Last week, I received an incredible positive response from other divorced moms about my post “We who have done so much with so little for so long can now do anything with nothing.” Thank you to everyone for the e-mails and responses!!
I would like to begin a series of ideas and ways to stretch our dollars. This is where you come in. I live in a decent size city in the (kind-of) Midwest. There are so many different types of shops and stores in different areas of the country that I know don’t exist nationally. Any and all ideas will be much appreciated. Information is power and we have the power to improve our situations, no matter if we are simply looking for ways to save a little here and there, or if this is a necessary lifestyle.
For Part 1 of my series, I would like to talk about coupons. Yes, COUPONS. The word just makes my skin crawl. Being a single mom, I barely have time between working odd shifts at two different jobs, taking care of my small zoo of pets and house chores to even think about time consuming coupons. AND NOW IT IS WARM OUT AGAIN SO I HAVE TO MOW ON TOP OF IT ALL!! UGH!
Truth be known, when Grant and Kristy were little, I often would walk out of a store saving at least half of my weekly grocery bill by couponing, and I was by no means a coupon queen. Only on a few occasions was I “That Woman” in front of you in the check out with 2 different orders going and a stack of coupons in hand. I mostly shop off brand now, and try to save money that way. But how do you save if you are in an area where off brand discount grocery stores do not exist or are too far away to make the trip worthwhile? Coupons are a good option.
In what seems like another lifetime, I had friends who were in a coupon club. I was never “in the club” but reaped many benefits from it. I would cut about every coupon I could from the Sunday paper coupon section and even pay a “small handling fee” for coupons I ordered online to trade with my friends.
I learned many tips from the “clubbers,” such as, the sale cycle. If you pay close attention to the ads, most medium and large grocery stores, and especially the big box stores like Walmart, have sales in 6 week cycles. By watching the ads, you can plan in advance for the next sale on the item you need, and stock up on coupons. Some stores even double up to a certain dollar amount.
I am very lucky to live in suburbia, so Walmart and Aldi are literally two minutes from my quiet neighborhood. I completely understand this comfort is not available for all moms. When I visit my boyfriend’s farm, we plan our trips to town to get the most out of our diesel fuel in his big pick-up.
If you do not get the Sunday paper and keep forgetting to grab the ads while at the store, there are great sites online that offer printable coupons, and many stores have their weekly ad posted on their site.
Many of your favorite manufacturers offer a printable coupon section of their website. For an example, General Mills offers cereal coupons and links to coupons for Betty Crocker and Pillsbury. LOZO, SmartSource and Valpak offer printable coupons from multiple manufacturers. FOR FREE.
Another “clubber” fun fact I learned is that coupons have different values according to what part of the country you live in. On the East Coast, a Tide coupon may be worth $1.50 off. In the Midwest, that same coupon will only be $0.75 off due to the lower cost of living. There are great sites that only charge a “small handling fee” for coupons, so you can get that greater value coupon no matter where you live. The site I used to order coupons from is no longer in service, but found one very similar called TheCouponClippers.
A little extra time spent planning may mean more money in your hand by the end of the month. Some weeks, just an extra $10 would mean the world to me.
What are ways you save money on groceries? Do you have any coupon tips?