How Much Should I be Saving?


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How Much Should You Be Saving?

Saving MoneyAs you may have guessed, I talk to a lot of people about coupons.  Regardless of how long somebody has been couponing, the conversation always turns to saving.  People want to know: How much should I be saving?  The answer to that question is:  it depends!  That said, we always try our best to provide you with benchmarks to help you gauge your savings relative to our experience.

It is probably most important to give you some advice before we get into the actual saving % and why they are achievable.  First, don’t come out of the box thinking you are going to be saving the big bucks!  If you are new to couponing, you need to focus on the basics first.  You need to begin to start building your stockpile.  When you first start building your stockpile, you are not going to save a lot of cash out of your pocket.  You will experience higher than average savings in terms of a percentage relative to your total, but you won’t start saving serious dollars until you have been doing this for 8-12 weeks.  So, tip number 1 is to focus on how much you are getting for your money, not what you are spending.

Do Have a Budget

This is probably a good time to jump off subject and tell you that you NEED to have a budget for your groceries.  Plan out how much money Saving Moneyyou are going to spend each month and DO NOT deviate from that amount.  In order for me to do that, I made the decision to only use cash for my groceries.  I allocate the amount that I am going to spend and then I withdraw that amount every other week when we get paid.  Once the cash is gone, the grocery shopping ends.  My goal is to always have cash left over from pay period to pay period.  So far, so good.  I get all of my groceries, stay within budget and have a little cash left over in case there is a really good sale somewhere or we want to celebrate with pizza night!  When we started this process, we were spending nearly $800 per month between groceries, personal care, cleaning supplies, etc.  We now budget $150 per month and that includes the $60 that I spend on my papers!

Have a Plan to Implement On Save

Back on task.  If you have seen What’s the Coupon Magic?, you know that I am a planner.  I plan my trips before I go to the store.  I plan the layout of my stockpile, I plan, I plan, I plan.  You absolutely have to plan in order to save the serious money.  You can’t just show up at the store with some coupons and think that you will save the big bucks.  It just won’t happen.  You will end up leaving things off of your list.  You will buy things you don’t have coupons for.  You will spend TOO MUCH MONEY!!!  Did you get the point of this paragraph?  You have to plan.

Now to the real meat of this article.  After you have been couponing for 8-12 weeks, you should be saving no less than 50% at the grocery stores and 65%-75% at the drug stores.  Now, the truth is that you very well may be getting those percentages in your first 8 weeks, but you are buying more product than you should need because you are starting your stockpile.  Once the stockpiling process is well under way, you will be able to taper back the number of items that you are buying on a weekly basis because you have already amassed a 12 week supply of many of your staple items.  At this point, you should be saving 65%-75% on your monthly budget.  Not only are you saving on the prices at the store, but you are not spending nearly as much to get what you need.  Now, that’s the Serious Coupon Magic!



Here are just a few bullet points to ponder as you are building up your savings:

  • Leverage BOGO sales with coupons as much as you possibly can.
  • Only do the deals at drug stores that give you product for free
  • The best drug store deals give you product for free AND pay you.
  • Plan your grocery orders to have overage so that you can use that overage on meat and produce.
  • Build up your Register Rewards so that you can use them on items that typically result in high out of pocket such as: meat, produce, toilet tissue, paper towels, diapers, etc.

I know that the list could go on and on and on, but the fact is that if you focus on those things, you will be well on your way.

As always, we appreciate your feedback!  Please email us with your questions, or you can leave them as a comment to this post.

~David

Comments

  1. Great article says

    Thanks for sharing so many good ideas about your couponing techniques. I hope you are planning a book in the future. I like how you budget for your groceries. Would love to know how you got started in this venture, I think there must be astory there as well, and what do the other 29 of you do to contribute to the Wizard World?

    • The Wizard says

      There are only 4 of us if you can believe it. We just have a pretty good system and division of responsibility. Two of us are in Tampa and the other two are in Savannah.

  2. When you say build up your register rewards so you can use them on items like meat etc. Well, Publix won’t accept register rewards. What exactly are you meaning by this?

    • The Wizard says

      Publix absolutely will take Register Rewards. Register Rewards are manufacturer’s coupons, not store coupons. I have used them in Publix for over 2 years with no problem. You can use them in any store that will take printed Catalina coupons. The manufacturer’s reimburse the store that redeems the coupons, not the store that printed it. As an ex-store manager I can verify that this is correct based on my coupon reconciliation reports. I would talk to the management in your store if they are refusing to accept them and find out why. The Register Rewards say “Redeemable at Walgreens” but do not say “Must Redeem at Walgreens”. The also specifically state Manufacturer’s coupon on the top and the bar code starts with a 5 which is reserved for manufacturer’s coupons. The biggest obstacle I have had to overcome when using them at various stores is just getting the cashier to scan them. Once they scan them and see that they go through, there are no issues.

  3. So, wait – I can use RR from Walgreens at a grocery store, like Giant Eagle? (That’s where I do my shopping.) Is that right? Man, if that’s the case, I’m going to have to kick myself for not knowing sooner.

  4. oh my!!! how I wish I had someone to help me with this. I am such a hands-on person
    and it makes more sense to me if I have someone with me and guiding me. None of my friends are
    into this and they have no clue

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