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Coach Mom Newsletter - May 2010

Craving Some Savings

The other day two young boys walked into a grocery store, picked up a box of Tampax off the paper goods aisle and walked to the check-out counter.

The man at the counter asked the older boy, “Son how old are you?”

“Eight,” the boy replied.  The man continued, “Do you know how these are used?”

The boy replied, “Not exactly, but they aren’t for me.  They are for my brother — he’s four.  We saw on TV that if you use these you would be able to swim and ride a bike.  He can’t do either one.

That story, which I received over email, made me laugh about grocery shopping.  But as a mom, I haven’t done much laughing when it comes to shopping with young children.  By the end of the shopping-trip-gone-long, the newborn was usually screaming for her next feeding, and the two-year old potty-trainer was simultaneously saying, “I have to go…NOW!” (of course at the corner of the store opposite the bathroom!)

But one thing that does make me smile is seeing something like this on my grocery receipt: “You saved 55% today.” That sight has been more frequent since I implemented an organized coupon system.

Organizing Coupons

If you are interested in maximizing your coupon efforts, I hope you will consider using this efficient system my friend Angie Bowsher shared with me:

1. Make a coupon notebook:

a. Buy a notebook (1 ½-2 inch binder, preferably zippered)

b. Buy dividers, and label them according to subject, which reflects sections in the store (see suggestions in sidebar).

c. Place clear baseball card holders in each section to hold coupons.

2. Gather coupons:

a. Newspaper Coupons –

     i. Buy multiple newspapers - 2-4, or however many you need. 

    ii. Collate coupon sections, so that each like sheet is stacked together. For each cut you make, you are able to cut multiple copies of the same coupon.

   iii. Place each set of cut coupons in a baseball card holder sleeve in the appropriate section.  This keeps identical coupons together, and easy to see.

b. Internet Coupons –

     i. Get free coupons from websites such as coupons.com, smartsource.com, shortcuts.com, cellfire.com, and coolsavings.com.

    ii. Also get savings tips from the following websites, which will link you to free coupons: Mysavings.com, mygrocerydeals.com, couponcravings.com, coupontodisney.com and groupon.com.

   iii. Manufacturers' websites are a great source for coupons for products you frequently use.

c. Other Sources for Coupons – Some grocery stores run “$5 off any $50 purchase” in local coupon books such as The Entertainment Book. 

Key To Maximizing Your Coupon Savings –

Wait for items to go on sale, and use multiple coupons when stores are doubling or tripling coupons.  If you join a coupon group, such as The Grocery Game, they will do the research for you (for a small monthly fee) and alert you to sale/coupon opportunities. Other sites, such as mygrocerydeals.com, offers many of the same benefits for free.

For example, a box of cereal that is regularly $3.99 is on sale for $2.50.  Using a 35-cent coupon during a triple coupon sale makes the item $1 off.  The $3.99 box of cereal sells for $1.50 cents.

Many grocery stores will allow four of the same coupon per visit. If a person bought four boxes of cereal with coupons, she would walk out the door with cereal valued at $15.96 for $6.00. 

On shopping day, take your notebook and a clothespin to keep coupons clipped together as you pull them from your notebook to use.

Although I can’t promise you anything about swimming or riding a bike, I can promise you there is some fruit to be gleaned, and not just from the produce section. It’s found on the money tree located inside Sunday’s newspaper: coupons.

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Ask Coach Mom

Dear Brenna,

I know you talk about the benefits of coupons, but I’m so overwhelmed with life in general that I don’t know what to do. I have a newborn, a two-year-old and a four-year-old. I’m doing good to just get a shower each day (and sometimes can’t even get to that!) I love a deal, and it makes me feel defeated to know what I’m missing out on. Please share with me how I can make this work!


Dear Brittany,

This is not the season for you to deal with coupons. You can get to that if you choose when your children are older and able to do more for themselves. My friend Angie was after me to do coupons for years before I finally jumped in, which wasn’t until my youngest child got out of diapers. Making the most of coupons requires a time investment each week of at least 1-2 hours, and if you can’t give that, then wait until you can.

My advice to you in this season?

Plan your menu. You might look at grocery ads as you do this, in order to take advantage of great sales. Wal-Mart will match grocery store sale prices on identical items if you present the current ad at time of purchase. Be sure to check what you already have in your pantry as you make your list.

Go without children. When my children were young, I had one day a week that I ran all my errands. I either traded off with a friend who wanted to do the same, or hired a sitter when I was able.  Walking down the isles of the grocery store by myself almost felt like a spa getaway in those days!

Shop at a place that is known for low prices across the board. A word about warehouse shopping: don’t assume because you are buying “bulk” that you are getting the lowest price available. Warehouse prices are good compared to most normal retail prices on name brands, but you can often do better at grocery stores sales or on store-brand products. Things that I’ve found to be a good value at warehouses: produce, dairy products, vitamins, rotisserie chickens, and some snack foods.

Take your list, and stick to it. My friend Debbie created her own grocery shopping list sheet on the computer, listing items by sections in the store.  She prints off the list and only has to make a check next to the item when she sees that she has a grocery need. Many of the shopping websites allow you to make your list and print it off from their website. Another option is writing what you need under the appropriate category, such as produce, dairy, etc.

If you retain anything, remember the part about going without children. J


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Want to Learn More?

Want to know how to save more money in your grocery shopping?

Listen to two great interviews from Focus on the Family featuring Jonni McCoy, author of Miserly Moms: Living Well on Less in a Tough Economy.

Part 1: http://www.listen.family.org/daily/A000002301.cfm

Part 2: http://www.listen.family.org/daily/A000002302.cfm

Check Brenna's blog for her latest entry ... coming soon - a discussion on restaurant.com.