“It takes too much stinkin’ TIME!!!”
I hear this all the time from friends who want to save money, but are worried about the time commitment it takes to do it. Being a great bargain hunter does take a little time, but planned the right way it can be SO SiMpLe! Here are a few guidelines to get you started on Simple Savings that will really add up:
Simplifying Deals Tip #1:
Find a store you love, is convenient to your location, and stick with it. There are so many great deals out there, you really cannot track each one down without spending more on gas and time than it’s worth – so keep it simple! In Utah, the best places to buy household products (TP, Cleaners, Makeup, toothpaste, shampoo, bodywashes, razors, over the counter meds) are at the Drugstores. They have great markdowns and reward programs that give you in store credit to use on your next purchase. The catch? Just make sure you buy the things you need and not a lot of extras just because they’re cheap. Keep it simple!
If you live in Utah, I suggest shopping at Rite Aid (we’ll post a list here for you each week with the deals and coupons to use on them). While Walgreens is a great store, I find their reward program causes me to buy extra little items as fillers and I spend more time trying to figure out what to buy first so I can use my reward next. Rite Aid’s policy is much easier. I find that if I stick with one small store, I know it well within a few weeks, and that speeds up my trips. Be super nice to your cashiers!!! It will pay you back time and again if they like you! Again, just get the things your family will need. I definitely build a stockpile, and I do buy things that I know we won’t use if they are cheap or free – but I have a donation box in my garage so they never even come in the house. Don’t go overboard feeling like you have to get everything in the store that is on sale with a coupon matchup.
Simplifying Deals Tip #2:
Remember that if you have to drive 5 miles out of your way to save $.02 on a roll of toilet paper, you didn’t really save any money (or time!). One way I found to stock up is shopping online! If you find a good deal you can buy in bulk online – Get it! The more items you can shop for from home, the better for you, you’re car, and your time. Becky is a great deal finder for household items on Amazon and she’ll show you how to get them shipped for free, in most cases. Personally I think toilet paper is a great example of something you can buy online to simplify your deal finding. YES, you can get great deals on TP if you use every coupon that comes out and hit a different store every week, but in our family of 5 we go through so much TP that it is just simpler to just use Amazon for this item. Not that I’m going to pay the regular Amazon price though! If you “like” UtahSweetSavings on facebook we’ll let you know when it’s on sale (Yup! Amazon has sales) AND you can clip an online coupon for it – so you still score a sweet deal. Read about how to use Amazon best for you.
Simplifying Deals Tip #3:
Groceries – Sigh… Okay we eat a lot of food in our family and we are picky about what we eat. There are lots of great grocery deals, but again, if you are running to a different store every day to get the freebies it can be time consuming. Instead of planning a menu and then going shopping, do it the other way around. Take a look at what’s on sale this week and what coupons you have. (We’ll help with this too!) Stick to the store you love, get their freebies each week and plan what you can make with that. Since we are picky, I find that cooking from scratch is still my best bet for cheap, healthy foods. However, I use my coupons to fill in any ingredients that will store and that I can incorporate into my homemade foods. My favorite grocery store is Smiths. First, because I really dislike going to multiple stores – and they are close to my house. Second, because aside from groceries they have really great deals on household products too. Third – Rewards Program! For every $10 I spend at Smith’s (before coupons), I’m going to get $.10/gallon of gas. I don’t do a lot of driving (since I stick with 2 stores that are close to my home) and I generally can get a full $1/gallon off each time I fill up. Check our site each week and we’ll show you the best deals to get at Smith’s before you head in.
Becky takes it one step further. While she is at Smiths she will pick up an Amazon gift card. She gets the rewards for buying the gift card and then gets amazing deals on Amazon. Win – Win! Gas rewards and Amazon prices!
Simplifying Deals Tip #4:
Newspapers – There are TONS of examples where your newspaper will pay you back time and time again, plus save you additional money through the coupons that come on Sunday. If you have a large family, you’ll want more than one subscription – as 1 free can of tomato sauce won’t go very far for a family of 5! If you have 1 newspaper for each member of your family, you should be pretty well stocked. We’ve chatted with the local Utah newspapers and negotiated some great deals for our readers!
