Sunday, January 22, 2012

Couponing 101

I received quite a few questions and emails regarding my last post about couponing.  Those questions were fresh in my mind as I clipped my coupons this morning and I thought it would be fun to share some tips and tricks with you.  Here they are, in no particular order.

Tip # 1:  Only clip coupons for things you actually use.  Couponing has a way of being addictive.  Take caution not to buy things just because they are a good deal. The coupons above are all things we use (hot sauce, pickled jalapenos, dishwasher detergent, vitamins, aluminum foil, nuts. Italian sausage, canned tomatoes, yeast, Cheerios (for my 5 year old) and cheese. (These coupons total $10.50 in savings)

 Tip #2:  Learn the coupon policy for your store(s).  Every store's coupon policy varies.  Visit your store's website or go to their customer service desk and ask them about their coupon policy. Most stores will double any coupon that is $.50 or less (this is as good as it gets at my store).  However, some stores double coupons up to $1, making each $1 coupon instantly worth $2.  Anytime you can double a coupon worth $1 then you are going to get an amazing deal (you may even get money back)! Additionally, some stores will double the value of any coupon on one particular day of the week.  If this is the case then it would definitely be worth doing the majority of your shopping on that day.  I could go on and on here, but it is best to check with your store.  You'll want to be fully informed so that you don't run into any surprises.


Tip # 3:  You'll find the best deals by combining what's on sale along with your coupons.  Here is a perfect example.
This week my local store has cans of Hunt's tomatoes on sale for $.59 each. I have a coupon for $.45 off 3 cans, which automatically doubles to $.90 off.  Therefore I will buy 3 cans for a grand total of $.87 ($.59each  x 3 cans = $1.77 - $.90 coupon  = $.87).  You really can't beat a deal like that!  Canned tomatoes are a staple, especially in the winter.  I will be so glad to have these on hand in my pantry.  In fact, this leads me to my next tip.

Tip #4:  If there are good deals to be had, and you have the room/space, stock up!  Don't be afraid to ask a friend for their paper when they're finished with it OR if the savings dictate, buy another paper.  The main point is to stock up.  Sales and coupons are on cycles and oftentimes you will run out of a product before it cycles again.   


Tip # 5: Make sure your coupon is the best deal to be had.  Do not go to the store determined to use your coupon without first checking prices for the other brands.  Every once in awhile it happens where I'll clip a coupon and then go to the store to find that another brand is cheaper.  The motto here is to pay attention.  Don't use your coupon just for the sake of using your coupon.  Remember, you are after the best deal. 

Tip# 6: Certain stores, like Walgreens, allow you to combine their store coupons with manufacturer's coupons.  This is one of my favorite tips/tricks.  Walgreens is the place where I find a lot of great deals.  And, I must not be the only one because I frequently see other people couponing there as well. After you clip the coupons from the coupon inserts, get out your Walgreens ad.  Inside the Walgreens ad there is another set of coupons.  Here is an example.
Walgreens has a coupon for $2 off Listerine which they will allow me to combine with my mfg. coupon for $1 off.  I happen to know this particular bottle of Listerine is always $3.99.  This means that with my combined coupon I will be getting this Listerine for $.99.  Again, if possible I would stock up on this because this is a big staple in my house.

I should also mention that in addition to their weekly sales ad, Walgreens also puts out a monthly pamphlet (available at the front of the store by the sales ad) that also has coupons in it.  There have been times where I have used a Walgreen sales ad coupon, combined with a coupon from the monthly pamphlet, and a mfg. coupon. I love that Walgreens allows you to triple up on coupons. However, be cautioned when it comes to using mfg. coupons at Walgreens.  You can use them, but Walgreens will not double them.  Therefore, if you have a mfg. coupon and cannot match it with a Walgreens store coupon then it is best to use your mfg. coupon at the regular grocery store so that it can be doubled.  

Tip # 7:  Be Organized.  If you decide to coupon then you will need some sort of organizer.  I don't have anything fancy or pretty.  I just use an old photo album that has separate compartments and I've labeled each compartment with a sharpie marker. Each week I take care to go through my coupons, removing any expired ones, and at the same time refreshing my memory with the coupons that I do have so that I can better match my coupons to what's on sale that week.  As I make my grocery list I set aside the coupons I want to use and place them in a ziploc baggy to take to the store. 

Tip #8:  Keep your coupons with you.   One of the most valuable lessons I've learned while couponing is to ALWAYS keep my coupons with me.  I keep my coupon book in the trunk of my car so I always have it.  You never know when you are going to find a good deal.  

