Friday, February 18, 2011

Ask Me Friday!

Ask Me Friday!

The first "Ask Me Friday" question came from a recent coupon class that I gave.  I had the ladies write down questions during the class and I tried answering as many as I could at the end of the class.

Kallie R. asked:
How do you manage what you need and what's on a coupon? 

It is so easy to get caught up in the world of couponing.  It's thrilling to purchase things at a ridiculously low price or often times completely FREE!  However, this is where your budget needs to come in to play.  The art of couponing is a great thing to learn, but if you don't have a budget you can get into trouble very fast.

Example:  Just because razors are on sale for $3.99 and you have a $3.00 coupon doesn't mean that you have to go out and get a new razor!   In reality you're going to spend $.99 plus tax out of your pocket to get that razor.  Do you have $.99 in your budget to spare on something that you don't necessarily need?  I know that .99 cents doesn't sound like much, but what if you have four coupons and bought four razors?  Then it's roughly $4.00 that you would spend.  What if you see another bargain while you're shopping...and another...and another???  Get the point?  It all adds up VERY quickly...even with coupons!!!

Here's what I personally do in these cases:

1.  I have a budget and have learned to stick to it.  It's hard sometimes, but my goal is to SAVE as much money as I can.  That's the reason why I coupon shop!

2.  Make a menu.  When you make a menu that includes items that are in your stockpile along with items that are on sale matched with coupons you will lower your total OOP (out of pocket) expenses on your grocery bill.

3.  Set a certain amount of your grocery budget aside for extra bargains or deals that you see while shopping. Maybe you didn't know about that razor being on sale, but noticed it while you were in the store.  Assuming that you have your razor coupon/s with you it frees you up to purchase that item.  This also works with other items you would find on sale, such as cereal or other staples.  If you don't spend that extra money set aside this week, then add it to next weeks budget.  For example:  I set $5.00 every week aside for my "impulse buying."  (Oh, and yes, that would be an impulse purchase because it's something that you didn't plan on purchasing in the first place!)  If I choose to follow my budget and not impulse buy then I would have $10.00 next week to grab extra bargains with.  This helps when I see that something is at its rock bottom price or on Manager Markdown.  I can stockpile it without going over my budget.

4.  Start working on making a stockpile of your most commonly used items.  The goal here is to stockpile these items when they are at their lowest price.  For example:  recently there was a $2.25 Electrosol Finish dishwasher detergent coupon.  I knew that I would want that coupon.  So I got several of them and wound up getting 7 boxes of detergent.  I made out great on that deal and have detergent to last several months.

5.  Only buy what you need or what you will use with a coupon.  Just because you have a coupon for a product it doesn't mean that you have to buy it.  (Yes, I actually typed those words!)  I know several people that have gotten discouraged quickly because they don't understand this.  We all have different tastes, but really...if you don't like BarS Hot Dogs and you have a coupon for them then don't buy them!  The only exception I would make to this is if you could get it free...remember you can always give them away or donate them to a food pantry.  Remember still requires tax to be paid!

6.  Lastly...Hang in there!  You'll find your own niche and figure out how to make this all work for you!  Give it some time, stick to your budget, don't get too coupon crazy and you'll be a coupon expert in no time!

Do you have a question you want answered?  Ask it in the comments below and I'll try to answer 1 or 2 questions every Friday!

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