Friday, February 07, 2014

Frugal Friday: Getting Started

Welcome to Frugal Friday! Here's where I'd plan to share tips about couponing and saving money on everyday life. Today I'm going to explain how to get started on saving money. Nothing too complicated, I promise!

Here's a brief inside on how I got started with couponing.

After I found out I was pregnant with our first daughter, we both came to the conclusion I would stay home with her instead of working. Money was going to be tight, but nothing we couldn't handle. I did know that meant that gaming would have to be put on hold for a while. Boo. However, one day when I had a bit of downtime at my temp job, I was reading news articles online. There was an instance where a lady had been arrested for stealing newspaper inserts claiming that she didn't know that it was considered stealing. I thought that she was completely nuts {she was, not going to lie - stealing is stealing}, but the article mentioned this show called Extreme Couponing was to blame for this crazy behavior. Since I had nothing better to do at home, I found the show and started watching it. It was INSANE! These people were clearly crazy and the show was obviously staged. However, it got me thinking about how there had to be a way to save money on things we were going to need, like diapers and formula.

And this is where the part of my personality that becomes addicted to something easily comes into play. I dove into researching ways I could save money and pretty soon I became consumed with couponing. It was really embarrassing at first, but once I got the swing of it, I'm more embarrassed watching people spend $200 on what I can get for at least half that. I started with just two cans of shaving cream, and I was hooked. Then we bought one shelf for the garage.

That picture was taken almost exactly 2 years ago. I was extremely proud of this! We had stuff we needed and I had cut our grocery bill down considerably!

And now...

And this isn't even all of it.

We still don't have the luxury of spending a lot of money on unnecessary things, but this has helped a lot over the past two years. I've even been able to get a few new games! Keeping me sane is quite necessary.

Now, here is my advice to you.

1) Shop sales and stock up when the price is lowest. Even just Buy 1, Get 1 free {BOGO} sales will bring your cost down. However, don't simply buy an item that's on sale or BOGO just because it is. My father has a bad habit of buying mayo when its BOGO even when he has 8 in the pantry. Know your limits and what you and your family actually need.

2) Research. To find out the lowest price point may take some trial and error, but you'll start to understand it. There are great places to see what the lowest price-point is for other people, like Southern Savers, but remember that location will make that differ for each person. For instance: my lowest price-point for Dawn dish soap is $.50 for a bottle. That is because I know the lowest price it'll go down for a sale will be between $.88 and $.99 and I have rarely seen coupons with any value higher than $.50 off of 1 bottle. Since I live in Florida and absolutely none of the stores around me will double coupons {a store will match a certain amount of the coupon, but more on that topic another week}, I will only be able to get $.50 off each bottle. In a location where stores do double coupons, that $1 bottle of Dawn with that $.50 coupon will be absolutely free.

3) Pair the sales with coupons available. Check out sites like Southern Savers and Krazy Coupon Lady for coupon match-ups and a database to search to see if there are coupons available for the items you plan on buying.

4) Have patience. Start with only one store to begin with. You won't be able to get $1000 worth of groceries and for pennies overnight. You also cannot expect to have savings without putting in the time and research. You don't have to spend 60 hours a week to find good deals, but you can't expect them to just appear and be done for you.

5) Your goal should not be free, but saving at least 50% of what you're buying. At least at first. As you learn the ways, it will get easier and you'll start to notice patterns in the cycles of sales and coupons. Cutting your grocery bill in half is the ultimate goal at first. You don't want to get frustrated and overwhelmed before you even get the hang of things. Once you've got that down, you'll notice that your savings are getting bigger and your out of pocket expenses are getting lower.

Every Friday I'm going to try and break things down for you. I'd like to share a few of my favorite deals for the upcoming/current week, and share my trips in order to explain how and why I did what I did.

If you have any advice, requests, or questions, leave a comment below!

This post is linked up to A Bowl Full of Lemons’ One Project at a Time, & The SITS Girls Saturday Sharefest.

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