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If one of your resolutions is to save money for the coming year, look to your grocery bill.  Your grocery bill is the fastest and easiest place to save money.  How?  Simple, start using coupons and only buying things when they are on sale.  By following the advice on this site and others I have listed you will start to see savings in the neighborhood of 50-80%.  Even if you save 10-20%, it is still more money in your pocket than before.

Using coupons is not difficult, but takes patience to get started.  As we get into the new year, I will post deals, savings and other great ways to save your family money.  I routinely save over 50% on my grocery bill and often go weeks without grocery shopping because of all the great deals I have found.  I recently added a LARGE pantry to my kitchen to house all the great deals I have found (see previous post).  Below is a great thing to know, the coupon insert schedule for the year.  I read this on IHEARTSAVINGMONEY.com and thought it you might find it useful (to prevent buying extra papers on the weekends without inserts!).

January
1/3: 2 Smart Source & 2 Red Plum & General Mill
1/10: Smart Source & Red Plum
1/17: Smart Source & Red Plum & Proctor & Gamble
1/24: Smart Source & Red Plum
1/31: Smart Source & Red Plum

February
2/7: Smart Source
2/14: No Inserts
2/21: Smart Source & General Mills & Procter and Gamble
2/28: Smart Source & Red Plum

March
3/7: Smart Source, Red Plum & Procter and Gamble
3/14: Smart Source& Red Plum
3/21: Smart Source& Red Plum
3/28:2 Smart Source & Red Plum & Procter and Gamble

April
4/4: No Inserts
4/11: Smart Source & Red Plum
4/18: Smart Source & Red Plum
4/25: Smart Source & Red Plum

May
5/2: Smart Source & Red Plum & P&G
5/9: Smart Source & Red Plum
5/16: 2 Smart Source & Red Plum
5/23: Smart Source & Red Plum
5/30: No Inserts

June
6/6: Smart Source & Red Plum & Procter and Gamble
6/13: Smart Source
6/20: Smart Source & Red Plum
6/27: Smart Source & Red Plum

July
7/4: No Inserts
7/11: Smart Source & Red Plum
7/18: Smart Source
7/25: Smart Source & Red Plum

August
8/1: Smart Source & Red Plum & Procter and Gamble
8/8: Smart Source & Red Plum
8/15: Smart Source & Red Plum
8/22: Smart Source & Red Plum
8/29: Smart Source & Red Plum & P&G Insert

September
9/5: No Inserts
9/12: Smart Source & 2 Red Plum
9/19: Smart Source & Red Plum
9/26: Smart Source & Red Plum

October
10/3: Smart Source & Red Plum & Procter and Gamble
10/10: Smart Source & Red Plum
10/17: Smart Source & Red Plum
10/24: Smart Source & Red Plum
10/31: Smart Source & Red Plum

November
11/7: Smart Source & Red Plum & Procter and Gamble
11/14: Smart Source & Red Plum
11/21: Smart Source & Red Plum
11/28: No Inserts

December
12/5: Smart Source & Red Plum & Procter and Gamble
12/12: Smart Source & Red Plum
12/19: No Inserts
12/26: No Inserts

So I thought I might talk about some basics, since more and more of you are getting involved.

1. Don’t bend the rules.  Be VERY vigilant about the coupon rules and products.  The cashiers and managers will give you TONS more respect and will even go the extra mile.  Plus, it only takes a few to ruin it for everyone.  Coupon Pantry 2

2.  If you are only saving 10, 20 or 30% at first – BE HAPPY!  You should pat yourself on the back and be happy with your savings.  The savings you see on this site or other coupon sites can be misleading.  First, we have couponing for a while and have LARGE stockpiles.  I only buy what I think are great deals each week.  Other than staples like milk, juice and fruit, I could probably go for months without going grocery shopping.  Just to show you…look at the picture of my pantry (and that is just dry groceries – I have other stashes)

3. Pick your cashiers and stores wisely.  Not all stores and cashiers are coupon friendly (just yesterday I was harrassed by a cashier for using a coupon).

4. DONATE DONATE DONATE.  I buy stuff all the time that I can donate.  Even if it is not something I would normally use.  By watching the ads and clipping coupons, you can often get things for free that others would gladly accept.  I love that I can help out by donating food, glucose monitoring kits, personal hygene products and expired coupons (military bases accept up to 4 months after expiration date).  So when you are buying, think of who else may be able to benefit from the deals you are reading about.

