Guide to Getting Started
Many of you have already learned that couponing is much more than JUST handing over a coupon at the store. If you are just getting started with couponing it might be quite overwhelming for you. There are lots of new things to learn when couponing and Saving a Bundle has lots of information to help you get started!
Click on the following articles to read them individually or scroll down and dig in to it all!
- Collecting a Nice Stash of Coupons
- Organizing Coupons
- The Coupon Language
- Timing Is Everything
- Plan Shopping Trips
- Know Your Store
- Tips to Avoid Couponing Mistakes
- Rainchecks, A Powerful Tool
- Save on Healthy Foods too!
- Ten Reasons to Coupon
Maximize Time & Money Series
- Maximize Time & Money While Printing Coupons
- Maximize Your Time While Organizing Coupons
- Is Couponing Worth Your Time (ask the readers)?
Collecting a Nice Stash of Coupons
First step on the road to getting started couponing is collecting coupons. There are a lot of coupon sources, see them all below!
To collect Sunday paper coupons you can buy the paper (Discounted Newspaper Subscriptions is one option). If you don’t won’t to buy a subscription be sure to ask your neighbors, friends, and co-workers who might not use theirs to put them into your hands. You can also visit the newspaper recycle bin or an apartment complex next to the mailboxes on Sunday or Tuesday. In the Sunday paper you will find inserts from Smart Source, and Proctor and Gamble, Kelloggs, and General Mills. Some areas will have the Red Plum delivered by the mail carries on Tuesdays instead of in the Sunday paper (most of the Memphis area receives Red Plum on Tuesday). Keep in mind there are a few weeks during the year that have no coupon inserts on Sundays. Check out the weekly Sunday Insert Schedule here.
The coupon match-ups will refer to the date you received the insert and name, for example, 8/7/11 RP. For the Memphis area, if you are using the Print and Clip method (see Organizing Coupons) when you receive the RP insert on Tuesday write the upcoming Sunday’s date on the front. All match-ups and coupon databases refer to the Sunday date.
GM – General Mills
PG-Proctor and Gamble
While there are people who buy multiple Sunday Papers I personally have found that the majority of my coupons are printable coupons and I do just fine with one Sunday paper.
There are a lot of new printable coupon offers every day. The following is a list of the biggest coupons sites.
A few of these site will require you to set up an account before you print their coupons. To keep your personal e-mail clutter free, I recommend that you open an e-mail account that will be used for junk mail-mine receives thousands of e-mails every month! keeping up with them can be from baby to groceries to restaurant offers.
- Coupon Network
- Eat Better America (GM)
- Box Tops 4 Education (GM)
- Betty Crocker (GM)
- Pillsbury (GM)
- Home Solutions
- Target (Manufacturer & Store Coupons)
- Snack Picks
- All You
- Right At Home (Johnson Family Brands)
*It is important to note that the General Mills sites are all linked together so once you print two prints per coupon from one site they will be out of prints on the rest of the General Mills sites. It does have to be the exact coupons, so if they are different amounts on each site print away!
Usually, you can print two copies per coupon per computer. Just hit the “back” or “refresh” button after the first one has printed. I have found that the Smartsource coupons have to be printed through the source twice. You will not be able to hit the “back” button. The first time you print from any site, you will be asked do download their software. This necessary steps aids in proper coupon printing. If you have a Swagbucks account you can earn points by printing and redeeming Coupons.com coupons.
You may also notice that some of the coupons you print will read “do not double or triple”. I have found that if the coupon’s bar code starts with a 5 on the far left it will double anyway; however, if the bar code begins with a 9 it will not double.
Manufacturers will often have coupons you can print directly from their website. A good place to help you find these special offers is through a coupon database. I like to use the database at Afullcup or moneysavingmom. Type in a product name and the database will pull up any current coupons on this item including any printable coupons if offered at that time.
A word of caution, there are fraudulent coupons out there. If you stick with the reputable sites you should be fine. If you have questions run a goggle search or check CIC to know if a certain coupon is fraud.
Samples, eClubs, Contact Manufacturer
1. Be sure you register with retailers & restaurants you visit the most, you never know what kind of discounts, coupons, and offers that may be delivered to your inbox. Check the retailers website or talk to customer service.
