Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Healthy on a Budget - Couponing

Last November my sister and I attended a conference for moms (Hearts at Home) and one of the sessions I attended was called Living with Less So Your Family Has More (also the title of Jill Savage's book).  One of the things I learned in this session was about couponing and how much I could be saving on groceries by clipping and printing coupons and matching them up with the weekly sales in my local stores.  It took me awhile to discover websites that were helpful for matching coupons and finding deals, but when I found MoneySavingMom.com I learned a lot about saving money on my groceries.  One of the things that Crystal suggests on her blog is using a cash budget for groceries that way when the cash is gone, no more shopping for the week.  I believe this is a Dave Ramsey principle, but I'm not sure yet since we just started taking the Financial Peace University class.  I started doing a $100/week cash budget for groceries in January and it has helped cut down on our grocery bill, but after I started using coupons I was also buying more processed food than I normally do because they were often free with coupons.

There are organic coupons and deals out there, you just have to search for them and shop wisely.  Below are a few websites that offer organic printable coupons.  Be sure to check your store’s policies and try to match up the coupons to when the items are on sale and then stock up.  Some stores (like Target and some Whole Foods locations) allow you to “stack” coupons where you use one of their store coupons plus a manufacturer’s coupon for the same item.  For example, I have a Target coupon for $1 off packaged berries and I have a Driscoll’s coupon for 50 cents off a berry purchase – so I can get $1.50 off an organic berry purchase at Target.  Or, I could use my 50 cents off coupon at my local Roundy’s store on Wednesday or Saturday when they double their coupons and get $1 off of organic berries there.  Usually you can only print out two copies of each coupon per computer – so if you have access to more than one computer you could print out more than two copies. 

Another place to print out coupons is SwagbucksSwagbucks is a rewards site that rewards you for searching the web, shopping online, completing polls, purchasing social deals, and various other activities including printing and using coupons.  Just this week they had a coupon for Boulder Canyon Totally Natural Potato Chips.  In the past I have gotten coupons for Seventh Generation products, Power Bar, Newman’s Own and a variety of other items.  This is the place I go to first for printing coupons so that I can also earn Swagbucks and then use the Swagbucks for things like an Amazon, Starbucks, Barnes & Noble, Home Depot, iTunes, or Target gift card among many other items and options.  I have been able to typically earn 10-20+ Swagbucks per day, which usually leads to a $5 Amazon gift card every month for just searching the web and answering their polls and the occasional swag code or game.  You can earn a lot more than that per day by filling out surveys, completing tasks, watching videos, etc.  And, there is a referral program, so if you get others to sign up using your referral code then you will earn Swagbucks when your friends search.  If you have not signed up for Swagbucks yet, please use my referral code and start earning some free money for the things you already do online!  One quick tip – I suggest adding the search toolbar to make it easier to search instead of having to go to their webpage every time.

In addition to the sites above, check out Target’s online printable coupons for stacking purposes.  Organic coupons can also be found on the manufacturer’s website.  For example, Stoneyfield, Organic Valley and Horizons often have printable coupons on their website.  Sometimes you will have to give them your e-mail address and a bit of other information, I recommend using an e-mail address that you don’t mind getting spam at, but one you check frequently.  Stoneyfield has a rewards program and you can earn coupons as well as other things; just save the foil lids from your yogurt containers and enter the codes on their website.

Even the Sunday paper sometimes has organic and natural coupons.  I don’t actually subscribe to the paper, Ryan’s co-workers give me the coupons that they don’t use and my parents save them for me too.  I went through a big stack of coupon mailers over the weekend and found coupons for Aveeno naturals, Egglands best organic eggs, Hormel natural choice sandwich meat, Neutrogena naturals, Reynolds Wrap recycled foil, in addition to several other items that we buy in our house.  Before you invest in the paper, try getting some free copies from friends, relatives, co-workers, neighbors or you could even try stopping at a coffee shop on a Sunday to see if someone leaves them behind or check with a gas station or grocery store that sells the paper on Sunday night or early Monday morning to see if they have any left that you could take.

Are you ready to start printing/clipping coupons and saving money?  I hope so!  Next week I’ll talk more about a way to significantly cut the amount you spend on groceries.

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