Couponing for Newbies

NEW TO COUPONING? START HERE.

1. Start building your coupon library. Where do you get all of those coupons?

WEEKEND NEWSPAPER: In my area we receive our coupon inserts in the Saturday paper; however the majority of you will want to purchase the Sunday paper to receive all your coupons. ALWAYS CHECK to make sure the paper you are purchasing has the coupons inside. I’ve been burned a couple times…got home…no coupons! Ugh. That’s the worst. Usually on holiday weekends there are no coupon inserts (boo!), but sometimes they surprise you, so always check. The coupon inserts are as follows: RedPlum, Smartsource, Proctor & Gamble. Go here to view the 2010 Coupon Insert Schedule and see what coupons will be in the coming weekends inserts!

INTERNET SITES LIKE: coupons.com, smartsource.com, redplum.com, bettycrocker.com, pillsbury.com, etc. I will also give you a daily update on what other printable coupons are available.

ASK FRIENDS and FAMILY: Chances are most of your friends and family are not using all of their coupons. Speak up and ask if you can save them from the trash! My mother-in-law and grandmother-in-law both give me their extra coupons and I repay them with some of the free stuff I got from using them! Seems like a fair deal to me.

BLINKIES and TEAR PADS: Blinkies are little machines that spit out coupons and tear pads have coupons attached to them. Be on the look out for these at all times!

PEELIES: These are coupons and offers attached to products.

CHECK RECYCLE BINS: Now some of you might turn your nose up at this idea, but if you’re anything like my husband…you live for dumpster diving! Hey, don’t knock it. You can get lots of freebies!

TRADE ON THE INTERNET: There are several coupon trading sites. I myself do not use them, but if you’re short on coupons I would research that.

MAGAZINES: Several magazines feature a few coupons per month…don’t let those get away!
I cannot say enough about ALL You magazine, which features 40+ coupons each month. I will make sure to give you a heads up when this subscription is offered at a great price! Check my Magazines category for the latest deal on this mag.

STORES: Many stores, especially drugstores like Walgreens or CVS will put out their own monthly coupon booklets to be used exclusively in their stores. The great thing about these is that these are store coupons that can be stacked with a manufacturer coupon, which makes for some great deals! Another way they promote coupons is in their weekly ads, so don’t forget to check those out.

EMAIL YOUR FAVORITE COMPANIES DIRECTLY: Just ask! I try to email about 15-20 companies each month to compliment them on a quality product. In response they mail me coupons! It only takes a few minutes of your time and the majority will respond with coupons. These coupons are usually higher value than ones you find anywhere else. To avoid bombarding your inbox with junk mail, I would definately open a separate email account through yahoo or hotmail just for this purpose.

MAILERS: If you sign up with different companies they will usually mail you promotional offers and coupons periodically.

INSIDE PRODUCTS: Make sure to check inside the products you buy. Also sometimes manufacturers will put coupons on the box, so don’t throw away anything without checking for coupons first!

LOAD ELECTRONIC COUPONS TO YOUR STORE LOYALTY CARD:

Another great way to amp up your coupon savings is by loading them directly to your store’s loyalty card (example: Kroger Plus Card). It is very convenient…never forget your coupons again!

3 easy steps to instant clip-free savings

1. Register your store card on each electronic coupon website
2. Check the coupons you wish to load
3. Swipe your card at checkout and coupons are automatically deducted
(the coupon deduction does not show up at the end of your receipt with the other coupons…it shows up immediately after the item scan)

The best thing about these coupons is that you can stack them with paper coupons! For example, if you have an electronic coupon loaded onto your card for $1 off Dawn dishsoap, you can still give your cashier your $.25 paper coupon for the same item! Awesome!

Here are the 4 websites I load coupons from each month:

Shortcuts and Cellfire and Kroger and Upromise

Each month, I always print a list of what I’ve loaded to my shopper’s card and keep it with me so I can easily match up sales to coupons to clip-free coupons. This makes for some great deals!

Upromise is a savings program that rewards you with money for college education or to pay off current student loans. BUT you can also request a check for the money you have saved in your Upromise account and spend it on anything you want! Just submit this form here.

There are many ways to earn cash in your Upromise account. The main ways I save is by linking my Kroger card, CVS card, debit and credit cards. When I purchase a Upromise participating product or shop at a Upromise participating merchant, I get credit to my account balance.
After you’ve registered, you’ll want to first go to “Ways to Earn”, then “Groceries”. Enter your zip code on the right side of the screen to find participating stores in your area. Kroger and CVS are the stores that participate in my area. Enter your shopper’s card numbers for all participating stores.

One of the best ways to grow your Upromise balance is by using the Upromise e-coupons. Each month Upromise releases coupons that you load onto your cards at the Upromise website. When you purchase that item with your Kroger or CVS card, you receive the equivalent balance of the coupon in your Upromise account. And remember, you can also use paper coupons on the same items and get double the savings!