5. Have fun!  I do this to save money, but most of all i REALLY enjoy it.  It would not be as much fun if I was not sharing my successes with my friends and giving things away!

I hope everyone is enjoying all the coupon tips, post a comment to let us know the savings you are enjoying using coupons!

Today I want to talk about two different stores (good places to get started couponing) and some successful strategies to shop each one.

1. CVS – This by far is one of the easiest stores to shop.  Before couponing I haECBrdly ever visited a CVS, unless I needed a prescription.  Boy, I had no idea what I was missing.  CVS has a reward program they call Extra Care Bucks (ECBs).  To participate you have to ask for a Reward Card in the store or sign-up online.

The way you work CVS is to cash in on the ECB deals they have each week and then start “rolling” your ECBs.  Rolling is taking ECBs from one week to use in purchases for the next week.  To keep rolling, you must purchase items that will give you ECBs.  Sometimes finding items with ECBs can be difficult since sales vary from week to week, but you can always skip a week (so long as your ECBs are not expiring).

CVS will run ECB deals on select items so when you buy it, you get the full price of the product back in ECBs – meaning free products.  Then you use a coupon on top of the ECB’s you get back and you can “make money” on the purchase.  How that works:  You buy product A for $6.99, use a $1.50/1 Q coupon, thus paying $5.49 (+tax) oop and you will get a $6.99 ECB on your receipt.  This is one of the biggest reasons why CVS is so much fun.

2. Publix – Publix is by far my favorite grocery store.  Yes, their prices are higher than other local stores, but with their sales and coupon policy, you can really get some great deals, even some free stuff.  Publix’s coupon policy allows customers to use 1 manufacturer’s coupon and one store coupon per item.  So, if you have Product A for $2.99 and a manufacturer’s coupon for $1/1 and a store coupon for $1/1, you get Product A for $0.99.  Cool right!  Also, the same rule applies to BOGO (buy one, get one) items.  When you get two items for a BOGO sale, you can use a coupon for each product.  I used to think because the product was free, that I could not use a coupon.  That was WRONG!  Publix does allow you to use the free item towards the coupon item count.  This is almost like double coupons (but only on the BOGO items).  Florida stores do not double coupons  – yes it is sad, but we have our advantages.  Also, Publix has a Upromise program, where you can add money to a college savings accont for your child (or a family member).

Publix also accepts competitor coupons.  Each Publix can determine what they deem their competitor.  So be sure to call customer service at your Publix to determine what competitor coupons you can use.

Getting started with coupons does not have to be complicated.  I know it may seem confusing or complicated with stacking coupons, BOGO coupons and the many other combinations that allows us to get free or REALLY cheap products, but it does not have to be.

5 Steps to Getting Started

1. Start saving the Sunday inserts and buy multiple copies of the paper to get more coupons.  By having more than one coupon for a product, you can take advantage of many BOGO deals.  Having multiple coupons also allows you to stock up when the items are at the lowest price point, saving money.  Most items go on sale every 6-12 weeks, some more frequently, some less frequently.  Buy enough to get you through 2 months to start.

2. Plan ahead.  Browse this site and others to check out the match-ups.  Pull/clip your coupons in advance and work from a list.  It will make life MUCH easier once you are in the store.

3. Start off small.  At first it is overwhelming to try and get all the deals.  This will take time and experience.  You will learn what cashiers are better with coupons, what stores are easier to work with and how you handle handing over coupons to the cashiers.  I would NOT recommed just handing them a big stack, you will almost always lose out on some coupons (they get stuck together, machine doesn’t ring it, etc).

4. Start saving what you can.  When I first started, I was happy to save 20-30% (or anything for that matter).  Yes, you see our site and others routinely saving upwards of 70%, but also remember we have been doing this for a while.  We have LARGE stockpiles to work from at home and often do not need to buy groceries, we only buy what is on sale that we need to stock up on.

5. Have Fun.  The thing I enjoy most about couponing is that it is a hobby for me.  Yes it started as a way to save money on groceries, but soon my competitive spirt took over and now I enjoy the “hunt.”  I love being able to bring you items that you can get for free or really cheap!

If you have questions, send me an email southfloridasavings @ gmail .com (remove the spaces).