This is one of the promos I did for Extreme Couponing….I look like a badass, right? ;)
I first started couponing just after my divorce. I had just moved out of our family home (because I couldn’t afford it on my own) and into a two bedroom apartment in the West End of Portland. At the time, I was self employed with only 3 paying clients. To say that I was scared was an understatement, every night was spent by scheming ways to make more money. But the truth was, besides my job and my kids, I didn’t have any more FREE time to earn more, so I quickly realized, instead of making more, I need to spend less…and that’s exactly what I did.
In the weeks and months that followed, I studied coupon blogs like it was my job. I printed and clipped every coupon that came out and I went out to the stores and robbed them blind (ok, not really but it felt that way in the beginning). I quickly amassed a huge stockpile of close to $5,000 worth of food, beauty products and household cleaners. I reduced my grocery budget from $800 a month to only $150 a month. That was like getting a $650 a month raise, or a $7,000 a year raise!
For the first time in my adult life, I had money in my savings account! Even when I was married, we never had any money in our savings account, because our spending habits sucked. Now, a year after my divorce, I was on my own, in my own apartment and had money in the bank. It felt good…who am I kidding..it felt fucking awesome. It felt awesome to have gone through such a horrible, defeating experience like divorce and end up in a better financial position. I, for the first time, was proud of myself.
My goal with this blog is to give you the tools to not only save a shit ton of money, but also give you to the tools to put yourself in a better financial and mental position following your divorce. If I can do this…you can do this.
Naysayers, I know there are some of you are thinking to yourself that you do NOT have time to coupon. Bullshit. Yes you do. Turn on the TV at night and clip and surf the web for deals. Then on your lunch break, a weekend or anytime you can, get to the store and get those deals….save that money…and do your wallet…your kids and your mental well-being some good!
1. Start Collecting Coupons – The first thing you are going to need to do is get your hands on some coupons…and luckily for you there are lots of ways to get coupons! One of my cardinal rules of couponing is: “The more coupons you have, the more deals you can do”. The reason that Extreme Couponers are able to do huge shopping trips and amass huge stockpiles is because they have a lot of coupons.
Here are a few places that you can get coupons:
- Sunday Coupon Inserts: Start buying your Sunday paper. This will always be the easiest way of getting coupons. Extreme couponers usually buy several copies of the paper each week, but you may not have to do that. Here are a few tips on how to get more coupon inserts.
- Printable Coupons: Printable coupons are everywhere! You will need a printer and some paper to get started. Here are some of the most popular places to get coupons on the internet: Coupons.com, RedPlum & SmartSource. You can also check out this list, I once put together: 101 places to get FREE printable coupons.
- Digital Coupons: There are also a couple of digital coupon services that I recommend signing up for SavingStar & Cellfire. These services allow you to load coupons right onto your grocery or drug store loyalty cards.
- Mobile Coupons: If you’ve got a smartphone, you can save money. There are several money saving apps like: Ibotta (find out more here), Checkout 51, Shopmium & Target Cartwheel. These are coupons that are only available on your phone and you redeem them either by showing the cashier your phone OR uploading the receipt after purchase.
2. Learn How to Use Coupons:
Knowing when and how to use coupons is going to be one of the biggest struggles that you have as a newbie couponer…but do not despair, that’s why I’m here! I’ve got lots of pro-tips for beginner couponers. It’s very tempting, when you have a new coupon, to want to go out and use it right away…but don’t do it! Wait until that item is on sale (ideally at the lowest price in the sales cycle) and then use it! Using a coupon on an item that is already on sale is like double the savings!
3. Finding Couponing Deals:
Now that you know where to get coupons and how to use them, it’s time to start finding deals and saving money. Ladies, the reason I created the CouponKarma website…was to be able to teach and show you how to coupon and give you access to the best in-store and online deals! Each week, you’ll find deals at over 20 stores on CouponKarma. We matchup local grocery sales flyers with available coupons and then pick out the best deals for you! Head over to our matchups page, find your local store and start creating a printable shopping list!
When you see coupon deals on the our site, they will usually be laid out exactly as you see it in the image above. You can reference the labels on the image to see what each line means, which coupons you need and what your final price will be. If you ever have a question about a deal, send me an email at [email protected] or ask it on our Facebook community page!
4. Go out and shop:
Now that you’ve got your coupons, know how to use them and have found a few couponing deals on the CouponKarma website, you’ll want to create a shopping list and head to the store. But of course, I have some more tips for you:
Start Small – Couponing can be overwhelming, especially when you are not used to it. Create a small list of a few items and go out and shop for only those items. That way you can get a feel for couponing.
Not everything goes as planned – I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been at the checkout and an item didn’t ring up properly or my coupon didn’t scan, or god forbid, I made a mistake and grabbed the wrong item. In these cases, just go with the flow.
I hope you enjoyed the Divorced Girl’s Guide to Couponing and are motivated to start couponing! I’m always here (or on Facebook) if you have a question and by all means, share this guide with your friends, because couponing with friends is a heck of a lot funner than doing it alone!
P.S. I also blog about life, love and the pursuit of happiness after divorce over at KatieGorgeous!