Learning How to Coupon from the Ground Up!

couponsCoupon Abbreviations

SS - Smartsource (newspaper insert)
RP - Redplum (newspaper insert)
PG - Proctor and Gamble (newspaper insert)
AY - All YouAll You magazine (a magazine that has a ton of high value coupons – a must for couponers!)
B1G1F - Buy 1 Get 1 Free
Blinkie - a coupon from a store machine
Peelie - a coupon that is found on the package (peels off)
CRT - coupons found on a cash register tape
Catalina - coupons that print out at the register
$/$$ - the first $ is the amount off and the second $$ is for the amount you have to spend
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Printable Coupon Sites

Betty Crocker
Cellfire (this site has coupons you upload to your store card)Coupon Bug
Coupons – this site has TONS of coupons that update often
Coupons and SavingsEat Better America (some organic)
HealthESavers (organic)
Kellogg’sKnudson (some organic)
Mambo Sprouts (organic)
My Organic Market (organic)
Organic Valley (organic)
Redplum
Smartsource
Start Making Choices
ValPak
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Purchasing Coupons

Ebay (if you shop at Ebay make sure to sign up for an Ebates account first and use their link to go to Ebay – it will give you an additional 1% back on your purchase, which adds up!)
The Coupon Clippers

The Coupon Master

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Three Steps To Using Coupons
 

coupons
Get the coupons!

You should always get a Sunday paper. You can do this by subscribing, working it into your Walgreens or CVS deal, friends/family, or recycling centers.

You can purchase coupons in larger lots via ebay or a coupon clipping service. When I started couponing I did it this way. Now, I only do that if I see a really good deal. Add the cost of the coupons into your savings calculation to make sure it is worth it and keep in mind that the product may go out of stock and you will be left with the coupons you paid for.

There are many sites that you can print coupons at. If you are in the market for a new printer then take a look at Laser Printers. I bought a laser printer with a “trial” toner cartridge that prints over 1000 pages! The regular cartridge is around $50, but it prints around 3000 pages. I paid around $90 for the setup. Inkjet printers will go through a lot of ink if you need to print a lot of coupons.

Sign up for vocalpoint and other snail mail rebate sites like Homemade Simple. Snail mail coupons are usually high value! You can get additional coupons by calling companies you like and leaving a compliment :-)

Clip your coupons!

I think you should always clip at least the first newspaper. Take them with you to the store. It is really frustrating to come across a sale that you know matches a coupon you have at home.

If you do not want to clip then organize them by date and type of insert.  When you need a coupon you can look it up and clip it on the spot.


Organize your coupons!

Binder Method – file your coupons in baseball card holders put in a binder. You can see the coupons easily this way!

Traditional Expandable File – this is my method of choice, but I only get one newspaper a week. If you are planning on more than you will need to go with a larger system.  File your coupons in the different sections based on type (you can choose the titles)

Tupperware/shoebox and Envelope - Just like an expandable file but much larger – put your envelopes in to separate the categories.

Filing your inserts – this works great except you will not be able to match coupons when you are in the store.  When you need a coupon you can look it up by date and type (1/3 SS would be the SmartSource insert from January 3rd) and clip the coupon before you go to the store.

Pick something that works for you and change it around until you determine it is perfect :)
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couponsCoupon Tips

  • Give your store coupons first. Manufacturer coupons can take off tax so if you use store coupons first and end up with overage then it will still go through. Also, if you have a $/$$ coupon then the amount you spend will be before coupons if you use it first.
  • Call your store to find out if they will take printables. Each store is different, sometimes even the same store chain is different because of the different owners/managers. Most stores will as long as they are Bricks coupons. You can tell them to search the code online in order to verify the coupon.
  • If there is an item you want that is out of stock at the store get a raincheck! That will be good for 30 days and you can wait for an even better coupon to come ou.
  • You can use one manufacturer coupon per item. If a coupon is off of 2 items then the coupon counts for both. If it is a Buy one get one free coupon then the coupon is for the FREE item only so you can use a second coupon on the item you are buying.

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Different Coupon Levelscoupons

  • Minimal Time Invested – Look at the matchups at the start of the week, purchase the coupons you need from a clipping service and shop at the end of the week before the ad expires. 

On average this method cost me $12 a month and I would save 30-50% (for me that is an average of $160 in savings a month) . Time spent getting my coupons was about 1 hour a month.

PROS- No organization (or very little) was needed! My coupons showed up before I needed them and I could get multiple coupons easily. The time invested was low, all I had to do is pull up the ad and match the coupons – you can even find a blog that does that part for you!