Simplifying Deals Tip #5:
Printable coupons – You’ll notice we post lots of printable coupons that pop up throughout the week. If there is a store that has a sale on that item, we’ll post that too. If the coupon is for a product you know your family will use, but it’s not on sale at a store you shop at, print the coupon anyway and hang on to it. If you know you are going to buy that item, you’ll want to save $$ – and your coupon will usually be good for 30 days from the date you print it – giving you time to wait for a deal. Many times, if you wait for a deal to come along before you print your coupon, the coupon will no longer be available. If you don’t have your printer hooked up to your computer, go ahead and click print – your coupon will print for you the next time you plug in. Most coupons can be printed twice per computer (just click the “back” button twice after you print and it will automatically print again.) If you have laptops for several family members, take advantage of the extra coupons you can print with an extra computer. I send my husband links all the time to coupons I want him to print while he’s at school. (Most of the links we have on our site will take you directly to the coupon, so send your hubby the link to our post and hopefully he’ll be willing to print for you!)
Simplifying Deals Tip #6:
Clipping your coupons – There are some great ways to clip and sort your coupons that will keep you organized so you can take all your coupons with you to the store. You’ll find great unadvertised deals in the clearance endcaps of stores and if you have all your coupons with you, you will find some of the best deals – without making an extra trip to have the right coupons with you.
If you want to go even simpler, or if you don’t shop often enough to make your time worth clipping and sorting, you can always keep one notebook with sheet covers and slip the entire coupon insert into the sheet cover with the date printed on the front. We’ll always let you know which week and insert the coupon came from so you can find it quickly when you make your list.
*Some of my favorite deal shopping experiences:
Last summer I moved from Pennsylvania to Nevada. I found out in January I would be moving and stopped shopping to save space in the moving truck and focus my time on packing. Because I had a great stock pile (about 4 months of good deal shopping) I did not have to go to the store once between January and May for anything other than fresh produce, dairy and baked goods. The work I had put into my shopping when I had the time to do it – made a busy time SOO much easier because we were well stocked. After the move, I was still stocked up enough that again I did not shop until about August. EIGHT months of NO shopping! It was a great break to get settled and organized. At the end of August I was down to my last 2 tubes of toothpaste and hit it hard again, shopping my stores weekly and stocking up for about 4 months. Then I got pregnant and along comes morning sickness. I again was able to stop shopping and live off my stockpile until I felt well enough to head out. It is a great way to simplify your life when you need it and save TONS of money.
My mom has split her newspaper subscription with a neighbor and they pass the coupon notebook back and forth since both are busy. Usually they do 3 months on and 3 months off. Just find a level that works well for you and don’t feel like you have to get every deal. Online deals save time, money and gas, so take advantage of those when you can!
As students we have a pretty tight budget for a family of 5 – so we love taking advantage of the fact that with deal shopping we can afford to donate. We keep a box in the garage of items we are unlikely to use or have stored more than we can use. We also check our medicines (which are often free) and anything expiring in the next 6 months we donate. If we know a family in need or even when we have other students over we let them “shop” from our box or we will donate it to a homeless shelter or our Bishop and assume he’ll find someone who can use it.
Since we started using Amazon and coupons our standard of living has gone up and I’ve been able to use nicer brands of laundry detergent, toothpaste and shampoo, etc. We even ditched the bar soap for shaving cream and bodywash, while still cutting our budget in half!
You can see how it all adds up – We were asked by Studio 5 to see just how far you could make $100 go – take a look! – this can be so much fun.
Take a deep breath and ENJOY your savings experience. We’re here to keep it fun and SiMpLe. I’m so excited you’ve found UtahSweetSavings! Please share our site and deals with your friends and like us on facebook, sign up for our newsletter or follow us on twitter. We love to find great deals and share them with you!