June 22, 2010

One month!

Happy one month anniversary to us!! We are choosing to celebrate any and every milestone and I can't believe its already been a month. It's still so fun to be sharing a home with my best friend, even with all the learning and compromising that's going on. I don't particularly love going to sleep while the drums are being tuned and I miss having my sweet cat curled up next to me at night (why must my husband have allergies??), but I know Adam couldn't care less about watching anything on Bravo and he may or may not literally lose his mind if I keep untucking the sheets on his side of the bed. But, we kind of like each other and all, and we make it work :)

The house is slowly but surely coming together, but don't you dare even think about going in the spare room. You may never be seen again... Our upcoming projects include painting and getting some more pictures up on the walls. Still needs some work, but its home! We welcome visitors!

I have officially passed the point of no return when it comes to couponing, which is one of the reasons I even wanted to start this thing. I get SO inspired by the money-saving blogs I read every day, and I wanted to encourage my family and friends as well! Over the weekend I created my coupon binder and I will definitely follow up with a more detailed explanation of how I'm using it once I get a feel for things and see how I can use it most effectively. But for those of you who are interested in getting started, here is some of my best advice for beginners (which was me just a few short months ago! If I can coupon while planning a wedding, you can do it, too!)

1. Buy at least TWO Sunday papers for the weekly coupon inserts (although some weeks there aren't any inserts, usually on holiday weekends). I always want *at least* two copies of every coupon because when stores run "buy one get one" sales you can use a coupon for both the item you're paying for AND the free item. Also, ask around and see if your friends, families, or co-workers would be willing to give you their coupon inserts (I am lucky enough to have my mom send me her leftover coupons and my step mother-in-law does the same! I also swipe them from the paper we get at my office. haha)
2. Don't shop at Wal-Mart unless you absolutely have to. Since couponing, I've only needed to go to Wal-Mart once (in about 4 months). Besides my own personal dislike for Wal-Mart, its important for you to know that you will spend SO MUCH MORE money shopping there. Trust me on this one. Plus, its always so crazy busy, I hate waiting in the long checkout lines, and REALLY hate running back and forth from side to side when I forget things...
3. Find a local grocery store that doubles coupons. Here in the Chattanooga area both Bi-Lo and Publix double coupons daily. If you are in the area and shop at Bi-Lo, be sure to hang on to your receipt and take the online survey listed at the bottom. Each month Bi-Lo offers a different free item when you complete the survey. In the past few months these items have included tomato paste, manadarin organges, and this month is was Bi-Lo brand 2 liters (which are GREAT for taking to church events). I would say that I've gotten 6 or so free 2 liters this month.
4. 95% of the time I only buy things when they are on a great sale AND I have a coupon for that item (the only things that I break this rule for are milk, maybe eggs, etc). This really isn't a tip, more like a goal...
5. Products are usually at their "rock bottom" price every 10-12 weeks. When something is an incredible deal, buy enough to last you and your family 3-4 months. This way you'll NEVER pay full price for anything and when you run out of something you can go "shopping" in your own home stockpile!
6. This is kind of a no-brainer, but something that does take a little change in planning. Base your meals on what's on sale for the week in combination with what you already have. This will cause you to have to think creatively AND possibly work with new ingredients/cuts of meat, which I really enjoy!
7. This isn't really a coupon tip, but just a money-saving piece of advice. Put a little effort into your food. Buy fresh produce when its on sale and cut it up/cook it yourself. Stop paying extra for boneless skinless chicken breasts and buy bone-in split chicken breasts. Cut the meat off yourself, and then make your own homemade, preservative-free, low-sodium chicken stock in the crock pot using the bones (and some veggies, seasoning).
8. Get organized and look online for helpful websites/blogs. These have been SO important to me and have given me leads on the best deals. I do my own coupon match-ups, but the blogs I read have given me a heads up on some awesome sales I may have missed on my own. **You can find the links for some of the blogs I read at the bottom of this page.**
9. Request samples online because they usually will send a coupon with the sample. These coupons are usually high-value AND they most likely will have an expiration date forever away.
10. Contact the companies that have products that you enjoy. Most of the time they will send you coupons or free samples! A few months ago I probably got coupons from 40 or so companies simply because I emailed them and said "I like your product!". It was like Christmas in my mailbox...

Okie doke! There's your homework assignments! More to come on the aforementioned and fabulous coupon binder. Have a great day! Eat a piece of cake or kiss your spouse one extra time in our honor today. As for us, we will celebrate with salmon for dinner :)

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