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RV Lifestyle Savings with Coupons

couponsWith gas prices going up and down and back up along with the prices of RV parks, we full-time RVers need to save any way we can so I am currently investigating couponing. I found a great Kindle eBook (available in paperback too) on the subject, Pick Another Checkout Lane, Honey which provides all the details on how it works and lots of help getting started. The first thing I learned is that Momma taught me how to shop all wrong! Of course, she didn’t have the Internet during her time so I guess I can forgive her. I am now having to learn a whole new way of shopping and because I live in a small travel trailer, I have to modify the coupon methods due to lack of storage space. You see, you don’t just create a shopping list of what you need for this week and go buy it at any cost while maybe throwing in a couple coupons. All those ladies you hear about who take $200 worth of groceries home for $50 are shopping for the future rather than the here and now. They buy items only when they go on sale, add multiple coupons when they can on each item, and stock up. Stocking up is the real secret. They see a good deal on toothpaste, add coupons, go to stores that will double the coupon value, and tada they get their toothpaste free to 50% off. The same for other things. To get more coupons, they actually subscribe to the local paper to get 3-5 copies of each Sunday paper delivered. There are also Internet coupons you can browse and print out as well as e-coupons you download directly to a store’s rewards card. Also, pay attention to the back of your receipts for coupons or what are called catalinas (spend $20 and get $5 off your next purchase, etc.) There are actually coupons online for meat, milk, and cheese too. Wow!

So how does an RVer make this work for them? Well, if you live in a Class A or a 5th wheel, you should have or be able to create more room to store food in the basement. I suggest storing in plastic boxes. Subscribing to the paper is only practical when we stay in one place for a long time like during the winter so you will need to be hitting up the news stands early Sunday morning for the paper. Internet coupons are available to anyone and can be found at Coupons.com, Red Plum, Smart Source, and just about any food manufacturer’s web site or store website. Restaurants are also online with coupons at their own websites such as at KFC.com and you can get wonderful deals at Restaurant.com. I have used the latter and it works very well. Watch for their sales on certificates and additional special offers provided at checkout.

Now I hear the groaning about the time it takes to do this. It actually doesn’t take that much time once you get the basics down and setup a system that works for you. It can take as little as 2-3 hrs. a week. I have tried un-successfully to use coupon and check organizers and to organize coupons via date or grocery aisle. What seems to work best for me is using a 2-3” zippered binder with baseball card pages. The pages hold 9 coupons on each side which are easily viewed and found. I also have other pages that hold larger coupons in 3 and 6 pockets. I use section dividers to find the right grocery aisle coupons. I also have full page holders to carry store policies for reference and other notes. You can find all these at Wal-Mart or on EBay.

Most of the work is actually done by others who match up current store sales to coupons and post the results online for you. They even provide shopping lists you can print out with full details on what coupons to use. Some maintain searchable databases as well to make it easy to find the great deals. You can signup online for free with them at their websites or Like them on Facebook for instant news. Some good ones are  SavvyShoppersDeals, FabulesslyFrugal, LearningToBeFrugal, TheKrazyCouponLady, and many more. Check out several. You can also attend very basic coupon workshops at many Wal-Marts now.

Two big tips:

  1. Shop at the start of a sale not the end to find product available.
  2. Proctor and Gamble put out a large coupon insert in the Sunday paper at the end of the month only.

You may not cut your grocery bills by 80% like home couponers do but you certainly can save a lot of money once you learn to shop and coupon right. It is also a lot of fun coming home with free goodies! You may need to limit what you want to save on such as toiletries, OTC pharmaceuticals, etc. which are generally small, easy to store, and light weight. If you do nothing else, grab all the restaurant coupons from their websites and Restaurant.com to save a bundle. I got a $35 meal for $10 plus tip with a certificate I paid $3 for. They also make great gifts.

I would also like to mention Ebates.com. If you shop a lot online, go to Ebates.com and access many major merchants including Wal-Mart through there instead to receive additional rebates on your purchases in the form of a check once a month. Every little bit helps and like most everything else I have mentioned, it is FREE to join. Winking smile

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