Kroger stores nation wide does send out coupons via mail. When you sign up for the Kroger card there will be a special box that states I do not wish to receive communications from Kroger. DO NOT check this box if you want them to send you coupons. You can also call customer service 1-866-221-4141 to find out if you are on the mailing list.
2. Sign up for samples because often times a coupon will come with the sample. Be sure to “Like” Savingabundle on Facebook as I send notifications when FREE samples are available.
3. Manufacturer websites and companies often have promotions that you sign up to receive a coupon booklet or a FREE trial of their product. I will blog about any offers that come available.
4. Submit a review of your favorite products. This can be done by visiting a manufacturer site and clicking on the “contact us” link. Many companies will reward you with coupons and sometimes even a coupon for a free product. See a LONG list of manufacturers to contact for coupons.
Peelies, Tearpads, Blinkies, Hangtags
Tearpads, pads that you tear the coupon off, are typically found in stores near the product. Blinkies are the little black coupon machines found throughout stores. Peelies and hangtags are found on the product itself. Always be on the lookout for these!
These are printed from the Catalina machine when you checkout at Kroger, Target, and Walgreens. A Catalina can be a rebate, a coupon, an advertisement, or an On Your Next Order Catalina coupon. It’s hard to know when you are going to receive a Catalina offer, except for the OYNO Catalinas. The catalina’s are national Catalina offers, not store deals. Quite often the Catalina offers are not in the ad. I use forums such as A Full Cup and Slick Deals to keep up with them.
OYNO Catalinas are earned by purchasing specific products during a promotion.View a list of OYNO Catlina offers on Coupon Network. Usually a Catalina deal works like this buy 2 of a product get $1.50 OYNO, buy 3 get $2.50 OYNO, buy 4 get $3.00, buy 5 or more get $3.50 OYNO. Sometimes it can be a purchase so much of a product get a dollar amount Catalina back.
The OYNO coupons can be used on your next order just like you would use cash meaning you can use it to purchase anything.
The Memphis edition of the Entertainment Book includes twelve $5.00/$75.00 coupons (one for each month starting with November), and one $5.00/$50.00 coupon (to use anytime). These coupons are used before all paper coupons, after all e-coupons and Kroger instant credit deals. I especially like to use these coupons when Kroger has their Mega Event Sale.
There are hundreds of other coupons included in the book as well. If you order online through Ebates, you can get cash back when you buy the book. If you are a new Ebates customer you’ll also get a $5.00 sign-up bonus.
Quite often there will be brochures at pharmacies, doctor’s offices, gas stations, etc. These will sometimes include coupons so always be on the lookout for these.
The All You Magazine is a great couponing resource but can only be purchased at Walmart for about $2.42 or online. Purchase 2-year subscription on Amazon for $1.42 an issue OR buy it from Magazines.com through Ebates for up to 26% cashback to pay $1.05 an issue! Check out the coupons that were in the most recent issue here.
Most stores will allow you to stack a manufacturer and a store coupon on one item. This technique can be a great money saver! All stores have different policies so be sure and check before you shop. Generally all Targets and Walgreens will let you do this.
1. In-ad coupons. Walgreens has in-ad coupons in their weekly ad that you can stack with manufacturer coupons. Walgreens typically has many coupon booklets available at one time, view the current ones here.
2. Target has their own store coupons available for print on the Target website.
Cellfire. They ask for your cell phone number to sign up, but you can also use your home phone if you don’t plan on using the mobile phone coupons. Cellfire is different than the other e-coupon providers because you can use your mobile phone to redeem your coupons. All you do is load the coupons on your account, when you are at the store pull up your saved offers and show the special code to the cashier. If you want to learn more watch the How to use Cellfire video.
If there is a problem redeeming a Cellfire e-coupn click the “Contact Us” link on the top right of the page. Next you need to click the “Report a Grocery Redemption Problem” and then “Report Problem” if you answer no to all the questions.
Shortcuts If a coupon doesn’t come off, click “contact us” at the very bottom of the page. Select “Coupon Redemption” under the pick a topic box. They will ask you to pick a sub-topic select “My coupon didn’t redeem when I shopped.” They will then ask you to fill out the dispute form. Have your receipt and card number ready to fill in the necessary information.