CONS – If an item was on sale and I didn’t order the coupon I was out of luck, if the coupon was in high demand then it would sometimes be out of stock, and I would sometimes end up with a coupon that I paid for and the item wasn’t in stock at the store. I also had to come up with a shopping list that would work for two weeks which meant I missed a weeks worth of sales. If you do not have a CVS and Walgreens then you probably can’t purchase enough coupons to make it worthwhile.

  • Medium Time Invested- Purchase one newspaper a week. Clip and organize the coupons and take your organizer with you to the store. Pull out the coupons you know you will need (from your list), but have my organizer in case something else is on sale.

This method costs me $5 a month and I save 60-80% of my bill (for me that is an average of $280 in savings a month). Time spent getting, clipping, and filing my coupons is about 6 hours a month. I try to do this while we are watching a movie so I am not “wasting” as much time.

PROS – I was frustrated with the first system above mainly because I would spend more than the cost of a newspaper to get a few coupons I needed. This way I have the coupons available when I need them.

CONS – There is more time involved. I have to search for the coupons I need instead of them coming in an envelope (it doesn’t take too much time to do this, but it does take longer than the first method). It is hard to get doubles of coupons so if I really want them then I have to order them anyway.

  • “High” time invested – Purchase multiple papers per week (5-10 is usually good.  To limit the time spent it is a good idea to clip and organize the first paper and then file the other papers by coupon type and date.

If you have to purchase 5-10 newspapers a week then your cost will be $25-$50 a month. You can lower this if you get your newspapers from friends, family, neighbors, recycling centers, etc. Most people who get this many newspapers report 80-90% savings on their bill (for me that would average $340 a month). The time commitment if you separated and filed your extra coupons would be about 8 hours a month. If you clipped and filed all of them then it would be about 27 hours a month.

PROS – You can save the most this way! It is easy to look up the coupons using the date method. You never have to worry about finding extra coupons – you can take full advantage of every sale.

CONS – The cost is high. The time spent is high. If you have a way to get free inserts then I think it is worth it. I don’t so to spend an extra $20-$45 a month wasn’t worth the extra $60 a month in savings (for me).

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Tanya January 31, 2009 at 2:11 pm

Thanks! I’m using coupons more – last week was the first time I made a concerted effort and the feeling when it paid off was great – not to mention the savings.

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2 LittlePeopleWealth January 31, 2009 at 9:44 pm

You’re welcome! Once you get used to using coupons you will wonder why you didn’t use them before :)

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3 Coupon Mommie February 1, 2009 at 12:38 am

I totally have issues buying something without a coupon and really have to see how close to free I can get it.

PS. I so have to know where the picture of the binder with 10 coupons per page is from???? Please tell! Was it custom sewed and from what material?

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4 Christine February 1, 2009 at 3:51 am

Loving the binder in the picture too…do tell.

The information you have given here is amazing. What a valuable learning experience from someone who knows. I am trying to be better about meeting our monthly grocery budget (we are a family of 7) but it’s tough, add in 1 celiac into the mix (gluten free) budget gets tougher.
I need to be organized with coupons and I just haven’t found something that works for me yet, until I saw that binder…. hmmmmm
Will you let us know how or where you purchased that!?!

I promise to do better, can’t say I don’t understand after this blog entry, ’cause now I do!!
Thank you for your time and your efforts!

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5 LittlePeopleWealth February 1, 2009 at 6:00 pm

The binder is a hit! It is a regular binder with baseball card holders. You can put as many coupons as you want in each holder and then use those little tabs to mark the specific pages.

You don’t want to get the super cheap holders though b/c they will tear apart. The best place to get them is through ebay – you can get a lot of them for a decent price. Or, slowly work them into your CVS and walgreens deals. The last time I checked they still sold them :)

I don’t have a step by step for it though :( If somebody does then let me know and I’ll link to you! I’ll start looking for one :)

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6 Jackie January 6, 2011 at 8:10 pm

I actually found the way to set my binder up from one I saw on YouTube. It’s been awhile but I think you can just plug in something like “coupon binder method”, Hope this helps.

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7 Heidi January 7, 2011 at 12:31 am

That’s great Jackie. There are lots of ways to set up a coupon organization system and the baseball card binder is really popular.

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8 Coupon Mommie February 1, 2009 at 6:15 pm

I have the 9 per page baseball card holders that I picked up at a Hobby Lobby & Walmart which looks like picture one above.