Tip #9:  Leave your kids, and any other distractions, at home when you shop!  Kids are cute, and I have two of my own, but I try my best to leave them at home when I do my shopping.  There is no way you can pay attention to the deals, your coupons, and the cashier who is ringing up your order if you have kids in tow.

Tip# 10:  Try to plan a menu based on your savings.  Challenge yourself to come up with recipes based on the items you buy with your coupons.  This week it's pretty much a no brainer for me.  Based on the canned tomatoes, yeast, Italian sausage and cheese I will most definitely be making some homemade pizzas.  The coupon for the pickled jalapenos is just the push I needed to make The Homesick Texan's breaded and fried pickled jalapeno slices, which have been on my to-do list for awhile now. 

Bonus Tip:  When couponing, please pay attention to the cashier ringing your order and also double check your receipt to make sure all your deals rang up correctly. Cashiers are busy and bound to make mistakes and sometimes the computers do not code the deals correctly.  Don't be afraid to point out errors while the cashier is ringing up your order.  Also, know beforehand how much you should be saving with your coupons so that you can double check your receipt afterwards and make sure it is all accounted for.  The grand total of my coupons above is $10.50 and I will be sure to make sure I see $10.50 in savings at the bottom of my receipt.

Another Bonus Tip:  If you're interested in couponing, but are feeling a little nervous about it all, then start off small.  Find yourself one good deal, grab your coupon, take it all to the register, and have it rung up separately so you can look at the receipt and understand it.  Next time around you'll feel more comfortable and you'll understand the rules a little better.

As of right now, I only use my local Sunday newspaper for coupons.  Some people like to get their coupons online, but then it is necessary to print them, which does involve extra cost. If you're interested, there are some great online coupon sites out there, namely smartsource.com and redplum.com. 

I hope this bit of information was helpful in answering some of the questions. If you have any additional questions, or tips of your own, feel free to share them in the comments section, or via email.  I'd love to hear about them! 

41 comments:

  1. You rock! This great advice. Thanks.

    Velva

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  2. I am amazed and astounded - I can never find coupons for fresh stuff - some from the grocery - but then often when it's a "BYGO" - the stuff out is not up to snuff. My hat goes off to you!

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  3. Thanks for a very useful post. I need to give it a thought as I've never done any couponing, and you have everything well explained.

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  4. Hey Kim, I can leave a comment again! I'll have to go change my vote, lol. What a great post, I'm going to have to start paying more attention to coupons up here!

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  5. Great post, Kim. I am not totally into coupons, but when I see one for a product I use, I cut it out. Also find some good ones online.

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  6. Kim, thank you so much for your wonderful advice and information. I know that took you a long time to write up and I appreciate the time and effort you put into your blog. It is all great advice and really good tips I've never heard before. Thank you also for the online coupon sites. I know there are lots of them so it's nice you narrowed them down for us. Have a great day!

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  7. Wonderful post, Kim!thank you for your tips!

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  8. Might I also suggest checking out your local library or community center to see if they put on a coupon swap. It's a great way to get rid of the coupons you don't need in exchange for picking up ones that you do need.

    I have set one up at my library and we have great volunteers that sort them and they share tips and ideas and sales while clipping coupons.

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  9. I need to go through my coupons, thanks for the reminder! ;)

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  10. i love reading your blog, you are so helpful to an aspiring chef like me:)

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  11. Tip #11 - Build a big drawer for all your coupons, ha ha.

    Great tips Kim, thanks for the ideas.

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  12. Thanks for all this great info, I share coupons with friends and it totally helps.

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  13. This is really great advice. I've always thought of those coupons as money that would be wasted if we didn't use them. Great to know that Walgreens will accept two coupons, I've been shopping there for years and didn't know that.

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  14. My goal for 2012 at least $8.00 a grocery store trip in savings! So far so good but its early...still January.

    I saw a local coupon guy and he said people take part time jobs to earn extra money, but if your smart with couponing it can act as your second job based on the savings.

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  15. I coupon a little bit, but mainly go to the online weekly ads and focus on Buy One Get One Free (BOGO's) an special pricing. I save over $100 a week this week; it's a blast! I even started keeping track of my savings on another blog 'Cheap Chic Chick". Tracking makes me feel like the time and effort really pays off! Also started going to Aldi's for fresh produce and meats. Thanks for the tips!

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  16. I'm a newbie and I'm like a go crazy with lots of coupons that I end up not using all of them. TY for these helpful tips.

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