SavingStar is a new e-coupon site, but it works a little differently than most of the eCoupon sites. Here’s how it works:
- Select the e-coupons you like on the website or mobile app, to load them to your store card.
- Once the card is scanned at checkout, and the products purchased, the coupon savings will be added to your SavingStar account. The savings will not lower the purchase total nor show up on the receipt, but the savings will get deposited into your account within 7-30 days depending upon where you shop.
- Once your SavingStar account reaches $5.00 choose to be paid via bank deposit, PayPal, Amazon gift card, or donation to charity.
Kroger’s eCoupon site combines the Cellfire and Shortcut eCoupons into one site. I show you how to tell the difference between the three here. If there is a coupon redemption problem call 1-888-553-3003, or e-mail email@example.com.
Upromise savings is deposited into a college savings account instead of from your total at the store. Call 1-888-434-9111 if you have any problems.
Read How To Save Money by Using eCoupons for more information.
Now that you are collecting coupons you need somewhere to put them. There are lots of different coupon organization methods, but in order to be a successful couponer you need to be able to find a coupon when it’s time to use it for a good deal.
Print and Cut
Leave the coupon booklets intact, write the date you received it on the front page. The coupon match-ups will refer to the date you received the insert and name, for example, 8/7/10 RP. All blog ad match-ups and coupon databases refer to the insert Sunday delivery date. Clip when you are ready to use a coupon. See an example here.
I used this method for a few months as I started couponing, along with the accordion file to keep my shopping trips organized.
These can usually be found at Wal-Mart and Target for a few dollars. Label each file alphabetically, by expiration date, or by product category. You could also use the print and cut method and use the accordion file for your weekly shopping store stash. See an example here.
Get a box of some sort: shoe box, Rubbermaid container, or a recipe box. Use envelopes or recipe cards to label each section by product categories, by expiration date, alphabetically, and store name. As you collect coupons cut and file. See an example here.
This is what I do and I love it. The biggest pro I noticed when I started this method was I had ALL of my coupons right in front of me when I shopped. So many times when I’m at the store, I find something on clearance or an unadvertised sale. I can quickly look through my book pull out the coupon that matches the sale and get a steal!
I bought a 3” binder from Target, with the accordion folder on the front. The very front zipper pocket, I use to put coupons that need to be filed.
I keep pens, a pair of scissors, highlighters, and a calculator inside the front pockets. The blue pencil pouch in the front is for coupons expiring that week. This helps me keep my binder up to date-it does get behind sometimes!
In the 3 ring binder my coupons are organized in 3×5 picture protectors by product categories. Baseball card holders work well too. I used the picture protectors because it’s what I had around the house. The Categories I use are; Baby, Cereal, Snacks, Cleaning, Medicine, Food, Fridge/Freezer, Drinks, Household, Toiletries, and store coupons. The coupons in each category are alphabetized by the product name so I can quickly find a coupon if needed.
In the very back I have page protectors that I fill with coupons I will most likely never use, restaurant coupons, receipts, and rebates.
The one complaint I have with my binder is there is no strap to make carrying it easier. As I usually have two kids with me when I shop it can be difficult getting this into the store.
If you are new to couponing keep it simple until you know what you want. If you’ve organized your coupons efficiently you will maximize savings by using the coupons before they expire and you will be able to find a coupon when you’re looking for it. Who knows maybe you’ll invent a new trend in coupon organization!
The Coupon Language
Couponing can be quite confusing for a beginner. If you haven’t discovered already, we couponers use a different language!
$5/$25 -A coupon that offers a discount of $5 whey you spend $25.00. These can be other amounts like $3/$15 or $10/$40.
$1/2 -A coupon that will save you one dollar on two items. Other examples of this $3/2 or $2/2.
