Bargains to Bounty: The Best Couponing Website to Create a Surplus
My Couponing Stockpile
Couponing is all the rage, but it has been around forever. My Mom used coupons. She watched the sales ads. She tried her best to make our money go as far as possible. I cannot say for sure that couponing has actually changed, but it has been brought to our attention. With TLC’s show, Extreme Couponing, people are looking at couponing in a new light.
Starting to Coupon
I decided to be a stay at home mom back in March, 2005. That is when my first set of twins were born. I had another set 17 months later. I was busy trying to maintain my kids’ needs. I think I was paying attention to sales. Ok, I probably wasn’t. I do recall saying to my husband, if I could figure out how to NOT feed these kids, we could save so much money!
In April 2011, I watched an episode of Extreme Couponing. I had a few reactions to the show. Not all were favorable. What I did adopt from this show was figuring out how to use coupons to save money. These couponers were extreme and at times, too extreme for me.
I started researching coupon blogs and figuring out how to coupon in my area. It was overwhelming to begin. Then it became a mindset. Now it is just the way I approach shopping.
I am not going in depth on how to coupon, but I will hit the highlights.
In order to coupon, you must have coupons. This might sound obvious. You would be surprised at how many people have expressed their desire to get started but do not get the Sunday paper and don’t plan to print coupons. Here are some simple ways to find coupons.
How to Get Coupons
Sunday Paper: I get the Sunday paper. I used to buy a few extra each week from a local store that sells them for a $1. Now I get extras from the food bank to which I regularly donate. I date the front of each insert. I then 3 hole punch and binder them. I never clip coupons until I am ready to use them. This is not a couponing rule. This is my preference.
Online Printable: Most sites allow you to print each coupons 2x per computer. www.coupons.com. I also subscribe to free coupon alerts. Recyclebank.com is another way to 'earn' coupons by taking quizzes.
Magazine subscription: Magazine subscriptions pay for themselves quickly with all the money saving coupons. You can purchase a subscription and save money or it can be purchased at WalMart.
Store coupons: These are example of local stores in my area, Central OH. I recommend checking out your area as well.
- Target: in the mail or http://coupons.target.com/
- Kroger: sign up online to receive coupons in the mail
- Meijer: http://www.meijermealbox.com/ ; There is a box on the right side of the page. Click on the tab specials.
Coupons and Ads
Now that you have some coupons, I recommend finding some coupon blogs to follow. They do all the work for you. The best way to really save money or get things for free is to couple your coupons with sales. These blogs do weekly match ups. Many follow their local and even national chains. They review the weekly ad and tell you what coupons to use. They tell you where their coupons are from and even link to the printables. I am not kidding. They do ALL the work! When I get ready for a shopping trip, I review my latest blog, decide what I am interested in purchasing and get my coupons in order. Really, it is that simple.
In my quest to find coupon blogs, I have found many that I check out on a regular basis.
I recently had a blog published on KCL in their travel section.
But, my favorite is www.bargainstobounty.com
Bargains to Bounty?
I mainly shop Meijer and Kroger. Jolyn does an amazing job of matching both stores, especially Meijer. I am impressed with the amount of detail Jolyn provides. I am pleased that she is so dedicated to making my couponing life easier. I had the opportunity to ask Jolyn a few questions as I was curious about what all goes into this blog I love.
I was curious who she was. There had to be more to her than coupon match ups!
Jolyn is a stay at home mom to 3 kids ages 7, 5 and 1. She lives in the Detroit Metro area. In her previous life (which seems so long ago now), she was an elementary school teacher and coach. She loves that her website gives her the flexibility to spend time with her family and manage their sick days. Her husband is a high school teacher and she is looking forward to summer like you wouldn't believe!
Ok, so she is a normal stay at home mom, just like me. I was curious how long she had been couponing.
She was unsure how or when she officially started couponing. As a kid, she used to add coupons to her mom's shopping list. In high school, she began finding deals that matched up with sales.
She recalled that during the summer when she was on break from college, she worked at a small Spartan chain store. Over time, she tried just about every position there. She filled in for all the positions ranging from cashiering and stocking, produce, ordering and management. This gave her a good basis to start with and a chance to pick up a few things now and then with coupons.
She would say that she started couponing more seriously in the fall of 2005. She decided to leave the elementary classroom to stay home with her son. They knew this was a financial move that was risky. She looked into coupon resources online and started ramping up coupon use while shopping. This made a decent impact on our spending and they were able to resist living off our savings.
In January 2009, she explained that a friend called. Her friend was working part-time and her husband was laid off. They were trying to stretch their limited income to feed 4 teenagers. She said to Jolyn, "You have to show me how you shop." Jolyn listed a number of websites that she used to do her research along with instructions. When her friend called back a week or two later, she explained that that method wasn't working for her. These deals and coupons weren't always valid in her area.
