Never used a coupon before?  No worries!  You’ve come to the right place.  You’ll soon learn not only where to find coupons, but how to organize them, use them properly and get in the game of saving lots of money.

Have you used coupons before but only sporadically, saving maybe a few dollars here and there?  Again, no problem!  You will soon be wondering why you waited so long to maximize your savings.  You will learn to shave up to 50% or more off of your grocery bill with a few helpful tips and tricks.

But first, the number one thing I tell those who are new to couponing or have only been “casual” couponers is this:

You will have to entirely rethink the way you shop!

Before I started really getting serious about coupons,  I would run out of items quite often.  I’d just put it on my weekly grocery list and then hope and pray that it was discounted at my favorite supermarket that week (usually it wasn’t).  Looking through the weekly sale ad, I’d also add to my list a few items that were on sale that seemed to be a fairly decent price that week.

I would quickly scan through the coupons from my Sunday paper, only cutting out coupons that were for products I needed that week and tossing aside the rest.  Those coupons would make it to the store with me, but often an item would not be on sale when I used a coupon for it.  So really I was only saving a few dollars here and there.  My idea of shopping smart was to head over to my local warehouse store and buy items in bulk (where there are no sales and no opportunities to use coupons).

Since learning to “super coupon” I have learned that that is entirely the wrong way to use coupons and to shop!!

On the other hand, many people see shows like “Extreme Couponing” and think they can just go to their favorite store and get everything they need for the week for free with coupons.  The truth is there ARE free things available almost every week, but everything you and your family use is NOT going to be free with coupons all at once, not this week, not next week, not ever.

Other misconceptions about “Extreme Couponing” are that you need to have a massively huge stockpile, spend countless hours clipping coupons and pretty much become obsessed to save a lot of money.  It’s just not true!

So what’s the secret to saving serious money on your grocery bill?  It’s this:

Sales run in cycles, and you must stock up on an item your family uses to last until the next sale cycle!

For me this idea really took some getting used to.  I had never thought about sale “cycles” before (or stocking up for that matter), but once I got into this mindset things suddenly became much easier and my savings gradually grew.

What I learned is a sale on a particular item will usually run in 6-12 week cycles.  So if item A is on sale today, usually in 6-12 weeks (sometimes more, sometimes less) item A will be on sale again!  How did I not know this before?!  Somehow I thought that grocery stores just randomly picked things to be on sale for a particular week – nope!

So how could I use this new info?  I realized that those who are dough savvy:

Wait for a sale on a particular item and get at least a 6-12 week supply.

And those who are extremely dough savvy definitely:

Use coupons and store discounts (like store coupons and rewards cards) on top of a great sale to get that 6-12 week supply for super cheap or even FREE! 

Like it or not, stockpiling is the key to saving money.  Many people get scared when they hear the word “stockpile.”  Thoughts of rooms full of groceries and supplies overwhelming one’s home come to mind.  Really all you need to do is clean out your pantry and cabinets and make some extra room.  Remember, you just need a 6-12 week supply to save money!  There is absolutely NO need to get extreme.  There is no need to stock up on 10 years worth of toilet paper (or anything else for that matter)!  Just a 6-12 week supply will save you BUNDLES of money!

It is also helpful to note that it is going to take you a while to build up a nice stockpile.  Again, you want to wait for a sale, combine it with a coupon, see what store promotions/coupons are available and stock up!  Everything will not be available at a good stock-up price all at once, so it will take a few months to build up a healthy stockpile.  At first you may actually be spending a bit MORE money at the store as you buy your extra stock-up items.  In the long run though you will be saving a lot of money and soon you will see your weekly grocery bill shrink dramatically.

If you run out of room in your pantry you can always add an extra shelving unit to an out of the way area in your home.  That’s all the extra space you probably will ever need depending on the size of your family and how much you want to stock up.

The next thing I had to worry about is how often our family goes through items, and again, I really never paid too much attention (if at all) to that before.  Like I said…run out…put on list…hope and pray.

I started keeping track of everything we used and how often:  One bag of coffee a week, two boxes of cereal a month, one bottle of shampoo every three weeks, etc.  I even started writing the date of purchase on items with a permanent marker to help me keep track – I was determined to get the hang of this!

Sure enough, it didn’t take long before I knew exactly what a 6-12 week supply of a particular item looked like for our family.  How fast you and your family go through items obviously depends on different factors, but generally families go through items at pretty much the same rate of speed over and over again.

I also had to start paying attention to expiration dates.  Some things have surprisingly long expiration dates.  Other things expire quickly.  It pays to become familiar with how long things usually last, whether or not they be frozen, etc.  You can use this handy chart for help.  It takes a little work, but you really must:

 Pay close attention to what your family uses, how much of it they use and how quickly it expires!

Most people think (as I did) that it’s all about the sales and the coupons.  While those things certainly are very important, really it’s more important that to develop a different mindset.  I had to develop a “big picture mindset” when it came to shopping.  So ask yourself:

What will my family need in the upcoming MONTHS, not just this week?  What meals do I make over and over again that I could stock up on ingredients for?

I also recommend starting a price list of things you use so that you will be able to spot a good deal when you see one.  Make sure to note the unit cost of an item so that you can easily compare different sizes and see how much you are really spending for an item.  A price list will also help you to compare warehouse prices with grocery store prices to see if you are really getting a good deal or not when you buy in bulk at a warehouse.

Now comes the fun part – it’s time to get started!  With just a little bit of extra effort every week, you can literally shave off thousands (yep thousands) from your grocery bill each year!

Learn to be so dough savvy in 3 easy steps:

Also, don’t forget to follow a local coupon blog like So Dough Savvy to keep up with the latest deals and coupon matchups in your area every week.  Coupon blogs help you save time and money!

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