Last year when we made a major life change, our income decreased by 75%.  We began to strip away unneeded expenses: second vehicle, whole life insurance to term insurance, higher deductibles on our auto and homeowners insurance, gym membership, etc.

Out food budget had to be adjusted, too.  That’s when I got down to business learning a new skill: super couponing.

Super-couponing is when you match up manufacturer’s coupons with store coupons or specials to buy groceries and health and beauty supplies for pennies on the dollar.  When I did my first deal on my own, I bought over $60 worth of food for $18.  Mark and I left the grocery store high-fiving each other and I knew I was hooked.

Just yesterday, I bought Mark 8 deodorants at Jewel and they gave me .65 back because of my coupons and an instant savings the store was offering (yes, I paid NOTHING for the deodorants…they paid me .65 because I also had coupons!) and then I headed over to Target to buy $28 worth of food and health products for $5.  Amazing!

Super-couponing operates on the concept of stockpiling (the attached photo is one of my stockpile shelves in our basement).  Most sales run in 12 week cycles so you are buying enough to last your family for 12 weeks.  Then you shop your shelves rather than running to the store.  I “deal shop” almost ever week, going to 3-5 stores in my area where I have the most success finding deals (Jewel, Meijer, CVS, Walgreens, and Target).  For the most part, our family makes meals and only uses products that I find deals on (you can’t be too brand-loyal when you deal shop).  About every 6-8 weeks I do a WalMart run where I pick up non-deal items that we need.

Would you like to learn how to super-coupon?  If so you’ll need to “go to school.”  I spent quite a bit of time learning terminology and acquainting myself with the strategies used. Here are the best of the best that I have found:

Some of my favorite reference sites:
Coupon lingo
Coupon Database
How Jewel Catalina Deals Work

Steps I take to find my deals

1) Learn the concepts and the lingo. Understand the strategies of stockpiling. Learn what catalina’s are and how to use them as cash for your groceries.  Learn how to “roll” and “stack” deals.  You can do this by familiarizing yourself with the above websites or other websites you can find that give you coupon match-ups for stores in your area.

2) Use the premise that you have more time than money. Preparing for my weekly “deal shop” trip takes about 60 minutes or so.  I go to my favorite websites to find the deals of the week.  I then print out the needed internet coupons or find them in my coupon inserts from my newspapers.  (Every Sunday I take the coupon inserts out of the newspapers I subscribe to, mark the date with a thick black marker, and put them in my coupon file system.  I don’t clip coupons…I simply find my deals online and they tell me which coupons to print out or find in my file system.)

3. Organize your deal lists and needed coupons. I usually copy and paste the deals I want to do right off my reference websites into a Word document.  Then I print out the Word Document and use it as my deal shopping list.

4. Head out to deal shop. Sometimes I’m heading into a store to do just one deal.  For instance, yesterday when I “bought” the 8 deodorants at Jewel, that’s all I bought there.  Nothing else.   It usually takes me 1-2 hours a week to deal shop.  But I usually come home with over a hundred dollars of product for around $20 or $30.  I feel that’s worth my time!

5. Cut yourself some slack. Super-couponing has a learning curve to it.  Occasionally I plan out a deal and it doesn’t work just right or I end up paying more for something than I thought.  Don’t be afraid to learn the ropes and start doing deals.  But don’t beat yourself up if you make mistakes along the way.

What about you?  Do you super-coupon?  What websites/strategies do you use to find your deals?

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