I am always on the look out as another way to save, stretch and pinch our money. Rene and I were both raised in families that taught and lived frugal living. And so from the start of our relationship, being debt free and living within our means has been a top priority. The knowledge and skills relating to finances have helped reduce the stress when our money it tight.
I like to go to community ed. classes on finances and one I went to a while ago taught how to combine the savings from grocery sales and using coupons. The teacher had quite the system. And I was impressed. Our teacher spent hours and hours planning, plotting and organizing to get fabulous deals locally and online. Our teacher used www.pinchingyourpennies.com religiously to help her out.
I have to admit, I felt a bit overwhelmed with it all. It was similiar to the Extreme Couponing show which just blows my mind. I don't have (or want) to spend hours to find the best deals. But I can do what works for our family.
Our family plan involves using only a few parts of the website and I combine that with coupons. I do receive 3 Sunday newspapers to get 3x the Sunday inserts. I then file the coupon inserts by date. So all of today's coupons will go in a file, last Sunday's are in a file, etc. I don't cut out individual coupons.
After I make up my grocery list, I go to the coupon list from Pinching Your Pennies. They have lists of all the coupons available from the Sunday inserts. And they are in alphabetical order by product/brand name. So if I need toothpaste and I see that AquaFresh is on sale at my local store, I look at the coupon list and see: Aquafresh iso-active Foaming Gel, any $1/1 (6-26-11) RP-5/15
This tells me that there is a $1 coupon for 1 Aquafresh iso-active Foaming Gel. The date in paranthesis is the experation date and RP 5/15 tells me that it is from the Red Plum coupon insert from May 15th. Then, I go to my file for May 15th, pull out the Red Plum inserts and cut out the coupon I need for AquaFresh.
I then purchase the as many products at the sale price as I have couopns for. Then, I have extras on hand and won't need to buy more toothpaste until I can get another great buy. (Great sale prices usually come every 3 months for grocery items.)
I have a pretty good idea of the items we buy if the store is offering a good sale or not. I have an informal price book and hope this summer to organize and formalize it. But if I am not sure if the sale is a good deal, I use the GrocerySmarts link This portion lists the major grocery store weekly advertisement sales-- with the prices rates 1-5 stars (5 Stars being the best of best prices). It also lists if there are coupons available--in print and online. The idea being, again, stocking up with items at their lowest prices.
I usually have my grocery list, coupons cut and organized within an hour's time. With the website's help, I am able to keep our grocery budget to about $200/month. I set aside $50/month for case lot sales that our grocery stores have in the fall, about $30/month for the Community Co-Op food and then the rest of about $120/month goes for groceries, hygeine, paper and drug store purchases. Not bad for our family of three!
Great links within www.pinchingyourpennies.com: