Coupon Basics

The general idea of couponing is to build a stockpile of certain items that you need when they are at low prices. Eventually you won't need to buy almost anything at full price. I highly recommend The Grocery Game on the sidebar for the best information on prices with coupon matchups.

I typically buy 5 Sunday papers each week. However, I check on what coupons are available before deciding the exact number I need. You can usually get a preview of the coupons a day or two ahead of time on the Taylortown link on the sidebar.

Sometimes it's also possible to check the sales ads before they come out on Sunday. I've found that Slick Deals is the best place for these. Use the link at the side and do a search for "Walgreens ad" or whatever store you're looking for.

Building a Stockpile

Stockpiling is the essence of couponing.  Buy more of the things that are on sale, and fewer of the things that aren't.  Once you have a decent stockpile, you'll hardly ever need to buy anything that isn't on sale.  Here is a schedule that I recommend using to build your stockpile.

First of all, figure out what your weekly budget is.  Mine used to be $40 a week.  

Week 1 - start using coupons, but you won't be stocked up, so you'll still need to buy quite a few items that aren't on sale.  I recommend trying to reduce your normal grocery cost to $30, the stockpile on the sale items with the other $10.

Week 2 - pretty much the same as week 1.  $30 on regular groceries, $10 on stockpiling.

Week 3 - You should be able to cut back your normal grocery expense to $20 now because of the beginnings of your stockpile.  Still spend the same $40, using the other half to stockpile on items that are on sale.

Week 4 - you should probably have a large enough stockpile now to actually start cutting back on your weekly budget.  Personally, I would aim for only spending $20 for the week.  Hopefully just $10 on necessities, and $10 on stockpiling.

After that, you should probably only be spending half of your usual grocery budget each week.  Partially on necessities you don't already have, the rest on big sale items.  From there you will have the hang of the process and be able to manage it however you want to.  

On a side note, there are certain things that you should NEVER pay full price for.  Toothpaste is one of those things.  Start paying close attention to the ads (or let another website like Grocery Game do it for you,) and within a couple weeks, you'll be able to find a good deal.  Never, ever, ever pay more than $2 for toothpaste.  And that's at the high end.  Personally, I won't pay more than a quarter for it.  Of course there are exceptions if you need something special for sensitive teeth or something.  

NEVER pay full price for makeup.  Walgreens or CVS almost always has a BOGO deal on something.  If your brand isn't the one on sale, suck it up and cope with something different.  Or wait until your brand is on sale.  Sooner or later it will be.  With Walgreens and CVS both, if you're doing a buy one get one free deal, you are able to use a coupon for each item even though the second one is free.

Cereal.  Never pay more than $2 a box.  If you can't get that kind of a deal on a name brand, make do with the store brand.  Within a couple weeks, you should be able to find good name brands (often times with free toys inside or to send away for!) for $2 or less.  I was able to stock up big time on cereal for about 67 cents a box at Walgreens one week.

As you are able to save extra money, I recommend putting the extra you would have spent on groceries towards credit card debt, or into a savings account.  
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