To load e-coupons go to “Groceries and Deals” button at top, then “e-coupons”.

You can also earn even more by opening a UPromise credit card, but you don’t have to. Just skip all the extra stuff it asks you during registration. It’s completely FREE!

Get started here.

2. Organize those coupons! The number one reason why so many coupons go unused is because many (with good intentions) clip them, only to forget they have them when it comes time to purchase the item. Some people like to clip every coupon and file it right away, some people like to keep their coupon inserts in tact, file them by date and clip them before they go to the store. I am a clipper! I take the time each weekend to clip and file all of my coupons right away, so it frees up my time during the week. So what do you do with all of those coupons once they’re clipped? For starters, get yourself a small accordian style coupon organizer (usually only a couple dollars at Walmart). When you find yourself with too many coupons to fit, it’s time to graduate to the coupon binder.

Here is a picture of mine

It is basically a zip-up case with a 3-ring binder inside. Baseball card inserts house all of my coupons. (As you can see, I need more inserts to accomodate). Some people like to add divider pages with each section labeled. I never got around to that, and I do just fine. I organize the pages by aisle at Kroger (the store I use most of my coupons). So, for example, my first page has all of my coupons for produce, bread, organic foods, peanut butter and jellies, and snack cakes (all found in the first aisle at my Kroger). The next page(s) have coupons according to the remainder of the aisles at Kroger. The last few pages have all of my cleaning, and health & beauty coupons. Then finally miscellaneous stuff (restaurant coupons, etc.). I also have several store-specific envelopes that I fill with the coupons I am going to use on that day. This is what works for me! You do what works best for you…and it might take you a few tries to get it just right. Play around with it until you find the method that helps you get the most out of your coupons.

3. Get to know your local store policies (and keep a printed coupon policy with you to avoid cashier disputes). Coupon policies vary, so ask them at the service desk if you’re unsure. Some stores don’t accept internet coupons, some do. Some double coupons, some don’t.

The only store in my area that doubles coupons is Kroger. They double a coupon up to and including $0.50. So if I have a $0.50 coupon, it will actually deduct $1.00. This makes for some awesome deals! And, this means I would rather have a $0.30 coupon that doubles to $0.60, than have a $0.55 coupon that does not double.

Some stores also have policies regarding how many “like” coupons they will double. For example, if I purchased 4 cans of tuna for $1.00 each and gave them 4 tuna coupons for $0.50 (doubled to $1.00), they technically only have to double 3 of those (my store’s policy). From my experience this has NEVER been enforced, but just be forewarned this may happen.

Some stores will allow you to combine or “stack” their store coupon with a manufacturer coupon. All manufacturer coupon bar codes start with a 5. I do this mostly at Walgreens and Kroger. Some coupons have a store logo printed on them, but they are actually manufacturer coupons. Sometimes you can just cut them off to avoid problems. Some stores accept competitor coupons (Walmart does this).

PRICE-MATCHING: This term means you can take a competitor ad into another store and they will match (or beat) that price for that specific item. Each store has their own policy, so you’ll want to find out before you try it. Walmart, Kmart and Target are the stores in our area that price-match. It’s nice because many times Walgreens will have a great sale on something, but since they are a smaller store, they don’t stock much…which means they run out quickly. I just take their ad into Walmart and get it for the same price! As long as no rewards or store coupons are involved, it’s better than getting a raincheck!

Now that you have your coupons organized, it’s time to STOCKPILE.

STOCKPILING basically means getting your groceries at the very lowest prices, and then purchasing enough to last you until you can get to the next great sale. This way, you never pay full price for any groceries at all. Organize a space to store all of these items and before you go to the grocery store, check your stockpile first. Make sure you don’t purchase too much of anything with a short shelf life, and of course, always use the items that are due to expire first. The whole point is to get your weekly grocery bill down as far as possible. My personal goal is to get my bill down to about $40 a week. I’m still working on building my stockpile, so I’ll keep you posted on this.

COMMONLY USED ABBREVIATIONS

SS – Smart Source coupon insert
PG – Proctor and Gamble coupon insert
RP – Red Plum coupon insert
GM – General Mills coupon insert
Q – Coupon
CAT – Catalina coupon (Manufacturer coupons that print out from a little machine at the register, triggered by what you buy.)
BOGO – Buy one get one Free
TEAR PAD – A pad of refund forms or coupons hanging on a shelf.
BLINKIE – Machine that spits out coupons.
PEELY – Sticker-like coupon found on products.
OOP- Out of Pocket Expense
ECB – Extra Care Bucks (CVS)
RR – Register Reward (Walgreens)
WAGS – Walgreens

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2 Responses

  1. Katie, this is awesome. I read only a portion of the newbie page and am so glad I did. You put so much good info in here to help get you started. AWESOME, AWESOME, AWESOME. By the way the new site looks great!!!!! Thanks for all your hard work.

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