Trying to plan a budget wedding involves saving, not going into debt, and trying your hardest to not pay retail. But why let those efforts stop at just the wedding? In order to save money for the wedding, it may be necessary to cut in other parts of your life. Enter couponing!
You might be thinking: “How do I start couponing?”, “How can couponing make a big enough dent to help save for a wedding?”, or “Isn’t that so much work?”
And to those question, I would say: I’ll tell you, you’ll find out, and yes – but it’s worth it. In this post I’ll share my simple steps for couponing, which resources I use, and what you need to know before spending another penny on groceries, crafts, home goods, and more!
amy, dear‘s keys to successful couponing (note: the info below is based on my couponing experience in Portland, OR – these keys may not fully apply to where you live):
- Visit couponing blogs (see my list below) and sign up to get their posts emailed to you daily. Don’t let these emails pile up – I suggest reading them daily. Often the super great deals don’t last for long, so stay on top of the blogs.
- Sign up for savings cards at your favorite grocery stores and load digital coupons to them. Sometimes these will stack on top of printed coupons, sometimes they are manufacturer’s coupons themselves, so won’t let you – either way, it’s savings! For some stores, like Walgreens, they print store coupon booklets each month that you can find with their weekly ad near the front doors. Other stores, like Safeway and Albertson’s, will print coupons in their weekly ad and even come with bonuses like Safeway’s “Doubl’r” coupon that doubles the amount of four manufacturer coupons up to $.50 each.
- Buy the Sunday paper each week – even though it’s $2 or more. Not only do you get to read the color funnies and test your skills on the crossword, you also almost always get 1-3 coupon inserts (4 on a great week!) that you can clip great deals from. The blogs I follow regularly preview each Sunday’s coupons, so you know what to expect (maybe you buy more than one paper?) and when to expect nothing (a few weeks out of the year there are no inserts).
- Organize your coupons somehow. If you go crazy or have a family with kids, you can easily need a box or large 3-ring binder to coupon in (two FSILs qualify for this category). I get by with a cute, small accordion file (like this utilitarian one for only $5.96 or this designer one for $11 on Amazon!) I can throw in my purse so it’s always with me. I am getting to the verge of it being too small though (see picture above for proof), so I may upgrade so I don’t lose any coupons along the way. I organize alphabetically, but you could organize by product category.
- Finally, I write companies and compliment their products. Every six months they can send you coupons, and when you compliment them, they’re more likely to send you something good. I have an Excel file I’ve built that I keep track of the company, a link to their comments page, when I contact them, and if/when/what they send me in return. Companies know this happens and want to send you these because you’re more likely to continue to use their product. Then you use step 6 to continue shopping at grocery stores with those coupons. Win-win-win.
- When I have all my coupons gathered, clipped, and organized, I go to my coupon blogs and store weekly ads and start matching up deals and making my grocery list. This goes for when I need to get groceries for home or I’m shooting for a free haul. Unless something comes up, I always go to the store with a list as well as the corresponding coupons. This enables me to get the best savings possible each time.
Before I wrap up, I want to note that coupons are quite literally cash. They make look different, but they act the exact same at the register. So however you store and use your coupons, make sure they’re kept safe. I would be devastated if something happened to my coupon book because it represents money, my time, but most of all security for our finances. To be serious about saving, you have to pay attention to what happens to your “cash.”
I hope you’re thinking, “I can do that! How do I get started?” See below for links to my favorite blogs and coupon sites. Even if you’re not totally on board though, it’s okay. It took me roughly four years of using and not using coupons to get to where I am now. And it took me this long to figure the whole game out. I’m helping quite a bit by organizing it all here for you, so it’s okay if you take it slow – the post will always be here when you need it. Just wait until you get a high savings percentage and you’ll be hooked – just like me. It takes work, but the pay off is way more than worth it. And the thrill it gives you is really uplifting!
Now, for the resources:
- Coupons.com – Usually around 250 coupons available at any one time
- Save.com – Not as many as coupons.com, but some unique to this site; also allows you to upload as digital coupons to savings cards (used to be Red Plum)
- Smartsource.com – Also not as many coupons, but a lot unique to this site
- Commonkindness.com – Specializes in organic/natural/alternative brands, with some mainstream brands sprinkled through
- Any company’s website usually has a coupons/promotions area you can print coupons from
- Krazycouponlady.com – I love the store matchup deals they feature on this site (in the Find My Store section) as well as the comprehensive printable coupon list that helps you find lesser-known coupons
- Dealseekingmom.com – The coupon database on this site is really what gets me. You can search for any keyword, filter by eight different options, and it combines printable, digital, newspaper coupons, and more!
So what do you think? Does this sound reasonable? Are you way ahead of me and have some great tips of your own? Share below!