The main secret to my success is the blog www.southernsavers.com . The blogger, Jenny, posts every week with the grocery sales and she lists the matching coupons. The best way to save is to only buy what is on sale and then use a coupon on top of the sale price. Like this week, Birds Eye frozen vegetables were on sale for 50% off. That made certain varieties 0.90. And then I had a 50 cents off coupon which Publix doubled so I got $1.00 off making the veggies FREE plus I got a .10 overage. Jenny does most grocery stores we have in the south, not just Publix. But, I do almost all of my shopping at Publix (for many reasons) because they double coupons 0.50 and less, they take internet coupons and they let you stack store coupons and manufacturers coupons (this means if I have a Publix coupon for green beans and a Green Giant coupon for green beans, I can use BOTH on ONE package of green beans and save twice!). I get my coupons from the Sunday paper and various online sources. I have started buying 4 copies of the Sunday paper- down here the AJC puts out a Saturday night version of the Sunday paper and a Sunday morning version. On Sunday mornings you can buy both papers together- called a Double Edition- for $3.00. So we buy two double editions for $6. I save the coupon inserts in their entirety- I do not clip the coupons immediately. I keep all of the inserts organized by month in a milk crate file (pictured below). When there is a coupon that matches a sale item, Jenny will list which coupon insert it came from (either SS-Smart Source or RP-Red Plum) and the date. So, each week I check her blog to see what is on sale and then I go to my file and clip the coupons I need for that week. She also lists the online coupons that match up with the sale items and she has a link. I could go on and on- like you make sure you buy enough of a sale item to last your family 6 weeks as that is the sale cycle here in the south or making sure to print coupons at the first of the month for things you may want to buy because the companies have a print quota, but instead I highly, highly, highly, highly recommend watching Jenny's tutorial videos here. They explain everything really well and they are only a few minutes long.
This is how I organize my coupons
For CVS, the way to save is to use their Extra Care Bucks (ECB). Each week, items will be on sale AND will earn you ECB. The first week you shop, you will spend more out of pocket because you are starting with 0 ECBs. You buy items that are on sale, that you have coupons for and that will earn you ECB. For example, this week, Stayfree maxi pads were $3.99 and earned you $2 in ECB. So, I bought 2 packs totaling $7.98. Then I used a Buy 1 Get 1 Free coupon and a $2 off coupon- so that subtracted $5.99. If I was starting with 0 ECB then I pay $1.99, plus tax, for two packages of Stayfree- or if I already have $2 ECB I can pay with those and pay nothing out of pocket- and on the bottom of my receipt I got $4 ECB for buying 2 packs of Stayfree. This is just like having $4 cash that you can use to buy anything at CVS. So, with this method, you sometimes end up buying things you don't need right now, but will use eventually- like you may not need toothpaste right now, but if it is on sale and you have a coupon and you get ECB so you get it for free or almost free, then you buy it anyway and just keep it in the bathroom closet until you need it. Or you may remember my post last week where I bought a blood glucose meter. I don't have diabetes and don't need a blood glucose meter- but I had a coupon for up to $30 off, which made it free, and buying it earned me ECB that I then used to buy diapers. So, I got FREE diapers and a blood glucose meter for free that I can donate to a shelter. My CVS goal each week is to get things for as close to free as possible by using coupons and spending the ECBs that I have, while also making sure to earn back the ECBs I just spent. May sound confusing, but it's actually quite simple. On the blog, Jenny lists all of the ECB deals for the week, the matching coupons, and her shopping plan to earn the most ECB and spend the least out of pocket. I generally use her plan, unless I don't have the proper coupons or if there is something we need that isn't in her plan and then I make my own.
Ok, so that is basically what I do (minus some important tips that Jenny explains better then me.... did I mention that I highly recommend her tutorials?!?!?). Hope this helps everyone save lots of money! Let me know if you have any questions!