Couponing Basics

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

I wouldn't go as far as to say I'm an expert, but I've become quite good at combining coupons with sales and getting some great deals.  For those reading my "deal" posts who are new to the fabulous world of couponing, I just wanted to list a few tips to help you get the most out of your buck.  I'm going to try to keep it simple.
  1. Clip Coupons!  A no-brainer.  If you want the coupons, you're going to have to do a little leg work. 
    • Start by getting the Sunday newspapers.  For the few bucks you spend on the paper, you'll definitely get your return by using the coupons included.  I get the two local papers (JS & RRS) as well as the Chicago Tribune.  Haven't checked out USA Today or The Wall Street Journal yet, since these aren't usually available where I purchase my other papers.  I would love to hear from someone if these would be worth purchasing as well.  Have your non-couponing family or friends save the papers for you.  This way you get extras!
    • Search the Internet for coupons.  There are many sites that will let you print coupons right from your computer.  I have not had any difficulties redeeming Internet coupons.  Coupons.com is a great place to start.  You can view and print their coupons right from my site by clicking the Printable Coupons tab at the top of the page.  Couponmom.com is also a great site and will link you up to several other coupon sites.  You should also visit websites of your favorite products to look for printable coupons (Campbell's, Kellogg's, etc.).
    • You can also get coupons on eBay.com.  Just be careful to read sellers' feedback and don't pay too much.  You can typically get around 100-150 mixed coupons for $2 or $3, including shipping.  (Note: you are paying for the time for someone to clip and ship, not for the actual coupons themselves.)  Make sure they are manufacturer's coupons and check the expiration dates.  One good coupon will pay for the bunch. 
    • Get a few magazine subscriptions.  Again, one good coupon can pay for the subscription.  Example: I signed up for Parents Magazine and paid $12 for a 3-year subscription.  My very first issue had a $10 off Amazon Baby purchase, which I immediately used towards my monthly diaper purchase.
  2. Save Coupons!  I learned this the hard way.  When you are clipping coupons, look at each one and, if its not something you would normally purchase, consider this: Would you use the item if it were incredibly cheap?  For example, maybe you always use one brand of toothpaste or dish soap or whatever.  Would you be willing to switch if you could get another brand for next to nothing?  Save any coupon for a product that you would consider buying if it were the right price.
  3. Organize Your Coupons!  You can get a sturdy, coupon-size, accordian-style file folder at Wal Mart for under $5.  Don't get a paper one; it will fall apart going in and out of your purse.  Watch expiration dates so you don't miss out on a good save.  Plan your shopping trip out ahead of time.  Look at your sale circulars and compare with your coupons and make a list.  I sometimes go as far as to calculate it out so that when I'm at the register I'll know I'm getting the right prices and discounts.
  4. Start Saving!  Watch the flyers that are typically in the Sunday papers.  You can also visit store websites to view their circular ad.  Don't forget to double when you can!  Unfortunately, the grocery stores in my area don't typically double coupons, but many major chains do.  Kmart will occasionally double coupons as part of their sale.  They will indicate it in their circular and sometimes it is only for part of the sale duration.  Stock up on staple items if they are cheap.  I have tons of tomato soup because I found it on sale for  39 cents, plus I had additional coupons.  Once you have some items in stock, you'll find that you start spending less on your regular trips because you don't need the staple items so consistently.  Pledge, for example, is not so cheap anymore.  But I have about 5 cans right now because I paid less than $1 for each can.  Five cans should hold me over until there is a another really good coupon-combining sale.  We have about 10 tubes of toothpaste (all Colgate or Crest) because I paid $1 or less (some free!) for them all.  Same with deodarant, body wash, paper towels, etc.  You get the idea.
I hope this is helpful to the new couponer and encouraging to the non-couponer.  There is so much money to be saved!  I don't know why I didn't start much, much sooner.  It can be fun, as well   It's pretty satisfying to bring home so much for so little!  To my fellow couponers, please feel free to leave a comment if I've left out anything essential.  I've really only been doing this for a few months and I'm always looking for tips & tricks!

1 comments:

Patterson Family said...

A couple other sites for coupons are smartsource.com and redplum.com. I would also recommend the manufacturer's Facebook page.

Nice recap, Jessica!

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