BOGO-Buy One item Get One item FREE
B2GO-Buy 2 items Get One item FREE
Blinkies-Coupons that print from the black coupon dispensers found in stores (see picture above)
ECB-Extra Care Bucks, CVS rewards program (see picture to the left)
FAR-Free After Rebate, the item you purchase will be free after the rebate
FF-Firefox, sometimes there will be specific coupon links for those who use the FF browser
IE-Internet Explorer, sometimes there will be specific coupon links for those who use the IE browser
IP(Q)-Internet Printable coupon, coupons that can be printed from the Internet
MIR-Mail-In Rebate, a rebate form that is mailed in and either coupons, check, or cash card returned to you
OOP-Out Of Pocket, money you pay that comes from your pocket
OYNO-On Your Next Order, This is a coupon you receive for purchasing certain products. This coupon can be used on your next transaction just like cash. These are typically printed at grocery stores.
Peelie- A coupon that you peel-off the product
UPC- Universal Product Code, barcode for tracking items in stores
WYB-When You Buy, refers to purchasing items, $3.00 RR wyb 5
Y(M or S)MV-Your (Manager or Store) Might Vary, some stores allow certain deals some do not
These are the insert you could find in the Sunday Paper
RP- Red Plum aka Valassis, but most people go buy Red Plum
PG- Procter & Gamble
SS1-Smart Source, when there is more than one Smart Source insert
SS2-Smart Source, when there is more than one Smart Source insert
V- Valassis aka Red Plum
Timing Is Everything
One of the biggest mistakes shoppers make is using a coupon at the wrong time. I like to classify shoppers as “a coupon user” or “a couponer”. There is a HUGE difference between the two shoppers.
A COUPON USER is a shopper who collects a few coupons, usually they save only the coupons they know they will use, they head to the store and use the coupons on the items they need that week paying no attention to sales, deals, or Catalina’s.
A COUPONER is a shopper who actively collects and organizes coupons, and pays attention to and shops when there is a sale or special offer. Extreme couponers buy multiple coupons inserts/coupons, stockpile, and quite often will complete multiple transactions.
- Set Target Prices for products
- Stockpile when an item is at it’s Rock Bottom Price
- Find deals that save the maximum amount
Product Target Prices
Keeping track of product prices will help you know what’s a good deal and what’s not. Generally this knowledge comes with time as you shop around at the various stores, and begin to really pay attention to price. Some people however, like to make a price book or an excel file of products they use regularly.
What is a Target Price? A target price is a price at which you WILL PAY FOR AN ITEM. For example, My target price for toothpaste is FREE. There are so many coupons and deals for toothpaste that I stockpile when it’s free and wait for the next free deal to come along. I usually have plenty to give away too. My target price on cereal is $1, but I know that if it’s my family’s favorite I will allow a little more wiggle room.
Everyone’s target price is different. We all have different needs, live in different areas, and have different budgets. It will take beginner couponers some time to set target prices, but by setting target prices you will know if you should take advantage of the deal or not.
A sure way to save money is to stock up on an item when it’s at it’s rock bottom price. Just last week I was able to purchase 8 three packs of Scotch-Brite sponges for FREE. My target price on sponges is FREE so the next time I can get them for FREE I will buy more. That way I’m always getting sponges for FREE. This goes with any product, if there’s a great deal or sale where an item is at a very low price stock up!
As a beginner it can be difficult to stockpile and keep a budget at the same time. So take it slow, pick one or a few items each week to stockpile and work on it a week at a time. It also might be helpful to set aside a certain amount of your budget to stockpile each week. It is much better to stay within your budget than to splurge on stockpiling. It takes time to build a stockpile, so do your best and it will come in time.
Maximum savings will happen when you combine sales, coupons, and special offers. For example I buy an item and on this particular item I use a store coupon/e-coupon, manufacturer coupon, receive instant savings, earn a Catalina/Register Reward/ECB, and submit for a mail-in rebate. When using all five coupon saving techniques, maximum savings will be achieved. This kind of savings doesn’t happen all the time but it is common to earn at least three of the five coupon techniques on an item. You may view a few examples of maximum savings Paid $2.03, Saved 80 or 26 items at Walgreens, saved 102% at Kroger, and made $25 buying $260 worth at CVS.
I post regular store deals for the stores in the Memphis area to help you know what coupons, catalina’s, and rebates are available each week. I also have a Weekly Top 10 post which includes the top 10 deals of the week. These posts can help you to know when and where to use your coupon.
Plan Shopping Trips
One of the best things you can do to maximize savings is plan out your shopping trip before you get to the store. Writing a Shopping Plan will help you to stay within your budget, get you out of the store faster, and you will maximize your savings.
