One thing I have heard and read quite often lately is that people want to become better at using coupons, but they just don't know how. They look at websites like this and others and they get confused...
"OYNO"? "Catalina"? "WYB"? "Blinkies"? What in the world are those and why do I seem to be the only person who doesn't know what they mean? (FYI: "on your next order", the coupon that prints out from that extra machine next to the register at most stores, "when you buy" and those little coupon dispensers that often appear in the aisles)
Let me tell you this...anyone who says that you can easily go from spending $200/week to $50/week on groceries is either lying or trying to sell you something. It is a process. It takes time to not only learn what is and isn't allowed at the stores (and which cashiers are going to give you a hard time and which aren't), but also to get over any possible fear or "guilt" you may have over walking out of the store with so much for so little money. Some can do it almost immediately.....more will see their grocery bill gradually go down each week until they are consistently savings 60-95% each week (I spent $31, $19 under my budgeted $50, last week to feed my family of 5).
And one other thing: not every week is a good week at the grocery store, even for me.
So how can you get started?
1. Get your coupons organized. I spoke about my coupon organization here and there is a fabulous video of the same system (the binder system) here. Of course, there is The Couponizer that so many people love!
2. In almost all cases, menu planning is the key to saving money. That doesn't mean that you have to have a schedule from which you will not waver, but a "general idea" is a necessity. If you find a great recipe online and decide that you want to try it that night, chances are you will end up paying full retail for the ingredients. I have a whole notebook full of recipes and just you wait until I hit that next Philadelphia Cream Cheese sale....it will be Cheesecake For Everyone in the neighborhood!
3. Decide what approach you want to take to couponing. Do you have a large pantry or an extra freezer that you can stock with the good deals? Do you have limited space and need to limit the amount of "stuff" you bring in? If you stockpile (as I do), you can base your menus based on what you have on hand (with a few produce and dairy additions from that week's shopping). If you have limited space, you may need to go through your circulars, see what is on sale and plan your menus from that (FYI - this method is FAR more time consuming, in my opinion)
4. Print off the "best deals list" from my site (if you are shopping at the stores that I list) or from your other favorite sites and take them with you! You don't have to worry about price comparing every deal in the store. After a few months of doing that, it will come naturally. You'll know, for example, that when you see Apple Juice on a temporary price cut for $1.50 that it is time to stock up (even if you don't have a coupon)
5. If at all possible, try to do your shopping alone in the beginning. With 3 kids under the age of 8, I know that this is easier said than done. But the less distractions you have, the better!
After that, it's just a matter of clipping your coupons and following the deals.
And don't worry....you WILL get better (even those of you who live in The Land Of No Double Coupons!)