Friday, July 19, 2013

Christi the Coupon Coach: Couponing Made Simple {A Review}

Christi the Coupon Coach  sent us her Couponing Made Simple book ($18.00).  But to start this review properly, we must start at the beginning.

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When we decided that I should stay home with my children after they were born and then continue on at home with them to homeschool, I choose to stop working full time. Budgeting became a top priority for our family. Finding ways to cut costs, save money, and do more with less became a part of everything I did and do. 

For a couple of years, I wrote a newsletter for a company called Homeschool FreeStuff. I was always looking for free things for homeschool families and I would share them with my readers.

From there, I found myself knee-deep in research for how to save money not only on homeschooling items, but on our groceries as well. I scoured the internet learning everything I could. It was very time consuming and took a bit of time to get myself into the swing of things and really start to save us money. But the rewards were evident, I went from spending $250 a week to about $115-that's almost $600 a month.

Now when I received Christi's book, Couponing Made Simple, I wondered what new tricks I might learn as well as what the book would include.

I must say that I picked up a couple of new tips and I wish I would have had this book when I first started several years ago. It would have definitely saved lots of time and frustration learning the ropes. She explains how to use coupons step-by-step and has a section devoted to getting organized.

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Some things that we can attest to...

  • Following Christi's 2 rules of couponing: Buy on Sale and Stack Coupons, I have successfully saved lots of money...

Dish soap, salsa, and tea are all things that are on sale frequently and coupons come out for them so that you can find the best prices available.

Don't pay for things you can get for free!
Using a BOGO coupon and the stores BOGO sale, 
I only paid tax on these deodorants.

This deal was a fun one. It was nearly back to school time and there was a coupon for these crayons. Then I found in the flyer that they were on sale for... less then the coupon allowed me to take off! I made money on "buying" these school supplies!

You may notice toothpastes, floss, mouth wash, and toothbrushes. I never buy them, ever. We receive free tooth care supplies every time we go to the dentist and there are always deals so that you don't even have to pay for them.

  • Buy only what you can use before it will expire or the next sale cycle starts. I once bought 4 mayo's, when we can only use 1 before it will expire. ~Though this does provide an opportunity to share with friends before it goes bad.
  • Utilize rebates. We once bought some games on sale for birthday gifts for nieces and nephews. They came with a rebate. By sending it in you got a free pizza. We earned 6 free pizzas.

  • Freeze everything

Our freezer holds meats, cheeses, veggies, fruit, broths, breads, gravies, just about anything I make.

We buy meat when it is on sale and freeze it.
Sometimes I'll throw chicken in the oven to bake
or hamburger in the crock pot to cook before freezing it.
When it is finished, I'll freeze the cooked meat
and the broth.
It is great for quick lunches or dinners on the run.

  • Buy fruits at local pick-your-own farms. 
  • Find the best prices available online for food allergies. We don't have any food allergies, but we do have skin sensitivities. We use non-toxic soaps, shampoos, lotions, feminine products, and diapers, so we look for the best deals online, buy in bulk, and try to buy enough to get free shipping.
  • Use coupons from a variety of sources. It didn't "pay" for us to buy the Sunday paper (even when we used them for fire starters), but we've told friends that we'll take coupons left over from their inserts, get coupons online, and look for coupons in the store.

Some new tips for me:
  • Measure produce in bags or bunches to get the most for your money. 
  • Watch the water is cheaper to buy something that costs more if it has less water.

Some other things I do to save money:
I have made a lowest price list for the items I buy (I can't remember what those great prices are without it). I only buy things when they hit their rock bottom price.I price match all meat, cheese, and produce before making a purchase (except my non-negotiables, the gotta haves: milk, soy milk, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, potatoes). Then I go to a store that matches competitors prices.

Get money back on the things you buy. Join rewards programs for the things you generally buy: diapers, sodas, grocery stores, internet, credit cards (but be sure to pay them off at the end of every cycle so you don't have interest charges), just about everything has a reward program. You can trade your points in for things you need. 

I don't buy it if I can make it for less. We use homemade cleaners that are non-toxic. I never buy canned soups. I make my own cream bases and make a large pot of soup for dinner one night every week. I buy things in bulk from a local Amish food store. We save a ton of money buying 50 lb bags of flours, sugar, and oatmeal and storing them in air tight containers. Then I make my own breads, tortillas, doughs, noodles, crackers, and pitas from scratch.

We buy most of our beef and pork locally. Every year we get half a cow and a hog. Then we put it in our deep freezer and use it for the entire year.

We tell everyone we know that we take hand-me-downs. Little Man is still preschool age, but I have totes with clothes in them clear up to size 14 for him. We rarely buy clothes for the children ever.

We make what we have stretch. We cut our dryer sheets in half, add water to all of our hand soaps, dish soaps, and shampoos (be careful not to make them to watery), and use plastic grocery bags for the bathroom waste baskets.

We try to focus on healthy options. We shop on the outside aisle more and inside less. Snacks at our house include raw fruits and veggies, cheese and homemade crackers (no juices-too much sugar). We have meatless meals that have a complete protein combination instead (dairy + grain, bean + grain, or egg). We put in a garden to grow our own organic produce. We use homemade pesticides that are cost effective. We compost with kitchen scraps, newspaper, and cardboard.

Conclusion: All of these cost-saving tips, help us save more to spend on our homeschooling. Christi provides excellent tips for the beginning couponer that would like to get started without a lot of headache.

Note: On pages 120-121, Christi shares a "free deal" for eternity and provides Salvation Steps. In these steps, she lists 4 references to scripture. I would like to add there are over 40 references to salvation in the Bible and they aren't generally provided in steps. Mark 16:16 is an additional one that can not be skipped over along with the many others.

Wishing you homeschool blessings,

Click here to read more reviews from Schoolhouse Review Crew.

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