This is especially important when you plan on completing multiple transactions or if you’re shopping a Kroger Mega Event. Here are some suggested steps to writing a shopping plan:
I first start by writing out a basic menu plan for the week. I DO NOT find a recipe and put all the ingredients on my list. I check what’s in my pantry, review any sales, and then decide what items I need to buy. I typically only need to buy a few items, the rest comes from the stockpile in my pantry.
Write a Ruff draft
I view the weekly ads, ad-matchups for each store(blog), and e-coupons and write down everything I would like to get and the price. Those things that are most important get a star next to it.
Check Your Budget In order to stick to my food/household budget of $350.00 I have to be sure I’m keeping it as I shop. As I prepare for my final list I eliminate things that really aren’t necessary so that I do stay withing my budget.
•Write your Final List
Now it’s time to write the final list(s). As I write the list I pull out any coupons I plan on using and stick them in the stores folder, that way they are ready to whip out at checkout.
I usually shop at more than one store in each week so each store gets it’s own shopping list. Those shopping trips that require a little more planning would be: Kroger Mega Event Sales, Multiple Transactions, CVS ECB deals, and Walgreens Register Reward deals. These trips require that I have the exact amount of items needed and if I’m using a $/$$ coupon I need to be sure I reach the maximum amount so I can use that coupon. Here is an example of a CVS Shopping Trip List.
Know Your Store
One of the most crucial steps to couponing is to KNOW everything you can about the store that you shop at to maximize your savings.Every store is different in the coupons it offers and takes, deals, rewards, and coupon doubling.
The following list are the stores that I shop at and some of my favorite money savers at each store. Click on each store to read a detailed Know Your Store Post.
This is one store where I can usually walk out paying less than $2.00 every time because of the ECB’s, and $4/$20 coupons. This store has excellent customer service.
I shop here for quality produce and dairy for a great price. I also use their optical department, tire shop, coupons they send in the mail, insurance services, and more.
I love Kroger! They have great instant saving deals including the Mega Event, Manager Specials, $5/$75 coupons in the Entertainment Book, and e-coupons just to name a few of my favorite things!
Target has their own coupons I like to STACK with manufacturer coupons. I also like to watch their clearance specials.
Tips to Avoid Couponing Mistakes
There are lots of mistakes that can be made when couponing. I put together a list of some ways to avoid these mistakes below.
2. Be Patient-it takes time to build a stockpile. Continue to coupon and build a stockpile as the great deals come. After a few months you should notice your spending decreasing.
3. Small Transactions-Especially if you are brand new to couponing, take it slow and break up your trip into transactions. This will help you not miss any coupons and or problems that may arise.
5. Budget- Yes couponing saves lots of money, but budgeting can help you SAVE even more! How much are you spending right now? Keep track for a month or two and slowly try to lower your monthly spending-you might be surprised at where you end up!
6. Shop Without Kids. I find that I can take one child and be okay, but when I take more than that it costs me a mistake or dollar or two.
7. Don’t Shop Hungry. Everything looks so much better when your tummy growling at you!
8. Time is Money. Every store, Every deal, Every week might not be in your family’s best interest. Pick a few sales and stores you want to shop at each week.
9. Watch the Register. So many times I have missed an item priced wrong, or a coupon doesn’t come off the right way. Watch every move at the register to be sure you get the deal! Some stores (Schnucks, Kroger) give you FREE products if it rings up wrong.
10. Void Please. If you do get up to the register and something is not priced like you thought ask the cashier to void it off for you.
11. Get a Raincheck. If the store is out of an item get a raincheck!
12. Know Your Store. It’s very helpful to know the store’s policy and even print to take it with you!
13. Use Your Coupon at the Right Time! This is the difference between a couponer and coupon user-read more here.
14. Set Target Prices. Set your target price on items so when it comes to deciding what to buy that week you’ll know. For example, my target price for toothpaste FREE!
Rainchecks a Powerful Tool
Have you ever been to the store to find that the product you want is gone. A solution to this problem is RAIN CHECK.
What is a rain check?
A rain check is an I.O.U. for an item out of stock guaranteeing the sale price of the item at a later date. Usually the customer has at least a month to redeem the rain check.
