Don't worry - I haven't fallen of the couponing bandwagon, but I've been doing some traveling so I haven't been doing as much grocery shopping lately!
At any rate, I feel like I'm sort of getting the hang of things a little bit. I've got a nice stockpile of coupons going on, and I'm starting to figure out how to match up those coupons with sales to get the best bang for my buck.
First, I've signed up for circulars - both paper and digital - with the stores in my area. One grocery store already delivers paper circulars to the mailbox of residents in my area, so that's nice. I've taken to reading through the circulars in detail, paying special attention to any store coupons that are contained within. I make a note of the dates during which the sale or coupon prices are good, and try to plan my shopping within those dates. I think I've only managed one stacking deal (store coupon + manufacturer's coupon) but it's still early days.
One of the ways that this sale + coupon method works best is learning how to stock up. The price book is helping me to identify "stock up prices" -- prices that are the best available for a certain food item (below $2/box for cereal - that sort of thing) and I'm also keeping an eye out for products for which I'm brand-loyal (Arm & Hammer toothpaste). When either the stock up prices are available or a store coupon + manufacturer's coupon deal is around, even if I'm not almost out of toothpaste or whatever, it's time to stock up as much as possible.
Watching the circulars for sales has also inspired me to go hunting for specific manufacturer's coupons - if I don't already have one in my stash, it's worth visiting the company's website and Facebook page to see if I can find one there.
A surprising lesson I've learned this week is to shop for personal care items at the grocery store. Generally, we're told that the grocery store is a bad place to buy things like health care items, cosmetics, or other products. But in several cases, I've found that my grocery store is as cheap as or cheaper than Target (or in the case of my preferred deodorant, they carry it and Target doesn't!) or a drug store like Walgreens. This can be extra valuable because my grocery store doubles coupons once a week, and neither Target nor any drug stores near me do that. I could have saved an extra $2 this past weekend if I'd realized this about twelve hours sooner than I did.
If you're doing the #couponchallenge, how's it going for you? What are you learning about the stores in your area?