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Please don't remind me that I'm poor; I'm having too much fun pretending I'm simply "living green" like everyone else these days.


Saturday, October 25, 2008

I am neither a home economist nor a nutritionist nor a financial wizard. There is nothing magical about what I do to save money. I wasn't born knowing how to save money. It was simply something I was taught and I was willing to learn. Anyone who has to live on a tight budget can do what I do. All you need do is keep an open mind and be very observant to learning newer ways to save a penny here and a penny there. Pennies add up to dollars.

By far, the easiest place to save money is with groceries. Now I'm not going to sit here type-talking to tell you that it will make you rich; but, it will certainly stretch the budget by a few pennies up to a few dollars each trip.

Someone once told me that in order to be wealthy I either had to earn more or spend less. Well, I've done both and I'm still not wealthy; although, I can see the logic.

In the old days, grocery stores wanted you as their customer so much that they would give you bonus stamps. The bonus stamps were put into little stamp books. The stamp books were exchanged for things from the stamp stores. Stamp stores were like department stores that used only stamps as money. You used the stamp books to get toys, household items, transportation tickets, and lots of other things. Oh how I wish they would bring back the bonus stamps!!!

So ok, enough of memory lane, back to the coupons.

Coupons are good. Coupons are like someone handing you a handfull of coins to spend. If you are very observant you will find ways to save money by looking through the ads and comparing it to your coupon stash. Like this ad for Pert shampoo this week. The ad even tells you that there is a coupon out there somewhere that you can use too.

And this ad tells you that they will give you a free toothpaste. Free is very good!

Yes, it's true that Pert or Crest may not be my favorite brands.... but brand loyalty is not an option when I need to stretch the budget. Pert and Crest do a good job of cleaning my hair and teeth just like my favorite brands. Why pay $6.38 for only two items when I can get both for only $.99 cents? I don't know about you but I think I would rather use the $5.39 difference for edible items on my list. By reading the fine print of this ad, I saw that I could buy 5 of each of these. This means I can get 5 toothpastes and 5 shampoos for a total of 4.95 before tax. That would be a year supply or more for me. A savings of $26.95 .... not a bad bargain.
So each Sunday I will sit down with the sale papers and the list of groceries I need to replenish and my coupons. I become very observant of the ads while looking for bargains. I will even read the fine print of ads. Sometimes I find really good information in the fine print. That's how I found out I could get 5 of the toothpastes and shampoos.

Before I actually start my grocery planning from the ads, I clip out and file my coupons. My sister in law also uses coupons but she does her's differently. She will go through the grocery ads, pick out the coupons from that day's inserts she plans to use this week, then throw the rest away. She's loosing money but I can't get her to change her habits.
I'm just the opposite. I keep every coupon.... for any item I might use if it was free..... until it expires before I will thow it away. I would hate to throw away a coupon for something then next week see it as a free item when the coupon is used.
One time a friend that refused to use coupons pointed out that coupons are not good bargains. Coupons are only offered for items that the manufacturer can't sell without coupons. She was only partly right.
Coupons are non-existant for actual good nutritional foods. Coupons are not offered for things like fresh vegetables or fruits or meats. Coupons are for non-edible or convenience foods. Things you might not other wise buy if it were not for the coupons. The manufacturers know you will feed yourself first and buy other items only when necessary. They are competing for your grocery money.
I use my coupons to buy my non-edible items as cheaply as possible so that I keep the maximum amount of my budget for food. My non-edible items are necessary but not nearly as important as my food. If I can manage to get all the non-edible items for free that's a bonus!
So here are my coupons all clipped out and ready to file.

I have this sorter that came in the coupon mom packet I got a few weeks ago. It's the only part of the packet I still use. I found the small coupon file just wasn't large enough for me. I save too many coupons for its size.

Here are my coupons all sorted using the sorter.

The catagories match the catagories of my binder.

My binder is simply a school binder I got from the discount table after school started and some baseball card holder plastic sheets. I actually got the idea for the binder from youtube. I don't remember who showed it though.

Clipping, sorting, filing coupons, then reading each ad to find the bargains is not a fast thing. A person can't be fast and observant at the same time. I tend to think of it as a part time job. I base my earnings on how much I am able to save for what work I've put into it. A few minutes will save a few pennies. A couple of hours will save dollars.

There are two ways I could handle the bargain I found on the shampoo and toothpaste. I could pass on getting these in the hope that my favorite brands might have the same deal. Or I could go ahead and get what is right before me and not have to buy any shampoo or toothpaste for a year. I will get it now.... while it's available. And I will get the maximum allowed. Because.... Might may never come true.

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