Coupon Clipping Saves on the Food Budget

My wife and I began budgeting in January. We’ve struggled to stay within the budget for a few categories, but there is one where we stay within the budget every time, and that’s the food budget. We allow ourselves $400 a month for food and toiletries, which normally allows us to go out to eat about two times a month. We think our food budget is a good one, but we’d like to go out to eat and enjoy ourselves more often. The solution: (no, it’s not increasing the budget) coupon clipping!

Susan Samtur, a woman who is famous for mastering the art of coupon clipping, was on the news a few months ago, showcasing her skills in the aisles her local supermarket. With a cart full of groceries, and a bill of only $9.00, I was immediately intrigued and vowed that I would learn this money saving art.

I woke up this morning, eager to get the Sunday paper and try my hand at coupon clipping. There were quite a few coupons, and most of them were on items that we were looking to buy today. My excitement level was certainly on the rise! Plus, not only did I clip the coupons from the newspaper, I also visited the Target website and printed the online coupons as well.

Based on the news story, I knew that coupons would definitely yield a savings from the grocery bill, but the trick was to match the store’s sales with the coupons in order to maximize the savings, and sometimes even get free items! So, after I clipped the coupons, I perused the Target website to see what was already on sale. I did my best to match up the coupons with those sale items, but since this was my first go-around and I only had a few coupons, there weren’t too many.

So I know you’re wondering, how did I do? My wife and I zipped through the aisles of our local Target superstore. I manned the freshly cut coupons, and she made sure that we got everything on our grocery list. After all of the groceries were bagged, the total bill came to $156.17. It was time to hand over the wad of coupons to see how I did. Beep, beep, beep; the total was going down and down. I have to admit, I wasn’t completely satisfied with the final bill of $110.43, but it was a savings of $45.74 (I saved 29%!). With those savings, we can go out to eat at a pretty nice restaurant!

I am going to continue to hone my skills in the future as my wife and I continue our journey in becoming debt free. I’ve learned that I actually enjoy coupon clipping. It’s an art that takes discipline, patience, and persistence, and it’s a new challenge that I would love to master!

Do you have any stories about coupon savings? Or maybe it was just a great clearance item that you put to good use! Let me know; I would love to hear about it!

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11 comments to Coupon Clipping Saves on the Food Budget

  • Mom of Five

    I’ve been an internet coupon clipper for about 4 years now. I do use traditional coupons when I come by them, but we don’t regularly buy the Sunday paper and I’m not inclined to organize coupons. I just sit down with the sale circulars and spend about a half hour searching the internet for companion coupons. I go to redplum.com and smartsource.com and coupons.com as well as manufacturers’ websites. Stray from these websites and you increase your likelihood of getting a virus.

    For us, one of the best ways we can save money is to stock up on non-perishable items even if we don’t need them. Initially, we weren’t saving that mauch money but we were getting more diapers, more tin foil, more shampoo, more toothpaste, more frozen vegetables etc. with the same amount of money. There are a lot of items that should never be purchased unless they’re on sale and you have a coupon.

    It won’t be long before you start seeing significant savings, particularly if you can commit yourself to clipping and organizing Sunday paper coupons. A good resource for coupons is http://www.afullcup.com. They have a searchable coupon database.

  • Audrey

    Hey, I just found your blog through GRS. I’m not sure if you saw the news yesterday, but CNN did a story on Target’s coupon policy.

    Apparently they are ringing up their coupons for far less than the face value and then pocketing the difference. They have known about this glitch for at least two months and are still “working on it”.

    They will change the value at the register, but if you don’t catch it, you lose the money. I’d either make copies of the coupons and compare to your receipt or add up how much you expect to save and make sure it matches how much you do actually save.

    • Audrey,
      Before I left Target I did notice quite a few discrepancies on my bill. For instance, I had one coupon for $10 off and it only rang up as $1 off! Luckily I am good at checking these things, but very good point. Always check the receipt!

  • Monica

    There is a great website called HOtCouponWorld.com. They already have a stocked database of coupons, so fi you know you need an item, pull it up and see if you can get the coupon. They also have people who go through the sales paper and calculate the savings for you, trying to get closer to $0 as much as possible. Very awesome website.

  • Brianna

    I’m big into coupons but it only saves us about $15 – $20. Why? Because I tend to buy the store brand ‘generic’ items. I found that most of the time these items are still cheaper than the brand name with a coupon. But of course there are always those items that can’t be replaced with generic. One website I use alot is CouponClippers.com. They will sell coupons to you from all over the U.S. And you get to pick them based on what you need. Has saved me a ton of money when it comes to fast food.

  • Lee

    Store brand may be cheaper, but the name brand often run promotions. I got all name brand (Kraft, General Mills, P&G, ConAgra, Colgate-Palmolive, Unilever) for pennies or free through this kind of promotions (usually run by Catalina Marketing at various grocery stores and drug stores).

  • Another 2 aspects of couponing you want to try…..make up a price book and stockpiling. Get a notepad or notebook and list 20-40 items you buy on a reg. basis. Then when you go to the store each week keep track of the date and what the selling price is. You’ll find that most items cycle every 6-12 weeks from their highest price to their lowest price, or rock bottom price. You want to know the rock bottom prices of all these reg. purchased items and know how often they cycle to that low price. Then you can wait until the item is at rock bottom and stock up on as many as you will use/need until it hits rock bottom again. And hopefully you’ll have coupons to use when thee items are at RB.

    Another thing is to look for Catalina coupon promotions. These typically require you to buy a certain $X amount of an assortment of products that will generate a $X amount coupon to use on your next shopping transaction. If the purchase amount is based on the reg. shelf price but the items are on sale and you have coupons, you can do what they call ‘rolling the cat’ and spend very little out of pocket and end up with hundreds of $s worth of products. Check out this post on my blog…
    http://simpleslug.blogspot.com/2009/08/mother-of-all-shopping-tripsin-last-few.html
    I spent $58 and change for over $1000 worth of food/toiletries in that outing.

    This past year I spent just over $2200 out of pocket for the Whole year for food for a family of 4-5 adults/teens + 3 dogs. And no we didn’t eat crap and ramen noodles all year. We had steak, lobster, chicken, etc. I also donated over $1000 worth of food to my local food bank in 2010. Neither would have been done without knowing how to work the Grocery Stores and beat them at their game.

    Another way to bring down your food costs is to garden and preserve the food you grow. We grew 94 lbs. of food last summer and froze or canned what we didn’t eat fresh. And that was without alot of time or effort on our part.lol

    Using coupons is just the tip of the food savings iceberg!

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