I recently received some great emails from readers filled with stories of their money-saving couponing successes. Here's one's reader's story:
“In your recent column, there was a letter from a reader who thinks couponing is all smoke and mirrors, and you outlined another shopper's recent savings. I was that shopper! It takes hard work and attention to detail rather than 'smoke and mirrors.' But without examples, I can see where one would be skeptical.
“I thought I'd share some examples of deals that all add up to savings. I truly think of this as income from a part-time job. First, in two recent shopping trips, I spent $44.45 and $48.64 and saved $50.16 and $50.12, respectively. Preparing for each trip took about an hour spent this way: going through the weekly ad to check specials, using a coupon site to match coupons to offers and then clipping the coupons from my newspaper inserts, weekly newspaper supplements or printing those available online. Both trips involved a combination of vendor coupons, store coupons and special/promotional pricing.
“Here are several specific examples of deals I got. One was for bags of mashed potatoes priced at $3.79, buy one get one free. I had a store coupon for $1 off two and two 75-cent manufacturer coupons. So what would have been a retail purchase totaling $7.58 was $1.29, or 65 cents per container of mashed potatoes. Another sale was on 100-percent whole-grain pasta, buy one get one free at $1.59. I had a $1-off-two coupon, so I purchased $3.18 in pasta for 59 cents, or about 30 cents per box. Fig cookies were on sale for $3. I had two $1-off coupons and on the cookie packages were “peelie” coupons for $1 off fresh fruit. So I was able to get two packages of cookies and nearly 3 pounds of bananas for $4! One final deal, cheese and breading mix were $2.99, buy one get one free. I had two $1.50-off coupons, so these were free!
“I've shopped this way for over 20 years, but the Internet and these coupon-to-sale matching sites are heaven sent. Everything I do is legal and ethical. I do not clear shelves; I do not take more coupons than I need; I do not resell what I buy; I buy what's on sale with a combination of store and/or vendor coupons.
“To make this work consistently, you have to be diligent, not loyal to specific brands, willing to try new things and not tempted to buy what's not on sale.”
Smart living tip
Don't get discouraged in your couponing journey. Remember that any amount of money you save this week with coupons, even if it's just $5 or $10 dollars, is a success! We all have days that are better than others.