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Saturday, October 25, 2014   
 

Are you paying Tony the Tiger's salary?
by Samantha Powell
Samantha is a DebtSmart Reader who decided to share her tips for saving money with coupons. moonflowermania@hotmail.com
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Why is the price of cereal so high? How much does it really cost to make corn flakes with sugar coating?

I have a major problem paying $3.89 for a box of cereal that more than likely cost $0.35 to make! What if I were to tell you that I NEVER, EVER pay more than $0.50 for a box of name-brand, good tasting cereal? You are probably thinking "no way" or "not possible!" But it is! How, you say? By using coupons, yes coupons. 

You know what they are. Those little pieces of paper that people have in the grocery checkouts that drive you absolutely insane because they hold up the line. And of course you always manage to get behind someone that has what seems to be more than the world's share of coupons. 

Do you know the real reason most people use coupons? It is not because they are poor, or because they are "tightwads". It is because it can save them so much money! 

Unfortunately, in today's society there is a stigma with using coupons. Why, I don't know, but what I do know is that I save 80% every time I go shopping. I take care of a family of five with 3 children (ages 14, 10, and 11 months), 2 dogs, 1 cat, 2 gerbils and 1 husband for $50-$75 per month - not per week, per MONTH. This dollar figure includes diapers, food, cleaning, and all health and beauty products. 

Now I am telling you that you can do this too... It won't happen overnight, but it can happen.

This is what you do: 

1. Get as many coupons as you can.
From newspapers, family, friends, internet, purchase on EBAY - anywhere you can find them. 

2. Forget brand loyalty.
Manufacturers love people who will "always" buy the same product. If Tide detergent is on sale at Kroger, but you always buy Surf detergent, BUY the Tide! Generally, all types of items are of the same quality, but manufacturers would like you to think otherwise. You are basically paying for the "fluff" in their commercials! 

3. NEVER, EVER buy an item without a coupon and NEVER, EVER buy that item unless it is on sale! 
I cannot stress this enough. Of course there are some items you just have to have and you do not have a coupon for, but once you have a supply of coupons those instances are very rare. There is a philosophy with my children in my house. My kids know that if they want a Lunchable in their lunch next week it had better be on sale and I MUST have a coupon. Or they don't get it. 

4. Take advantage of double couponing.
Some stores offer doubling couponing as a means to get you into their store. This is worked into their operating budget as a marketing tool. What this means is this: you have a $0.50 coupon off of Tide detergent. Well a lot of stores will take that $0.50 coupon and double it to $1.00. This means if Tide is on sale for $3.99 and you use a $0.50 coupon, the cost will be $2.99. Now imagine you had 20 $0.50 coupons for 1 weeks worth of items -- that is $10 DOLLARS in savings right there!

Sometimes you will get really lucky and your store will double coupons up to $1.00! That would be up to $2.00 off of items. You can get tons of groceries for free this way! Stores do not have a problem doubling a coupon to make an item free, as long as you are purchasing the correct item that the coupon is asking for.

By taking advantage of double coupon offers (especially double up to $1.00) I have a pantry full of jelly, pickles, pasta products, salsa, spaghetti sauce, and much more!

As an added perk if you get to the point of having too much of an item you can donate it to a local shelter and write it off as a tax deduction! 

5. Combine store coupons with manufacturers coupons. 
Sometimes stores will have a coupon in their ad or on the shelf say for $1.00 off when you buy 3 Stove Top Oven Classics. If you have coupons for stovetop classics, find 3 of them, combine it with the stores $1.00 off as well and you will have even more savings. 

6. Items without coupons. 
It is hard to come by coupons for some items like milk, meat, and produce. They are around, you just need to keep your eyes peeled for them. Sometimes these coupons are on packages of products as a peel-off. This is where most of my money is spent as I don't have too many coupons for those items.

Before I end this I would like to mention a fallacy about using coupons. Stores DO like it when you use them. First, it brings you into the store to potentially purchase other items from them. Second, they do make money from the coupons (unless the store doubles). They get reimbursed from the manufacturer of the coupons an $0.08 handling fee per coupon. You are not taking away from the "average Joe" making a buck by using a coupon.

Yes, using coupons does take a lot of time. Scoping out where the sales are takes time as well. But tell me, why do you take the time to get a great interest rate on a mortgage or car? Or why do you cut your cable bill to the bare minimum to save an extra $40? Why not take just a little extra time per week to cut your grocery bill in half at least? 

And yes, of course I splurge every so often and buy something without a coupon, as I am human. You don't have to give anything up just because you use coupons. I don't know about you, but I have better places to spend my money other than the local Kroger!

There is so much more to tell you. If you're interested in getting started, but don't know where to begin please contact me at moonflowermania@hotmail.com. I would be happy to help you out! Heck, I may even send you some coupons to get you started!

--End--

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