Sooo....I wanted to find another way to "contribute". Groceries are really the only thing I have sole financial control over so I started to look into couponing.
I struggled with the concept at first. I have tried it before and became quickly frustrated when I would go to the store with my coupon and realize that the generic brand was still cheaper. I was also hesitant because I didn't want to go to 2 stores a day or spend hours flipping through coupons.
I decided to give it a good old college try for a month and see what I could do.
Here is what I learned:
1. www.krazycouponlady.com does all the work for you. I go on this site every night and write down the deals that appeal to me categorized by store and date it expires. Then I wait til the last day possible to get all the deals at once. She even gives you links to all the coupons you will need to print
2. You have to be okay with investing. Places like Target will give you a giftcard for 10$ for buying 40$ worth of diapers. Walgreens, Rite-aid and CVS-will give you money on your rewards card toward your next purchase. I like not having to pay as much upfront, so this was an adjustment for me realizing that I would have a few extra dollars for free next time.
3. A coupon is not a good deal, a coupon and a sale, or 2 coupons and a sale-that's good deal. This is where the running from store to store comes in. You have to follow the sales. That is why I started making a list from each store, then I decide if the deals were really worth my effort to go to that store.
4. Ya gotta know your stuff. After chasing these deals for awhile, I started to wonder if I should get rid of my Costco membership. I started an excel sheet comparing not just the price per item, but the price per ounce, or per unit. For instance, I found a great deal on paper towels that I was excited about. Then I calculated price per actual paper towel and I realized that I had made a poor choice-costco would have still been better. I guess that is all really trial and error though.
5. I hate Walmart and try to stay away from them as much as possible... That's all I have to say about that :)
6. Snap, Ibotta and Checkout51-I guess this goes back to investing but all these places will give you money back for buying certain items (ex: .25 cents back for buying apples). Every Wednesday, they load a new list of items. If you buy them that week, you take a picture of your receipt and once you hit 20$ you can ask for your check. I am at 4$, but I know other people that have gotten some good checks from it.
Anyway, those are my thoughts. I am definitely not to the point where I am sleeping on free toilet paper, but maybe one day. I have to admit it has been really fun figuring this all out and there are loads of online resources to help out if you want to give it a try.