How to Coupon

Have you ever been trying to shop with a handful of coupons & you see a sale, but didn’t bring that coupon with you?

Are you afraid of using coupons because it looks too complicated?

To be honest I use to think coupons were a waste of time. I would clip just a few and throw the rest in the trash. But my eyes have been opened. Now I look at a coupon as money in my pocket.

I have detailed out easy steps to begin your savvy coupon journey.

Where to get coupons:
  • Sunday Newspaper
  • Printable Internet coupons
    DO NOT try to photo copy your coupons the stores can tell, and it will make using printable coupons harder for us all. Check your local stores to see if they except printed coupons. Most stores do.
  • Blinkies – These are the little black boxes with the red blinking light that spits out coupons. You can find these little units on the shelves in some stores, like Walgreens. Go ahead and take a few and save them for your coupon stash. But only take a few, remember to play nice and leave some for the next coupon hunter.
  • Ask around, you would be surprised how many people just throw them away. Once your friends, family, co-works and neighbors know you like coupons they are normally happy to help save them for you.
  • Peelies – These are the coupons that come stuck to a product. They normally have a long shelf life, they tend to not expire for up to a year. They are great to save and combine with future sales.
  • Purchase coupons
    According to the law, no one can “sell” a coupon. But they CAN charge you for the time and effort put into clipping it.
  • The Manufacturer – Check out Facebook or the product’s website for your favorite product coupons.
What coupons to save
  • I clip and save almost every coupon. The only time I don’t save a coupon is if it’s something I would never use even if it was free. So I keep 99% of my coupons. On Sunday when the coupon inserts come out, I spent about an hour clipping them out. I put them in stacks of similar products. Like all the shampoo goes in one pile, all the cracker coupons in another. By clipping them out of the paper you are able to get rid of a lot of the bulk. From here you need to organize them, I keep all my coupons in a coupon binder.
  • Why do I clip and save every coupon? I save every coupon because I never know what is going to come on sale. Or when I might find an item on clearance, and if I have all my coupons in a binder, with me. Then I am able to take advantage of both the coupon and the sale. Before I started my binder I can’t tell you how many times I would buy something that I had a coupon for at home but I just forgot to bring it. Or I didn’t plan to buy it that week, but when I got to the store it was on sale. So I missed a great way to save even more money.
  • Don’t be to stuck on one brand! When you save all coupons, you are able to take advantage of some great sales. If you only save the coupons for the brands, you normally buy then you pay a lot more.
    For example: My family normally buys JIFF peanut butter, so if I see and coupon for JIFF I will hang on to it. But if I see a coupon for SKIPPY I might just toss it in the trash. Now if both peanut butters are $3.00 a jar I will always buy the one I like best. But if I find a sale later that month for SKIPPY for $1.75 and I have a .75 cents off coupon it would make the SKIPPY a $1 and the JIFF still is $3.00 and at that price I would be happy to buy SKIPPY.
    SO clip all brands and always bring your coupons along with you.
  • How many coupons do I save? I try to get at least 4 of each coupon but I am thrilled when I get more than that. Why do I save so many?
    Example: If Kroger is having a sale on Chili, for 75 cents, and normal price is a $1, plus I have a coupon for .25 cents. That would make it half price .50 cents, a great deal….but I don’t really want to go out of my way for one can of chili. But if I have saved 8 coupons, and I can get 8 cans at half price it will then be worth my time to buy it. Now, I  have a nice stockpile of chili.
    When you buy items at a low price, and stock up the goal is to have enough so you won’t have to buy it again till it comes on sale. This way you are ALWAYS able to buy your items half off or more.
When to use your coupons
  • PATIENCE! Just because you have a coupon does not mean you should buy an item. In fact if you buy items just because you have a coupon, you will end up spending more money on items you don’t really need, and are still over priced. The trick is to wait for the coupon to go on sale or clearance which is an even better deal.
  • PATIENCE! Wait for a sale then use the coupon along with the sale. Then buy several of that item, so you don’t need to buy it again till another sale comes along. Each time you can save, it adds up.
  • BOGO sales- When a store has a buy one get one free sale, this is a great time to use your coupons. You can use 2 coupons. One for the item you are buying and one for the item you are getting for free. WHY, you need to remember that a coupon is like cash. The store IS getting paid for that product, by the manufacturer. So the store gives you the second item for free, but they can turn in the coupon and get paid for that item they just gave you for free.
    Example- chips are on sale buy one get one free. You pay $4.00 for the first bag of chips, and get the 2nd free. But you have 2 coupons for $1 off a bag of chips. You can use both of those coupons. One coupon is applied to each bag of chips (although one bag is considered free) Both coupons are applied to the total sale price. Bringing the total to $2 for 2 bags of chips. You would have paid $8 for 2 bags of chips, but using the Buy one get one (BOGO) free sale you have saved $4 PLUS $2 in coupons.
  • Stacking your coupons is when you are able to use 2 coupons for one item. You are able to do this when you use a in-store coupon (a coupon that the store prints, normally in the weekly ad. It will have the store logo on it) along with a MFR (manufacturer coupon). When you use the in-store coupon and the MFR coupon together this is called “stacking” your coupons. So watch for those in-store coupons, and see if you have a MFR coupon to go along with it.
  • Rebates- A lot of companies offer a mail in rebate for their items as part of a promotion to get you to try or buy their product. Many times this makes the item free after rebate.
    Example- The store is selling nuts for $5.00, and they have a mail in rebate for $5.00 which would make the item free. But if you use a $2.00 coupon on the nuts, after you turn in your rebate they will give you a check for $5.00. SO you will actually make $2.00 for buying the nuts.
  • Store match or double- Most grocery stores will match up to $.50.  They will match you coupon amount, which gives you the chance to get twice the amount of your coupon.
    Example- the store is selling juice for $1.00 but I have a coupon for $.50 off, The store them matches the price of my coupon giving me another $.50 off, making my juice FREE.
    Normally if a store matches or doubles coupons they only let you do a limited of items per shopping trip. So I plan to make several trips through the checkout line.
ORGANIZATION IS THE KEY TO $AVING MONEY!
How to organize your coupons
  • Once you starts to collect coupons you will notice very quickly they turn into a huge pile of clutter. The only way I will use coupons is if I can easily find them, and have them organized. Everyone has their own way, I have used several different methods but this is what works for me. This is a photo of my coupon binder, I found the binder at Staples for $14 it seems to cover all my needs.

