Couponing Tutorial: Knowing when enough is enough
Be sure to read the previous weeks!
Week #1- Where you can find coupons
Week #2- Shopping at CVS
Week #3- Shopping at Target
Week #4- Shopping at Walgreens
Week $5- Shopping at Rite Aid
Week #6- Stretching you money with couponing “ins and outs”
Week #7- How to get what you need for $1 or less!
Getting great deals is good but one of the biggest mistakes of new couponers is not knowing when and where to draw the line. I know that getting shampoo, conditioner, body wash, razors and toothpaste for $1 or less is exciting but having an idea of how many of each item you will actually be able to use in your home is key. Having too many will not help you, even if you paid very little for the item, if the product expires before you can use it. In our home we typically stick with 5 or less of each item, now that may not be true of some items that I know we give a lot away to family and friends, but for the most part 5 works for us. I have shown pictures of our stockpile in the past and it is not huge by any means it facilitates what our needs are and allows us to share and that is it. We don’t have a garage full of shelves, and the picture below is all we have. We don’t have anything hiding under beds or anywhere else (not that using under the bed in leu of a closet is a bad thing ).
There are a few ways that I have found work in keeping a hold of what I am purchasing.
* First of all know your homes minimum and maximum amount on each item… as you can see in my stockpile picture above I have plenty of shampoos and conditioners for each of our family members (5 for us adults and 2 for the girls since their bottle is quite a bit larger), but I have just 3 quite small body wash for me and 3 toothpaste which means I need to keep an eye out for deals on these items. (Walgreens is having a great sale on toothpaste and razors this week! So I will be heading over there Thursday)
* Secondly if you haven’t tried a specific brand or item don’t go out and get 3-10 bottles because can get them for close to free! Buy one and try it otherwise you will end up wasting time and or money on something that will just take up space.
* Also… If you intend to get items that are free to give away (something we try to do as much as possible) try to find a different area or way to store them. I have two ways I do this; one is plastic containers that we have for our Samaritans Purse Christmas Boxes and the other is a grocery bag that I fill up with the free body wash and such I am able to get in brands we don’t use for donations.
* Another mistake that many (including myself) can make in the beginning is to end up spending more because you are saving SO much. If you are just beginning you don’t need to have a full closet within a week! It takes weeks and months to get even a smaller stockpile. Begin with a budget and stick to it! We try to spend $5-$10 every two weeks for our hygiene items, which is easy now that we have acquired as much as we have. But in the beginning while you are figuring out the drug store game and stocking up a bit on both items and rewards (ECB, RR, UPR, etc) you will want to have a little more. Each week I try to break down shopping trips to each store without these rewards but if you have them your trip can be a lot better!
As you begin you will likely find that getting great deals is fun and can be sort of addicting! I know it is for me, I am eager to see just how much I am able to save our family and I know that we are not in a situation, nor will we be for quite a while, where we may run out of something we need. Which I find to be even more of a driving force of my couponing. I also know that now, after saving hundreds even thousands of dollars and knowing it is possible without spending too many hours doing so, I will NEVER go back! Our nine-year old is even learning about coupons and has a great time helping me with our shopping. It’s great to teach her how to save and gives us some time just the two of us each week!
My biggest advice is to not overwhelm yourself! Take only a few hours a week (if that) to figure out what you will be purchasing, use Love to Save and other blogs to find the best deal match-ups, And take a break every once in a while whether it be for a week or a month! Couponing is something you should enjoy doing and love the outcome don’t let it be a burden.