How to receive a rain check?
If you find that items are not in stock go to the service counter and/or ask the clerk for a rain check. Be sure you know the exact item, price, etc. It is always helpful to have an add handy to show which product you’d like a rain check for. The clerk will write on the rain check the details of the product and when you will need to redeem it by. Be aware that rain checks are not offered for Catalina Offers and may not be offered for instant saving sales. Rain check policies can vary by store.
I suggest that you ask for more than you plan on buying. You can always buy less than the stated amount but not more once the rain check is written. After the rain check is written look it over to be sure the product, size, price is correct. Also be aware of the expiration date.
My local Walgreens manager will print the Register Reward, if it’s a RR deal that’s not in stock, along with a rain check with the item price. I was told that only the Store MANAGER is allowed to do this and even them some won’t know how or just won’t do this. CVS store may vary on their ECB rain check policies as well.
How to redeem a rain check?
Select the items stated, remember you can always buy less than the amount stated but not more. At the register hand over the rain check before the cashier rings up the products, they will have to key them in with the special price. You may use coupons on rain check items, just as you were purchasing them without a rain check.
Reader Renee shares her experience at CVS:
I have been trying to get that “gillette deal” and the refills for the “Off clip-ons” for about 2 weeks. (Oh, and the olives too, all from CVS) Each time I went in I’d just ask for a rain check. Well, today, I hit the jackpot! I got 3 refills for $1.99 sale price and used the $1.00 off coupon that came in the box. And I got the gillette body wash, buy one, get one free and they gave me the ECB’s for whatever you’re buying. (Just make sure they put the ECB on the rain check.) So, I paid $4.91 for 3 refills ($2.99 srp for 1) and 2 Gillette Men’s body wash ($4.00 srp each) The total would have been close to $20. With the ECB of $4.00, I paid 91 cents! I’m still waiting for the olives to be in stock again!
Next time you are in the store and find an empty shelf, don’t forget the power of the rain check!
Save Money on Healthy Foods Too
I have had several people tell me that all you can buy with coupons is junk food. This is certainly not true. I would say that while it is easier to find deals and coupons for processed and packaged foods, there are coupons and deals for healthy foods too.
Since I started couponing I feel that my family has starting eating better. How?
1. I can purchase healthy foods for great prices with coupons and deals. Before I began using coupons I wouldn’t buy expensive, healthy foods because I didn’t have the means to purchase them. With coupons and deals I can now do so. For example, a few weeks ago Target had a great deal on Kashi bars and Kashi cereal. I was able to buy 5 boxes of bars and 5 boxes of cereals for $1.84! Without coupons I would have paid $29.48 for this. Yes there are deals and coupons out there for the good stuff. Be on the lookout and stock up when it happens.
If you like a certain brand of food write the manufacturer and tell them! They might reward you with coupons and maybe even a free coupon item. There are many sites out there dedicated to helping you find organic deals and coupons. Visit two of them here and here.
2. I save hundreds of dollars each month on toiletry items, thus leaving more room in my budget for the healthy items I need to buy. I play the drug store game at Walgreens and CVS saving hundreds of dollars each month. This has cut my spending dramatically in this area leaving more room to buy healthy items that I need.
3. I shop Manager’s Specials. When Kroger and Schnuck’s mark down items for quick sale you will find a special tag on that item. Schnuck’s example is on the left and Kroger’s example on the right. I was able to purchase 1 lb. of ground chicken for $1.50. The yogurt was free when I used a manufacturer coupon and an e-coupon combined. I often find produce, dairy, and meat on a Manager’s special when I shop early in the morning at Kroger. Sometimes these items items are organic which really excites me!
4. I shop at Costco. I absolutely love Costco and find that they have great deals on produce and organic items-especially when they offer coupons. One of my favorite things to buy at Costco is Salmon. It is fresh, the best quality, and delicious.
Overall, I have found that using coupons helps me to have more room to buy healthy items that I don’t have a coupon for or is not on sale.
I hope this post has helped you understand the misconception that you can only buy junk food with coupons. If you have any ideas, questions, or examples please share!
