Family Budgeting with Coupons
Adulting is hard, even when it's filled with great things. Nothing brought me to that sense faster than having $36,000 in student loan debt and working my dream job while being newly married, a new homeowner, and – the cherry on top – having a baby on the way!
Even though we lived on a budget and were fine financially, I was panicked about money. We had lots of great things happening, but I still felt "slave to the almighty dollar" and worried constantly about the unknown. Babies and houses cost a lot of money, and there's plenty of unexpected that can happen with both. Maybe you can relate.
I don't know whether it was fate or divine intervention.
Shortly after a major money meltdown, I stumbled across a friend's social media account where she had posted about a shopping haul she made with her sister. I remember the photo in her post showcased several packages of diapers, baby wipes, and laundry detergent, among other things, but what intrigued me most was the caption: they paid something like $6 for all of it!
I immediately reached out and asked her how. How was she able to get such great deals!? That's when she opened my eyes to the amazing savings that come from extreme couponing.
I must be honest, "couponing" is not for everyone. It can be time consuming to clip, print, organize, and match coupons to deals, but there's nothing like the euphoria you get from having a cart full of groceries and paying almost nothing for it!
At first, I used couponing to stretch the money I had budgeted as far as I could – and if I could start contributing more to my savings, that would be great too. For our family of two adults, one infant, two dogs, and three cats, I had a weekly budget of $100 to cover groceries, personal care, and household item expenses. My goal was to save at least 50% from each shopping trip I planned. Then, anything I had left over, I would put into savings.
Over time, using a few of the tricks and tips I've shared below, I was able to average savings closer to 65% per trip, which allowed me to stretch that budget, reach my savings goals, and pay off my student loans 10 years early!
My Tips and Tricks for Couponing
- Always sign up for a store's savings card program and download their app. They often have exclusive coupons paired with them
- Decide on a budget, plan your shopping trip, and stick to your list
- Become familiar with each store's policies (for coupons, rainchecks, etc.). If you can, bring them along when you're shopping
- Instead of a card, use cash. Then after your shopping trip, deposit the remaining balance into savings
- Store generally have a sales cycle every 6-8 weeks, so try to buy enough of a product at its rock bottom price to make it to the next sale
- Don't be brand loyal – try new products and see if you like them, too. This is a key to great savings, especially on baby, personal care, and pet products!
- Stack your coupons for the best deals. Pair the manufacturer coupons with additional sales and promotions like store discounts, store coupons, etc.
- Get help from other couponers through social media groups, forums, and blogs. They'll often do the research for you and share the best coupon match-ups, which could save you a ton of time!
- Keep in mind, smaller quantity items are sometimes a better deal than bulk items. With enough coupons, for example, you might be able to stock up on the trial size for less – or free!
If you're interested in couponing, you can learn to make it work for you. It just takes a little time to do the research and find your rhythm. Remember, there are fellow couponers out there who want to help you save, too. Just look us up!