Creating A Couponing Website
Jolyn searched for something that covered Michigan or Metro Detroit and it just wasn't there. Even though friends had encouraged her to start a blog before, she felt that she had nothing unique to offer. There were so many other frugal blogs. She had been occasionally sharing deals with friends via email, but would accidentally leave someone out. That friend would be disappointed. Therefore, she offered to put the weekly shopping lists, highlighting only the best deals, on a free blog.
Purpose of Couponing Website
Jolyn’s hope is that Bargains to Bounty makes shopping and planning easier for her readers. She is doing most of the work for them. She hopes that they're using it to save on groceries for their families and to pick up a few extras as donations. She reminded me that she doesn’t post every deal. She only highlights the best deals she can find. She also feels strongly about ethics in couponing. She will not allow anything questionable on her site.
Time Commitment Creating Coupon Website
What I love most about Jolyn’s blog is that she really does do all the work for me. I was curious how long this weekly process takes. She explained that it is tedious, but it is something anyone can do. She scours each weekly ad, and then searches coupon databases for coupons that match up to the sale prices. There is even a coupon database on her website. She assured me that it just takes attention to detail and persistence, week after week. She surprises herself when thinking how long she has been doing it!
She also admits that she might spend too much on her blog, considering that first and foremost, she is a wife to a very supportive husband and mom to 3 young kids. She tries her best to find the time to work on it a little bit every day. But the Meijer match ups are the most time consuming. She can easily spend 8-10 hours just on that one post. I am glad she does. This is my favorite part!
Assistance Creating Coupon Website
This sounds like a ton of work for anyone, even more for a mom with young kids. I was curious if she had help. She has helpers now, simply out of necessity. She just couldn't keep up. Her friend Stacey prepares the Target post each week. Jenesa manages Aldi and Kroger, along with Meijer price drops. Stephanie helps to moderate the Facebook fan page. And Emily, out of the kindness of her heart, will share her finds at Meijer and Kroger. Jolyn appreciates Emily’s eye for deals! But Jolyn doesn’t leave out her dedicated readers. They share deals, too, making sure she doesn’t miss anything.
Can You Make Money With Coupon Websites?
Jolyn saves me hours and money each week. I was hoping for all this time she dedicates to helping us, that she at least earns a little money, too. She assured me that she does or she wouldn't be able to continue. She uses ads in the sidebar and email. These help provide income to afford the costs of website hosting and technical support. She is also an "affiliate" of different companies. Sometimes when she recommends a deal, she will earn a small percentage in return for the recommendation.
With the onset of TLC’s Extreme Couponing, the couponer was brought out into mainstream attention. I was curious what Jolyn thought about this show. Jolyn feels for the most part that Extreme Couponing is highly misleading. The transactions you see there cannot be reproduced in real life. There are a lot of behind the scenes things that we don't see. Examples are:
The amount of counterfeit coupons that shoppers are using.
The way coupon policies are bent for the filming.
The illegal methods and staged interactions.
However, the show does have its redeeming qualities. It has opened the eyes of some who watch, pointing out that you don't HAVE to pay full price for your groceries. There are ways to save.
I asked her if she would ever want to be on the show. She said that she doesn’t even think she would qualify. Her methods are hardly extreme. They're just strategic.
A Zero Balance Receipt
Saving Money With Coupons
When I first began to coupon, I viewed it as a challenge. Once I learned the rules of the game, it has changed how I approach grocery shopping.
If you are looking to start couponing, start slowly. Don’t think you are going to accumulate a stock pile or surplus overnight. Try to get a few deals every week and you will ultimately see savings in your spending and extras on your shelves.
Know your local stores' coupon policies. In Detroit, where Jolyn lives, coupons up to .50 are doubled. This means that a .50 coupon is worth $1.00. A .75 coupon is worth .75. Where I live, coupons up to .99 are doubled. A .75 coupon is worth $1.50. Knowing this can allow me to find even better deals in her blog.
Most importantly, don’t recreate the wheel. There are many bloggers already doing weekly match ups. If you don’t know where to start, even google: "‘store name’ ‘date’ match up". For example, I could search for Meijer 3/11 matchup. I will find many blog with weekly match ups.
I already have some great bloggers I follow. Bargains to Bounty, www.bargainstobounty.com, is my favorite site. I now know that its creator, Jolyn, is a great person, too. What started as a way to save money has turned into a popular blog. I still can only imagine how much time and money Jolyn alone has saved me on my couponing journey. Check out her site. I am glad I did!
And don't forget to thank your coupon blogger for their valuable time. Thanks, Jolyn!
© 2012 Karen Lackey