  • In the front on my binder I have clear sheet protectors, one for my shopping list and another for a printout of my e-coupons. In side pockets I can put that week’s ad, coupons I plan to use at that store etc. I always take my whole binder in with me, because I never now what I might find on clearance, or sale….and I will need my coupons for that.
  • I have 36 sections in my binder. I use 3 ring baseball card holders. I can always add or take out a page as my needs change.

Organize by Category:

  • Organizing by category requires a few hours of time each week to clip and organize all your coupons.  I usually spend and hour-90 minutes on a Sunday evening getting up to date on all my coupons.
  • This method makes preparing to shop quick and easy because your coupons are already clipped and organized!  Plus, when you find a clearance item in the store, it only takes 20 seconds to flip to the right category and find the coupon you need.

WHERE DO I BEGIN?

Build your Coupon Binder

  • Use baseball card holders to hold the clipped coupons (Find at Target or Walmart).  Should cost $5 for 30 pages.  You’ll need around 60 pages.
  • Download this printable table of contents and categories you can print right from home!

It’s Sunday, now what?

  1. Purchase multiple newspapers (minimum 3)
  2. Tear the inserts apart, careful not to ruin barcodes
  3. Lay the entire insert out on the table, each page a different pile.
  4. Next, staple all of the 1st page together, and on down the pages.
  5. Start clipping each stapled set and put the coupons into it’s corresponding category!

TIME TO GO SHOPPING!

Organize before you leave the house.

  • First, make a list of the things you want to purchase.
  • If you are going to be purchasing participating items as part of rewards, cash back or promotions and need to separate your transactions, make a separate list for each transaction.
  • Since you already organized your clipped coupons by category may also want to ‘pull’ the coupons they plan to use.  Place the coupons in an envelope or in an empty clear sheet protector at the front of your binder.

Choose the time of day to shop wisely.

  • Early in the morning, early afternoon, or late at night are usually the best times.
  • You and your checker will be less stressed out if there is not a line behind you.
  • Separate your BOGO items. Always ask your cashier if they want all the coupons at the end, or as we go. It varies on the store and cashier.

Be Polite!

  • If you have a cart full of groceries and lots of coupons, and you know you are going to be slow… Warn the other shoppers who get in line behind you. I always just nicely apologize and tell them they may want to choose another line, because I am going to be slow. Sometimes, they smile and say “That’s okay, I’m not in a hurry”, then they wait a few minutes, notice that I wasn’t joking and move to another line.  I hate having grumpy people in line behind me! It makes me feel like I need to hurry, and that’s when mistakes are made!  So I like to at least tell them what they are getting themselves into.
  • If you are separating your items into multiple transactions, just put one transaction on the conveyor belt at a time. If someone jumps in line behind you, just finish your transaction and get in line behind them. I notice this is much easier to do at the drug stores than it is at the grocery store.

Take it up with the Management

  • Do not be afraid to ask for a member of management to come clarify something for you. Often, you know more about the store coupon policy then the cashier, so don’t be afraid to nicely ask for a manager to explain something to you. Many times, I have had them call over a manager, and it ends with the checker saying “Huh, I never knew that!”
  • PRINT THE STORE COUPON POLICY AND KEEP IT WITH YOU. Always carry store policies in your binder and if you need to, reference it at the check out.

Lastly- Don’t be Afraid to Profile!

  • I always scan all the checkers and decide who is going to be best.
  • I have had the best luck with younger male checkers. Once you become a regular at a store, you will know who to go to.

I can’t wait to see your coupon binders. Submit your success stories and pictures!

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