You can see pictures of my binder here and how I have it organized here. The post needs to be a little updated but this is a pretty good view. I’m OCD so I started off with extensive subcategories which other people may not want to do but it helps me shop.

The binder in your second picture is the one I had commented on because it looks like it holds 10 per page instead of the 9 per page baseball holders. It looks like a scrapbooking book page that has been sewn. Did you know that you could sew custom pages? Check back with me soon on my blog. I heard you can do this and I will be trying it out myself and sharing my experience.

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9 LittlePeopleWealth February 1, 2009 at 10:12 pm

I love your binder coupon mommie! I had no idea that you could sew custom pages :) The picture with the 10 pages instead of 9 came from lftag.com – which is now a lasertag site, LOL. Whoever originally decided to share it has since given up their page.

I follow your blog right now so I’ll link to you when I see the post about making your own pages – that sounds great! It doesn’t hurt to drop me a message when you finish it just in case I miss it :) But, I should see it!

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10 outback self help May 6, 2009 at 2:43 am

my girlfriend and I would collect coupons and do our weekly shopping together, she would go to several stores and I go to the others.

we saved so much money this way and made us think before we speant.

It’s a fun to do with a friend.

nice post idea, brings back good memories

Thanks

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11 Fred Dupont May 6, 2009 at 3:45 pm

I can hardly imagine a dumber use of someone’s time…
Please don’t misunderstand me, my beef is with the producers and distributors, not with the persons collecting and using coupons; let me explain my point of view:

If producers and distributors can offer a better price (and they can, it is demonstrated by the coupons redux), why don’t they do it for everyone?
Why would they force people to either work harder to make a living and buy more expensive goods than necessary, or work harder to cut colorful pieces of paper in order to purchase goods at the right price?

This colossal waste of human resources is beyond my comprehension.

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12 LittlePeopleWealth September 11, 2009 at 1:29 am

Interesting point of view :) Here is the other side of it…

On the surface it may seem odd that they would produce a coupon if they can sell the product that much less – as you say – why not just offer that price for everyone?

Offering that price for everyone guarantees they not gross much of a profit – if any at all (many coupons paired with a sale and definitely the free after rebate deals mean that the manufacturer is not making money at all).

Businesses need a profit to continue.

But, coupons are CHEAP advertising! Especially the electronic and printable ones – you don't even pay for the ad. For the cost of about $1 you are getting a family to try your product, maybe like it enough to purchase it later at a higher price, maybe they will talk about it with friends and family, others will see them eating it, etc, etc…

Advertising in all it's forms can be considered a "colossal waste of human resources". Why do we sit through commercials and allow our roads to be littered with billboards? It works, plain and simple. If an advertiser takes out advertising then their product will be cheaper – but somewhere along the line they figured out that charging more and advertising actually made them more money.

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13 Heidi December 10, 2010 at 4:01 pm

Welcome Jayne, I post a list of organic printable coupons every other week. There are actually quite a few available (each list has over 100). The most recent list can still be found on the home page, but if it is no longer there then click on the “coupons” category in the left sidebar. Brown Cow and Earthbound Farms are two of the better companies to sign up with for snail mail coupons. They seem to send them fairly often.

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14 Ray Ban July 6, 2011 at 2:30 am

Thank you for sharing so wonderful post !

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15 rene July 13, 2011 at 4:12 pm

I am looking for a way to send off my coupons that i dont use to someone that can use them. I send my expired one to the military family groups so now i want to find a way to send the coupons i dont use like a chain to get coupons i can use and someone else coupons they can use any help on this would be nice thanks rene’

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16 Heidi July 16, 2011 at 6:00 pm

That is a great way to use coupons you are not going to use yourself. What you are describing is a coupon train – you send your coupons to somebody who takes the ones they want and adds ones they do not and sends them to the next person on the train. You can find coupon trains that you can join at We Use Coupons (a coupon forum).

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17 Jon Haver May 29, 2013 at 8:52 pm

Coupons are great and they can really save you a lot of money. People underestimate them because of the low value of the saving , but they don’t think about the long term effect that they have. Low value savings add up, and on the long run, you will find yourself saving a lot of money !
Jon Haver recently posted..Best Student Loan BlogsMy Profile

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18 Heidi June 23, 2013 at 6:41 pm

They really do save a lot! Anybody who doubts it should put aside the amount they are saving each time they use a coupon and watch the account grow. It will be an eye-opener.
Heidi recently posted..New #Printable #Coupons for #JanuaryMy Profile

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