Ten Reasons I Use Coupons
If you’ve never used coupons before you might ask yourself, “What’s the big deal? Why should I use coupons? Is is really worth my time?” If you are looking for ways to cut your budget, and save money then couponing is for you! Keep in mind there are different couponing levels for everyone as each family/person is different. I have enjoyed couponing immensely and hope that you will too.
1. Save money. There’s no doubt about this. When you use a coupon you save money. The more you use the more you save! There are many different kinds of coupons and ways to use them.
2. Brand name products are less expensive than store brand products-AND BETTER. Before I started using coupons I always bought the product with the lowest price. Usually the store brand had the lowest price so that’s what I bought. I rarely bought name brand items-couponing has changed this. I now purchase products that are on sale and have a coupon to match with it. The brand name products are now within my budget, because most of the coupons available are for brand name products.
3. Live on One Income. Using couopns saves my family hundreds of dollars each month. I like to think of couponing as a part-time job. I clip and use coupons to save hundreds of dollars each month. Using coupons allows me to stay at home with my 2 year old and 5 year old instead of taking a job outside of the home to cover the costs I would incur if I didn’t use coupons.
4. Smarter Shopping. Overall, couponing has turned me into a smarter shopper. Before I buy anything I ask myself, “Is there a coupon I can use?” It’s surprising to me how many coupons there are out there-coupons are not just for food and household products. Find coupons in papers, magazines, Value Pack mailings, and on the internet. Coupons and deals are everywhere for most everything out there!
5. Stretches the Budget. Using coupons helps pay for other items that are on the shopping list which do not have a coupon. One example of this is diapers. I am a regular Walgreens shopper and will often times make money by rolling my register rewards. I use the register rewards to purchase diapers so I don’t have to pay the full price for them. Often times I only have to pay for taxes.
6. It’s Fun. Yes, using coupons can be fun! I love standing at the checkout to watch the total at $44.00 go down to $2.00!
7. Build a Stockpile. Couponing can help you build a stockpile so you have products when you need them. Have you ever had to make an emergency run to the closet store and come out blowing your week’s budget on one item? By using coupons ahead you could have bought the same item for pennies instead of dollars. I also find comfort in knowing that I have a very good supply of products in my home in case of an emergency.
8. Give to Others. I feel that couponing has been a tremendous blessing from God, so that I can share with others. There are a lot of great coupon deals each week. If there is something for free, I always buy the product because there are plenty of others out there that need what I’m buying for free. It’s a very sweet feeling when the person your giving to lights up because they know for them to buy these products would have cost them a lot.
9. Try New Products. Manufacturers often have special deals, coupons, and offers when they are promoting a new product. My favorite is the FREE COUPON-take the coupon to the store and get it for free. Other times, by matching a great deal and a coupon together you can purchase new products for next to nothing. Drug stores promote new products with their reward programs as well. I enjoy trying new things, especially for a great deal!
10. Save on Healthy Foods. I have had several people tell me that ALL you can buy with coupons is junk food. I would say that while it is easier to find deals and coupons for processed and packaged foods, there are coupons and deals for healthy foods too.
Well that sums it up! I have very much enjoyed the journey of couponing and can’t wait to see what’s in store.
Maximize Time & Money While Printing Coupons
While there are many ways to collect coupons, you may want to consider which methods are better for you. If you find that the Sunday Paper insert are going to waste, stop paying for it! Use the other methods of collecting coupons including one of the most popular ways to collect coupons, printing.
More than half the coupons I use are printable coupons, so I find that one Sunday paper is enough for me. I do have four computers to print from and a computer whiz husband, which helps a lot when things aren’t printing right. If I had to choose one method of collecting coupons it would be printing them.
There are lots of costs that come with printing coupons, here are a few suggestions to help you cut costs.
1. Set your printer to Toner Save Mode or Fast Draft. Some printers won’t print the coupons well enough, so test this out first to know what works best for your printer.
2. Don’t print in color! The color ink is so expensive and unnecessary. Change your setting to print only black and white.
3. Buy paper in bulk or on sale. Paper can be expensive as well so watch for deals and/or buy your paper in bulk. Walmart has a good price on paper as well-however back to school time it is usually $1 cheaper than other times of the year. You can also use your Register Rewards, ECBs, +Up Rewards to help pay for paper when the drugstores have it on sale.
