Some time last summer a friend of mine mentioned how much money she saves couponing. When she tried explaining it to me it all seemed cryptic and she used weird coupon lingo that was over my head. Register rewards, stacking, ECBs... huh??? Since then I've googled things here and there; she even had an impromptu how-to pow wow with me at a neighbor's house. I was still confused.

With much patience and chewing of hair, I think I've figured out how some of these savvy ladies nail hundreds of dollars worth of merchandise for so little out-of-pocket money. One of the most helpful links that helped break down the process was I've been checking it just about every day to see price and merchandise comparisons in the local area. (I'd become a tad shopping ignorant.) For the longest time I've stuck to the military commissary for the convenience factor. I shop at Walmart if I am desperate for groceries and the commissary is closed or if I'm looking for an ingredient that isn't available on base. On the website's blog the author also posts shopping "scenarios" on how to spend as little as possible by combining products/rewards/coupons. It's been extremely helpful.

I've decided to take this slow. I've been collecting coupons from the Sunday paper inserts for a few weeks and I feel like I'm up to my eyeballs in paper. It is pretty exciting getting 3 or 4 copies of each paper and finding coupons for things that we buy every week. (I'm seeing dollar signs for how much small savings will add up to over a year!)

I'm going to start with Walgreens and CVS. Both stores are easy to get to and offer money back on purchases - also, they are good places to score free swag. It's easy to shop there because they have weekly circulars about their deals and coupons, which makes combining and saving at these stores easy - hence the reason why I'm starting out there.

As a teenager I had mountains of bath, beauty and makeup products - nowadays I have just what I need and I have a pretty consistent makeup regimen. Certain things like foundation, face wash, face moisturizer and deodorant are items that I don't cheat on - it's all love-em or leave-em. Everything else is negotiable though - I'm certainly not brand-loyal to things that end up in the trash or down the drain.

So, after hours of pouring over coupons and organizing my saving attack, I got my feet wet in the couponing world. I don't think I'll ever be happy seeing "Savings: $2.00" on a receipt again. Up until today I've saved a dollar to max (one time) $20 on a single shopping trip. I shopped at CVS and Walgreens for items that I needed or would definitely be using soon. I'm not ready to stockpile and I don't have the room...yet!

Tonight I bought Almay and Revlon makeup, toothpaste, household basics, bath stuff and beverages. After adding everything up I saved 40% off the original price. What I bought retailed at $89.51. How much did I pay? $35.94!!! That's $53.57 in savings. It was stressful shopping in stores I don't often frequent and trying to figure out what to pay for first, but I did it and it was a success. I used to pay $15-20 for two boxes of hair color and tonight I got two for $4. 99 cents for eyeshadow? I'm hooked.

Drugstores seem easy enough, but shopping for food at multiple stores (with a baby and a husband who hates shopping when he has to come) is something that I need to warm up to. I know there are some stores that double coupons, which would more than make it worth it, but like I said, I'm trying to take this slow. I'm already overwhelmed trying to figure out how to organize all my coupons.

My goal is to bring down our shopping expenses by an average of at least 30%. Can't wait to see what deals I can score this Sunday! :)

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