Start 2021’s Savings (and Budgeting) on a Great Start!

If you want to start learning to coupon and having a nice chunk of change towards the end of 2021, then you gotta read this! This article will save you LOTS of TIME and MONEY!

Below is a plan of action to help you get started now. Some of it will blow your mind to how easy it is. The hardest part is staying on track but the rewards is much greater at the end! Are you ready??

#1 Coupons from the newspapers: You can find newspapers at your local gas stations, convenient stores, Walmart, Walgreens and CVS.  It’s best to get up super early, especially when the newspaper street vendors are out right around sunrise Sunday mornings. Contact your local newspaper company to find out where there vendors are located.  Please tip your vendors, especially if they save the discounted papers for you. For my local savers, the Killeen Daily Herald carries RetailMeNot (RMN) and the monthly P&Gs. Austin and Dallas newspapers carry all three: Smartsource (SS), RMN and the P&Gs. For those that live in other cities and states, contact your local newspaper companies on what inserts they carry.                                                                                                                             For the Killeen and surrounding areas, there are local publications that are FREE to the general public which carry the RMN and the P&Gs and will be available based on the coupon insert schedule. These coupon inserts come out before Sunday so you can use them before the actual issued date: Fort Hood Herald newspapers come out every Wednesday, Cove & Heights Herald and Harker Heights Evening Star comes out on Fridays. These will be inside newspaper stands at gas stations, grocery stores, libraries and some food establishments. You can call the Killeen Daily Herald to find locations nearest you at (254) 501-7499.  These inserts vary each week so it’s important to follow the 2021 insert schedule HERE.

#2  Create a budget! Before you start going crazy on couponing, it’s important to create a game plan on how much money you want to spend and save each week or month. In the past, I was the type to fly out the door when I found a great deal but after all the time, gas and money I was spending, I realized that I was saving money on items but I wasn’t saving money to keep in my account. Think of budgeting as a diet. The journey and the outcome is the best part because you will see results here and there but sticking to it is tough! Be realistic yet achievable! To start, take 10% of your net income (look at your last 3 months to find a ball park amount) as your monthly budget and see how much you can buy with it. The key is to buy what you truly need and not deviate from it. For me, I opened a debit card strictly for couponing and I can transfer money to the account. I use the Cash App. Cash App is an account that sends you a debit card. You can use the debit card to make online & instore purchases and also pay other Cash App users. There’s also a “boost” button, which offers discounts on your applicable purchases. Downloading the app and opening an account is free and super easy to set up. Go HERE to earn $5 for setting up the app. Let’s say I put in $100 for the month of January in my app. At the end of the month, I have $30 left. I’ll transfer it to my husband’s Cash App, which he doesn’t touch and that will be our emergency funds. On February 1st, I’ll add $100 and start the month with that. After that month ends, whatever I have left will be transferred into the other Cash App. This system is to help you get started while you use other forms of payments to buy food/necessities but you can put any amount in and use this strictly for groceries or for personal care or household items….however you want to start. The key point is to have some savings left!

#3 Coupon Organization: DO.NOT.CLIP.YOUR.COUPONS! Did you know you only use an average of 30% of the coupons from inserts?? So, why would you spend hours clipping coupons, organizing them and putting them in binders? KEEP WHOLE INSERTS! Use folders with side pockets, attach to a three ring binder, and date them by issuance date on a removable label. If you are looking for a particular coupon, use the Coupon Tom Database to find out when that coupon came out, go to the folder with that date, pull out inserts and look for the coupon and cut out as needed. BOOM! Just saved you a couple of hours.

#4 Where to begin: Pick a store that you want to shop at. Visit their website and review the coupon policy and any rewards program they may have. Download the app and get acquainted with it. Most retail apps have digital coupons that you can clip and redeem at check out. Join Facebook groups that share deals from that company. For example. if you want to start saving money at Walgreen’s, go under the spyglass on Facebook and type in “Walgreen’s Couponing” and there will be several pages of that store relating to deals you can mimic. A lot of couponers post breakdowns to help. Also, go to YouTube for videos. A word of caution: avoid FB groups that have the word “glitter”, “sparkle” or “unicorn” as their name of the group or in the description. These groups promote coupon fraud and there’s a lot of liability in this method so please don’t do it. It’s not worth it! It’s best to follow the fine print of the coupons and the stores’ coupon policies and ASK LOTS OF QUESTIONS! If you don’t think people get arrested for using the wrong coupons on products (called glittering and balancing) and using counterfeit coupons, go HERE to check out the latest arrests of couponers that try to cheat the system. There’s also an organization called Coupon Information Center that works with retail stores and law enforcement to catch shady couponers. You can review the list of counterfeit coupons HERE, check out latest details of investigations HERE and a review couponing etiquettes HERE. Cashiers have been known to lose their jobs and the coupon policies have become much stricter to alleviate loss of money from coupon abuse. Stores do not receive reimbursements from coupons that are used on the wrong items.

#5 Save money without actually shopping in stores! While I stay home a lot during the pandemic, I save lots of money utilizing stores’ online services such as Walmart Grocery Pickup, Dollar General pickup and Walgreen’s curbside pickup. A lot of stores are going digital these days and paper coupon inserts are getting thinner and thinner so it’s important to learn to navigate the apps of your favorite stores. With Walmart, I save money using Ibotta and Coupons.com app to get cash back. At Walgreen’s and Dollar General, I am able to use the store and manufacturer’s digital coupons. I really love Walgreen’s because I can use store and manufacturer digital coupons and an online discount code to save more money through their app and pick them up when I get notification that it is ready to pick up. Even though the manufacturer coupons are one time use, sometimes there are duplicate coupons with different expiration dates and the store coupons (digital or paper form) can be reused all month long! To SAVE MORE MONEY, use Rakuten to get paid for your online purchases! New members get a cash bonus when they sign up and spend $20 online. This includes online orders for curbside pickup! Even though the % of the total purchase may be low, the money you get accumulates every 6 months and you get paid. Rakuten often has random offers with a high % so it does help!

#6 Utilize Digital Apps that PAY you cash back. Think rebates…instead of filling out a form, cutting out the barcode, mailing it in and waiting 6 weeks for a check – you’ll get paid via Paypal within 24 hours. Click HERE to see the list of free apps that give you cash back on items you normally buy.

#7 Stockpile Growing? Rotate your pile. When you start stocking up, date your items so you can rotate by date, using the older items first. I generally do this with personal care items such as shampoo/conditioners, body wash, laundry detergent; pretty much anything liquid or gel. This is very important to do if you keep your stockpile in the garage and bathrooms, where temperatures fluctuate often. I put month/year near the barcode of the items and do this right after a couponing trip.

I hope these steps become beneficial for you and your family. Use these steps to create your own methods that will work for you. If you have any questions, you can send me a message at Savealotmom@yahoo.com or send me a message through Facebook at www.Facebook.com/Savealotmom. Happy Savings, y’all!

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