4. Be careful how you select your coupons to print. Coupons.com and Smartsource typically print three coupons to a page so as you print, print in increments of three.
5. Reuse paper. If you do have a coupon print on only the top half stick it back in the printer to print on the bottom half. If you can’t print on the paper twice cut it and use it as scrap paper. I have a full drawer full of paper from coupon cutting that is used to color, write notes, etc.
6. Shop around for ink/toner refill deals. When I had an ink jet printer I found that it was cheaper to buy a pack of three at Costco than a single cartridge elsewhere so look around before you buy! I buy my toner refills online mostly through Amazon using Swagbucks I’ve earned. Others have had success recycling ink/toner to save, refilling their own ink, and buying refilled cartridges/toners.
7. Print the coupons you’ll use. This one can be hard at times because there’s so many great coupons out there. I try to print only the coupons I know I’m going to use. I also print the really good high value coupons that I could possibly get great deals from. As deals come along and I plan my shopping trips I print other coupons.
8. Consider the cost of ink vs. laser. I currently have a Brother Laser Printer which I LOVE! It is so fast, efficient, and so far problem FREE. I have had it about two years now and am amazed at how much ink it’s saved us. In the last two years we have purchased three laser toner refills at about $20 each (the third one was just replaced two week ago, so it should last us into the spring).
Before the Brother, I printed from an HP deskjet which requires the ink cartridges. The inkjets don’t print as crisp and clear and the pages printed per cartridge was a lot lower. I had many problems redeeming my printable coupons because they wouldn’t scan and of course the stores wouldn’t take them. Since I bought the laser printed I haven’t had a single issue.
Keep in mind this is my experience and you don’t need to run out and buy a laser printer today. Do look at all of your options and decide what you think will be the most beneficial to saving you time and money.
Maximize Your Time While Organizing Coupons
The first step to organizing coupons is to find a coupon organization method that works for you. View the many ways to organize coupons and examples here.
Here are a few suggestions to help you decide what method(s) will work best for you:
File Sunday Inserts. When you receive the Sunday paper label the first page of the inserts with the current date and clip the coupons inside only when you’re ready to use. Blog match-ups refer to the coupon insert date making it easy to find the coupon you’re looking for. You can also use coupon databases to help locate a coupon. I like to use A Full Cup, and Money Saving Mom databases.
Clip and File Sunday Inserts. When you receive the Sunday paper label the first page of the inserts with the current date, clip the coupons you think you’ll use, and file them in your coupon binder/box/folder. Clip the other coupons as needed.
Clip Entire Sunday Inserts, Printable Coupons, and Other Coupons. I have tried all the different ways and right now this method works best for me. It does take more time than the other methods, but I like to have my coupons labeled in a way that I can get to them quickly in the store. I often will find an unadvertised deal or manager’s special and this method helps me save money on those items.
Tip: I try to clip, sort, and file when I know I’m going to be sitting, talking, or waiting, such as: having a long conversation on the telephone, waiting for my kids at school or practice, in the doctors office, traveling, or watching a movie.
Tip: I have several protector sheets in the back of my binder that I stuff coupons I really don’t think I’ll use saving time alphabetizing. These are coupons such as pet, coffee, health, etc.
Tip: If you receive multiple inserts, or print the same coupon many times stack the pages together and cut in bulk. You could try using a rotary paper cutter.
Tip: If you know you’re going to use a coupon stick it in the store shopping folder that way you don’t have to touch it again-or not until your ready to hand it to the cashier.
Tip an Anonymous reader shared: The only thing that is hard to grocery shop on a whim when my coupons are not cut and in my binder. So when I get too far behind I get the hubbie invloved…all it takes is a little bribe of ice cream and he is on board! No matter how much time I have to give to couponing it is always worth it!!!
Ask the Readers: Is Couponing Worth Your Time?
I firmly believe that if you are looking for ways to cut your budget, and save money then couponing is for you! It is very important to understand that there are different levels of couponing for everyone as each family/person is different. However, I believe that anybody can save money couponing, even in just an hour or two a week.
I am currently working on a post with some ideas on how to maximize your time when couponing, but first I’d like to hear from you.