Today’s column is from guest blogger Kelley Roblyer, who shares her strategies for saving big with coupons!
One of my New Year’s resolutions was to save big money this year, cutting back on everyday expenses. We’ve all been hit with economic hardships and to save some cash, I decided to fully embrace COUPONING.
My initial efforts were time consuming. I spent at least eight hours one rainy Sunday in January printing every coupon I could find and feeling very overwhelmed.  I also reviewed the Publix, Walgreens, and Winn Dixie websites to see what was on sale, what items were buy one, get one free, etc. Then I created a spread sheet.  Finally, I reviewed manufacturer’s sites to see if they had better coupons.  Needless to say, the entire process was CRAZY but I saved a total of 20 to 25% on my first run to Publix. 
A few weeks later, I found a website,  (Although the site highlights stores in southern states, it also features national chains like Target, CVS, Walgreens and Rite Aid.) This site does two things: creates shopping lists for your stores and offers a “best deal” button.  Items go on sale in eight week cycles and site creator Jenny lists which are the best deals for that store, that week.  Jenny also suggests that you cover only one grocery store and one drug store. 
TIP: Don’t buy things you normally wouldn’t buy.  Though specials are tempting, throwing uneaten items away is a waste of your hard-earned cash.
There are three main printable coupon websites: ,, and . In Southern Savers, the “printable” button has the manufacturers’ lists too.  Jenny even covers Target, Walmart and many others. Some coupons merge onto your rewards cards, further adding to savings. For example, Hunt’s ran a deal with about 12 grocery stores which loaded points onto a reward card directly from their website.
TIP: You may need to install the Mozilla Firefox web browser on your computer.  Some sites will not print out coupons without Firefox.  In addition, the software that the coupons require you to download is a counting software, which only allows you to print out a particular coupon so many times.
You’ll need to start building your coupon book for future deals. If something goes on sale in March, the coupon may have been offered and printed in January.  Most coupons are viable for 2 – 4 months. Though time consuming at first, practice makes perfect. The goal should be to spend no more than 30 minutes per week couponing.
TIP: You can visit manufacturer’s sites and set up an email just for coupons. Notifications will be delivered to your inbox.
My HUGE personal coupon moment came on February 6th 2011, when I saved 67% on my total grocery bill.  Since that date all of my grocery bills are at least 50% off the previous total bill.  Most of my savings come from “buy one get one free” with an in-store coupon coupled with the manufacture coupon.
Example 1 :  Publix had a Buy One Get One Free with Bic disposable razors packs.
                        Total for 2                                                                              $10.98
                        The BOGO                                                                             $-5.49
                        2 manufactures coupon (2 products = 2 coupons)                    $-4.00
                        Total for two packs of Bic razors packs                             $1.49 or $.75 per pack
                        Savings                                                                                   $9.49
Example 2:       Progresso had a Buy One Get One Free at Publix, to which I added a manufacture $1.00 off to buy four. Then, Publix had a in-store sale coupon to also buy 4 and get $1.00 off.
                        Total for 4                                            $  9.16 (per soup was $2.29)
                        The BOGO                                          $ -4.58 (divide two for free)
                        Manufacture coupon                             $ -1.00 (if you buy 4)
                        Publix in-store coupon                          $ -1.00 (if you buy 4)
                        Total                                                    $2.58 or .65 per can of soup
                        Savings                                                $6.48 for 4 cans of soup
A word of warning: Couponing can be addictive! I’m hooked and the savings allows me to splurge on different meat or fish at the market.  I’ve even gotten items for free by combining featured prices and manufacturer’s coupons.
The experience has been a true eye-opener. One final tip: Do your shopping at off hours. (I shop early in the morning—usually around .) Holding 20 – 30 coupons can be a little daunting for the customer behind you!
Happy couponing and happy savings! Make it a game and you will WIN. 
Kelley Roblyer