating healthier, but the majority of the ones I use are on toiletries and detergent. This is where you will save the most, unless you make your own products. That would be even cheaper yet! Don’t forget to see if buying something in bulk is cheaper than using a coupon. Sometimes oatmeal is cheaper in bulk, but not always. In my area years ago, I was getting oatmeal for free with coupons. When that was gone I had to buy some. I went to the bulk food store here and they were actually more per pound than if I bought it at Aldi. It is good to know your prices, so you will know when to use a coupon or not or even know where to buy it.
Don’t forget, the main thing is to keep your money in your pocket as long as you can. Who wants to throw away hard earned money? Try to remember that store brands are sometimes cheaper than using a coupon, but not always. Try doing the mental math in your head while shopping and hopefully that will help with reducing your grocery bill. Just because you have that coupon doesn’t mean that you have to use it!