Most of what I found was overwhelming and a bit frustrating, because it didn't seem to apply to me and my lifestyle. My time is valuable (so is yours!) and I'm just too busy for some of the stuff I read about! A lot of these women are stay-at-home moms so I'm not sure how they have time for elaborate systems either! Obviously they must be more organized and better time managers than me. Then, just when I was getting ready to give up on finding anything useful, I came across a website that made me stop in my cyber tracks. It's called Southern Savers and it's written by a lady named Jenny who really knows her stuff. She explains in an easy-to-understand way how to effectively use coupons, and she doesn't advocate complicated systems or elaborate methods. On top of that, she has links to most of the major coupon sites like RedPlum and Coupons.com, as well as current weekly sales circulars for most major grocery chains. The best part of all, though, was that Jenny isn't trying to sell me anything...she's simply trying to share what she knows with the rest of us. Amazing! At last....here was what I was looking for...a site full of common sense and practical advice! I looked at the weekly sales circulars for the stores close to my house, checked off items I was interested in and printed my shopping lists with the convenient tool built right into the list. So easy! Jenny even tells you which items have manufacturers coupons, so I was able to grab those from my coupon file and match them with my shopping lists. It only took me a few minutes and I was ready to shop.
I approached this trip to the store very differently than normal. Instead of just making a list and then shopping like usual, I focused on items we use regularly that were on sale and for which I had coupons. For the first time ever, I would build my weekly menu around what I bought instead of creating a menu and then making a list of what I needed. This fits in perfectly with the $2 Dinners savings pyramid idea of having core budget-friendly recipes that make use of what items you have on-hand. Getting those items at a discount just maximizes the savings! My extreme couponing shopping trip took me to three grocery stores and one drugstore, all within 3 miles of my house (I wouldn't have gone to so many stores if they weren't so close). A few things I bought were necessities that weren't on sale, and for which I didn't have coupons, but most of what I bought was stuff we use on a regular basis, that was on sale, and for which I had a manufacturer's coupon, a store coupon, or both. Some of what I bought is planned for meals this week (I'll be posting recipes), and some things, like the canned tomatoes (5 cans for $1!) were purchased to stock up because I use them often. Here are the stats on my extreme couponing shopping trip:
- Time spent = 2 1/2 hours
- Grocery bags unloaded = 28
- Total money spent = $97.83
- Retail value of purchase = approx. $150.00
- Money saved = approx. $52.17