Guest Post – Coupons & Healthy Living

I’m excited to be here guest posting on In My Tummy. Lee’s giving me the chance to talk to you about couponing today. Who doesn’t like saving a little money, right?

I used to think that coupons were great, if you wanted to save $.55 on a box of Toaster Strudel or $.30 on a can of Hormel Chili. Big whoop.

But coupons and healthy living are not mutually exclusive. You can eat well and still save big at the same time.

Step 1: Know your store’s coupon policies.

If you live in the southeast, Publix and Kroger are probably the most prevalent chains in your area. The majority of Targets and Walmarts are of the “super” variety as well, meaning they basically contain a full grocery store with fresh produce, meat and bakery items.

Points to know:
All these stores accept manufacturer coupons.
• Publix and Kroger will automatically double manufacturer coupons < $.50 in face value. • Publix, Kroger and Super Target also issue their own store coupons (on their websites & in-store) • They will allow you to combine one store coupon with one manufacturer coupon per item. • Publix (at least in the ATL metro) will also accept competitors' store coupons (e.g. Super Target & Kroger) Publix and Kroger run Buy One, Get One Free (BOGO) sales on a long list of items each week. You don't have to buy 2. This just means each item will ring up as 50% off at the register. Combine a BOGO item (50% off) with a manufacturer's coupon AND a store coupon; now you're talking big savings. (Note: If you live in Florida, BOGO is just that. The first item rings up at full price, the second one rings up as free…whether you actually take it or not. So your out of pocket totals will always be a little higher.)

Use drug stores deals to nab toiletries and diapers for free to close to free. Rite Aid, CVS and Walgreens will combine store coupons and manufacturer coupons as well. They also issue register rewards (“Up Rewards” at Rite Aid, “Extra Care Bucks” at CVS, “Register Rewards” at Walgreens) when you purchases certain items each week. These “rewards” print out on your receipt at act like gift cards that you can use towards anything on your next purchase. Pay in separate transactions at the register to “roll” these rebates towards the next items, and walk away spending very little out of pocket.

Be sure to sign up for your store’s member loyalty cards, and scan them every time you check-out to get the advertised discounts.

Saving Star is a new website that offers e-coupons that you can use in conjunction with paper coupons. Register your store loyalty cards on their website, then select your e-coupons. Every time you swipe your store loyalty cards at the checkout, the e-coupon savings are added to your online Saving Star account. Once you have at least $5 in savings, you can select your payout, either a direct deposit to your bank account or Paypal account, or an Amazon gift card.

Step 2: Know where to find coupons.

I always buy two Sunday newspapers, so when I find good deals, I can get at least two of them. If you see coupons coming out for an item, you can be assured that it will be going on sale within the next few weeks. Hold on to your coupons for when the item goes on sale to get rock-bottom price. But there are many more resources for coupons than just the newspaper. Knowing where to find coupons for the things you like to buy is key. You’re not likely to find coupons for organic products in your Sunday newspapers. You can almost always get coupons by going directly to the company’s website or Facebook page. Some of my favorite organic sites include:

www.stonyfieldfarms.com
www.cascadianfarms.com
www.horizondairies.com
www.mambosprouts.com

My go-to sites to get manufacturer coupons on everything else are:

www.coupons.com
www.smartsource.com
www.redplum.com
www.allyou.com
www.cellfire.com
www.shortcuts.com

Step 3: Let other people do the work for you.

Subscribe to couponing and deal spotting blogs. They will constantly update you on new coupons that are available and how to pair them with weekly sales.

Helpful sites:

Money Saving Mom
Passionate Penny Pincher
Southern Savers
Saving Money Living Life

There are many more tips and nuances to couponing. The Coupon Mom’s Book is a comprehensive place to get started. Also do a Google search to find couponing workshops in your area.

I’ve seen my monthly “stuff” bill (grocery/toiletry/diapers/cleaning products, etc) go from over $600 to $325 a month since I started couponing seriously. No more buying generics and shopping exclusively at Wally World. It’s all name brand stuff from regular stores now.

And don’t forget, churches, food pantries and other charity organizations can always use donations. Toiletries, non perishables and baking items can easily be gotten for free or close to free with sales and coupons.

Now go forth and save. And stop by Atlanta Running Mom to say hi!

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