Couponing for Beginners

by Kristi on January 2, 2010

What you need to know:
You will save money by using coupons! It takes time & energy to find the best ways to save, but in the end, it is so worth it.

Where to find coupons?

  • Start with the Sunday paper. Each Sunday, P&G, RedPlum and SmartSource among others, put out coupon inserts in the paper. Usually, the only time you won’t find coupons is on a holiday. If you have neighbors that get the paper, but don’t use the inserts, ask if you can have their inserts!! If you aren’t that bold, you can buy multiple papers or drop by convenience stores late Sunday night or early Monday mornings to ask for their leftovers. Here is a list of inserts coming out in 2010 and you can find weekly Sunday insert previews here.
  • Many stores have “Store Coupons.” This means that they are only good for their store. You can combine these with manufacturer/insert/printable coupons to save big money! Look for Store coupon booklets near checkout area & as you enter the store. If in doubt, you can always ask someone at the customer service desk.
  • Browse the aisles of your local grocery store for Blinkies , Tearpads, Hangtags and Peelies. Blinkies are coupons generated by a machine (known for a blinking light designed to attract your attention). Tear pads are usually found attached to the shelf where the said product can be found and is put out by the manufacturer of that item. Hangtags “hang” on the items, usually bottled products and wine. Peelies can be found directly on the item. Most of these coupons are good at any store, so it is good to hold on to them until you find the best deal to use them!
  • Many grocery stores have Catalina machines which print store specific coupons at the end of your transaction. If your grocery store has self-checkout lanes, check to see if there are any extra Catalinas laying around (as many non-couponers just leave them behind). These are not like normal Store coupons that can be combined with Manufacturer’s coupons.
  • Internet Printable coupons (IPs) are becoming increasingly popular. Besides the manufacturer websites, you can also find printable coupons on sites such as SmartSource , Coupons.com, Betty Crocker, and RedPlum. On certain manufacturer websites, you will also find Bricks Coupons. What you need to know about Bricks is that you can only print 2 per computer by hitting the back button.
  • Many grocery stores are getting in on the newest wave of couponing, the e-coupon. Instead of printing out the coupon, you attach the coupon to your grocery store’s discount card. The best part about the E-coupon is that you can pair it with any other paper coupon to get maximum savings. Here are some of my favorite e-coupon sites:
    Shortcuts
    P&G esaver
    Upromise
    Lowes Food Instasave
    Cellfire
  • While Cellfire offers e-coupons that attach to your grocery card, it also offers to download the coupons to your cell phone. To take advantage of this, you first must make sure that your phone is compatible with Cellfire’s technology.
  • Emailing companies directly can get you some great coupons that aren’t generally available to the public by other means. I can’t tell you how many FREE product coupons I have received just by complimenting a company! Here is a list of those companies I have contacted and what I have received.
  • Yes, you can actually purchase coupons. I usually only do this if I know there is a big sale coming up for a product that I love or know I can get for FREE by using the coupon. Couponclippers is my favorite site, but there are others listed on my blog that are great deals too!
How to get the most out of your coupons
  • The key to getting the most for your money is to match coupons with sales. For example, your local grocer has their regulary priced $1.49 mustard on sale for .99 and you have a .50 off coupon. You will only pay .49!
  • Many grocery stores like Target also have store coupons. You can combine store & manufacturer coupons! So, if your store had a .50 off mustard coupon & you had an insert or IP coupon for that same mustard for .50 off, you would get it for FREE!!
  • Some grocery stores double and triple coupons. This is the best way to get items for FREE! So if your grocer were to double that .50 off coupon on the mustard, you would get it FREE!!! Now, imagine if you had multiple coupons for that mustard???
  • Some coupons will say at the top “DO NOT DOUBLE” or “NOT SUBJECT TO DOUBLING,” so what is a girl to do? Look at the barcode. Each digit in that barcode means something. Learn how to read a coupon barcode to see if it will double. The key is to look at the first digit. If it is a 5 it should double, if it is a 9 it will not.
Coupon Organization
  • When I first started out couponing, I used a standard accordion holder that fit into my purse. Now that I am a little more advanced in couponing, I have found that using a binder works best for me.
  • Some people who don’t cut their coupons until they are ready to use them choose to use a clipless filing system.
  • You have to go with what works best for you, just keep in mind that you will need to make sure that you purge coupons that expire as you go along (usually end of the month).
Why buy it if I won’t use it?
  • So many people pass by the opportunity to get FREE products just because they won’t use it. If you can get it for FREE and you won’t use it, believe me, there are a number of organizations that will gladly take it off your hands!!! Here is a list of places you can donate:
SCHOOLS

CHURCHES (often they have thier own food ministry)

HOMELESS/ WOMEN’S SHELTERS

FOOD BANK/ FOOD PANTRIES

ANIMAL SHELTERS (you can even donate your pet coupons)

RED CROSS

{ 2 comments }

Mom and Wife June 14, 2010 at 12:12 am

I have never doubled a coupon…How do I do that? Am I just supposed to ask for it to be doubled?

Thanks for the great explaination for us rookies I am excited to get into this!

Libby

Kristi at Spend Less and Save More June 14, 2010 at 8:09 am

Hi Libby, not all stores double coupons but many do & usually it is listed on their website. Which stores do you shop at?

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