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).

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