Thanks to Jill for sharing how she raises teenage boys on coupons!
As a non-extravagant, home-owning, single mom to three boys I find managing finances to be difficult. We go places, do things, see things and have full lives because I use coupons.
I am not just a couponer though. I am a deal-seeking couponer; I use coupons for items that are on sale.
You can call it frugal, cheap, thrifty, prudent or economical, but I call it resourceful.
In a nutshell, I use coupons for darn near everything. Here are a few tips:
I use Facebook. But, I am picky. Sometimes the advertising can be overwhelming and seriously annoying, but if I only “like” the pages that I truly like it can be rewarding. Free Oreo cookies, $1 movie popcorn, $1 movies, free eggs… Plus, a lot of brands often offer coupons.
Groceries. I spend around $200 per month on groceries. Using coupons, of course. I have learned almost all of what I know from Carrie on SpringsBargains.com and Grocery University. That comment about a quarter of the way down the home page of GU is me!
Goodwill. Shop Goodwill for “costumes.” My boys are famous for reciting the night-before “I need [insert something big and involved here] for tomorrow” speech. The most recent was, “I need a full Italian Immigrant costume including mustache… for tomorrow”. Thus far, the Goodwill has come to the rescue in a big way each time! I bought the full immigrant costume which included shoes, pants, shirt, coat and tie for $35 and it was PERFECT. Sometimes the Goodwill even offers coupons or special sale days.
Birthday clubs. August happens to be my birthday month and just the other day I opened my e-mail to six separate birthday offers. Most of them offered free items; Cold Stone Creamery (yum), Dairy Queen… Join the birthday club for the places where you will redeem a coupon for a free item.
For baby shower gifts, I stock up on diapers and wipes, using coupons, when they are on special to make a diaper cake, or two. On many occasions, first time parents will get all of the necessities from family, and second or third time parents already have most of what they need. Except diapers and wipes!
Buy AND USE the Entertainment Book. Every year at least one of my boys has a fundraiser selling the Entertainment Book. I used to tuck it away in the book shelf and forget about it. Then I became a deal-seeking couponer. One day, when I actually remembered the book and pulled out movie theater coupons, my son – who goes to the movies often – said “hey, how come you never let me use those?” Yep, that’s my boy.
Camping. Camping is still free at a lot of places. I recently took the boys camping and we had a great time. It is awesome for bonding because there are NO distractions. Well, except for playful beavers building dams in the night.
Junk mail isn’t necessarily junk. You might think it is trash, but there are coupons in there people! Sure, Little Caesar’s has $5 large pizzas every day, but there is a coupon that gives you free breadsticks with a $5 pizza. This was definitely enough to feed all four of us!
Costco. In addition to shopping at Costco for specific items, I get gas there. It is usually around 10 cents cheaper per gallon. I live really close so it is convenient.
Photo frames. Michael’s often has coupons in their Sunday newspaper insert so I watch their ad for photo frame sales. I generally buy frames when I don’t need them and keep stock; like groceries. :)
Loyalty programs. I sign up for loyalty programs for places that I frequent: car washes, hair salons and restaurants. At the car wash, I get $3.00 off every time I get a car wash and the 10th wash is FREE. Fantastic Sam’s e-mails coupons for services every month and restaurants (Qdoba, Chili’s…) e-mail coupons and specials too.
Sporting event tickets. If I am unable to get tickets from friends or work I will buy them from scalpers just before game time. They are MUCH cheaper and just before game time – no haggling is necessary.
Dollar Tree. I shop Dollar Tree for $1 newspapers on weekends where I need to stock up the coupons. I also go there for gift bags, tissue paper, sand toys for the lake and frozen popsicles.
Massage? Occasionally, I indulge! If I am paying, I use a local massage school. It is $25 for an hour-long massage. AND, if you are on their mailing list, or live in the neighborhood they mail coupons for BOGO FREE so I grab a friend and it is $12.50 for an hour. No tipping allowed. SCORE!
For house stuff (painting, landscaping, electric…) I use friends when possible. If I can’t find anyone, ask around for referrals. In my opinion, it is better to have the company painting my house come from a friend’s referral than a phone book or search engine, ya know?
My boys know the value of a dollar and I never miss an opportunity to remind them about living in the moment. I just ask them to pass the fun and frugality on to their own kids. (Someday. In the far, FAR away future.)
Jill is a single mother living in Colorado with her three sons. She works full time, functions as CFO, maid, psychologist, chauffer and coach, and specializes in maximizing her income through smart, careful budgeting and cost-saving strategies. Check out her blog, Single Mom On A Budget.
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Welcome to Springs Bargains, a service of our real estate business, Circa Real Estate Group! I’m Carrie, and since 2008 I’ve been sharing free and discounted ways to eat, play, and enjoy life in Colorado Springs.