Mar 012015
 

One of the concerns about utilizing coupons is the amount of time it takes.  Yes, it takes time.  But, it also takes time to shop, and it takes even more time at a job to earn the money that you could be saving by using coupons!  When you consider how much money you’re saving based on the time you invest, you’ll notice it’s much more profitable to clip than not!

When you purchase items for very inexpensively, or even free, if you don’t need it, the only consideration you need to make is where you’re going to donate the items!  There is absolutely no reason not to buy things, if you can afford the small amount you will be paying.  There are organizations throughout our community that would be grateful for donations.  So, rather than looking at coupon to see if it holds value for your or your immediate family, let’s begin looking at coupons to see how we may help others!

As an example, Ken’s salad dressing was on sale for $1.99.  With $1 coupons found in our local Pantagraph, the cost was only 99¢.  If you aren’t particularly fond of salad dressing, or you have enough at home to carry you through the next sales cycle, this is a purchase to make!  By tossing in a few bags of ready made salad, for under $5, you can gift a nice side dish to a struggling friend or family member, or donate the salad and dressing to a soup kitchen!

I’m often asked how to get extra inserts in order to reap the benefits of multiple coupons.  The Sunday newspaper is the most popular paper of the week, due largely to the valuable advertising inserts and, of course, the coupons! Because of its appeal, it’s imperative that you subscribe to home delivery! You may get multiple Sunday papers, delivered to your home, and this alleviates having to shop elsewhere, and will prevent any disappointment when the papers are already sold out! (Ask me if I have any specials I can offer… often, the Pantagraph gives me great deals to share!)

The more coupons we use to help others, and the more our mission of using coupons and encouraging hope is discussed, the more impact we may have in our own community!  I’d love to hear how you’ve helped others!

Feb 222015
 

One of the topics of interest that often comes up in conversation, as well as emails, facebook posts, and blogs all over the country has been the show Extreme Couponing.

I watched one of the pilot shows, and I yelled at the television the entire time.  I’ve opted against watching the new season because the show portrays extreme couponing as an addiction, a type of hoarding, and it truly make individuals (and often stores!) look at those of us that use coupons in a negative light.  I’m also bothered by the huge amounts of items purchased with no mention of donations.  I’m certain that everyone on the show donates (I hope!), but it is television, and those moments aren’t captured.

As I was working on this post, I received an email from Linda, a long time subscriber, and wonderful friend, and she said “I am watching the coupon show on TLC.  I consider them hoarders, not sharers.  How sad.  I’m so glad I was taught to coupon with a heart!  Thank you for that.” Yes, I almost cried.  It shows our mission of using coupons and encouraging hope is solid, never wavering, and our unique vision is being embraced!

If you have your own questions, or want to share your thoughts on Extreme Couponing, or on how using coupons has transformed your life for your family or others, I’d love to hear from you at Kimberly@encouragehope.org.

 

Feb 152015
 

How many of you go to the store when you need something and pay full price?  A majority of people plan their meals, and then shop for everything they need regardless of the store’s price.  Or, worse, we go to the store and browse for dinner ideas and easily spend $100 on items we didn’t know we needed until we saw them on the shelf!  (And, come home and order pizza because we’re exhausted from the grocery shopping!)

One of the things I discuss in depth in my classes is the value in planning and shopping ahead!  Although it seems easier to just buy what you need, when you need it, the cost you’re paying is significantly higher than it needs to be!

Instead, let’s look at what you’re going to use over a six to eight week period.  After checking your cabinets and pantry to see what you have on hand, you’ll begin shopping based on what you use the most.  I want you to find the best deals available, and I want you to buy those deals, and nothing else.  It may mean one week you’re buying only frozen vegetables, and beef broth, and the next you’re buying spaghetti sauce and soup.  But, because you’ll be buying what you use regularly, at the lowest price available, you’ll see your bottom line decrease as the items you bring home increase!

Let’s assume your family enjoys approximately ten boxes of cereal every six weeks.  During a previous sale, General Mills cereal was on sale for $2.67 a box, and a Sunday Pantagraph had $1/3 coupons!  At this price, with the coupon, the cost is $7.01 for three boxes.  But, the store was offering a promotion, too, and if you bought ten boxes, you’d receive an instant $3 off your total, plus an additional $3 catalina to use like cash on a subsequent transaction!  By buying ten at $26.70, using three $1/3 coupons, and receiving the instant $3 off, the total became $20.70 for ten boxes of cereal. When you consider the additional $3, your net cost is only $17.70 or $1.77 per box of cereal!  Considering the average price for name brand cereal is more than $3 a box, and you have just saved almost half the retail cost, this becomes a delicious deal!

For more information on why it’s important to know your what your family consumes in six to eight weeks, join us for an upcoming class!  I’ll be teaching at Heartland through their community ed program soon, so register now to join me.

Feb 082015
 

One of the most important things couponers-to-be can do is change their mind set.  If you begin to think of coupons as cash, as a form of payment, you may be more willing to use them on a frequent basis!  I don’t know of anyone who wouldn’t pick up a quarter, so why not use multiple coupons worth 25¢ each (or more!) and enjoy the savings?

Coupons can also show the value of money!  Have you ever considered using your coupons savings to pay allowances to your children?  It would certainly be an eye opener for them if you allowed your children to assist with matching sales, cutting coupons, and then actually giving them the value of that time invested!

Inventorying what you have at home is very important.  Check your freezer, refrigerator, cabinets, and any pantry areas you may have.  Create meals based on what you have, and purchase items only to complete those specific plans before buying excessive groceries.

It’s very important to remember that no single store will have the best price on every item you want to purchase!  If you only want to shop at one store, choose the store that has the most items, at the lowest prices, but only buy what is on sale, and continue to check other stores and other sales for the additional items on your list.

As an example, Cub Foods had a great deal on Farmland Lunchmeats.  Each item was only $1.50 each, and with $1 coupons in our local Pantagraph, the cost was just 50¢ for each package of lunch meat!  This is an unbeatable deal, and because most lunchmeat freezes without issue, it’s definitely a stock up price!

Schnucks had Dole Fruit Crisp packages on sale for $2 each.  With a 50¢ coupon found in our Sunday Pantagraph, doubled, the cost was only $1.  (Schnucks is our only store in BloNo that still doubles the value of our coupons!) Because this is a great stock up price for me, I’d buy enough to carry me through until the next sales cycle, typically six to eight weeks.

For more information on sales cycles, finding coupons, organizational tips, as well as insight on my own experiences, please join me at Heartland Community College! I’ll be teaching a Community Ed course on the power of coupons.

And, a special shout out to my daughter, Autumn! She turns 12 on Valentine’s Day.  I love you, sweets, and I’m so proud of you!