Saturday, April 24, 2010

Coupons101

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Coupons101

A little confused at how to start all this? I’ve got the details here on how to get you going on saving you and your family lots of money…and have fun at the same time!
First, click here to see where to get your coupons...because without those, we wouldn’t be here! The next step is to organize your coupons and there are lots of ways to do it. For some ideas, click here.
Good. Now that you have your coupons, and they are organized, time to shop! Well, sort of. Use this site as your guide to getting the best savings on your groceries, mall visits, and lots more. Every week I put up the weekly ad match-up for Price Chopper, CVS, Rite Aid, Walgreen’sand Wal-Mart. My suggestion is to view the match-up, print any printable coupons while you are viewing it, then print it out and bring it with you to the store. Or use it to make your list. Using any of the match-ups will save you money, but the BEST way to lower your grocery bill is to COMBINE the lists and use all of them together. Shopping at multiple stores brings your bill down drastically. And there are ways to cut down on the time spent doing this. For ideas on how, click here.
The last part of couponing and saving money, is STOCKING UP on all the non-perishable products you can while they are on sale. When something goes on sale and you can get it for less than $1 or FREE, buy a TON of it. Stores’ sales operate on a cycle, meaning that “every” item is promoted (put on sale) every so many weeks (usually 5-8 weeks). So, when something goes on sale, buy enough to last those 5-8 weeks.
Along with that, another part at saving money is brand loyalty, or rather NOT having brand loyalty. When is the last time you tried another brand of coffee? Or a different type of toilet paper or shampoo? Before I started couponing, I had been using the same brands of TP, shampoo and coffee for 10 years. 10 YEARS! Consumers don’t like change, and companies know it, so when a new product comes out they heavily advertise and promote it to get you to switch. Before I couponed, I never would have switched. But, NOW, I know that wasn’t very smart! And expensive! For example, just last week I bought some eight o’clock coffee at Price Chopper. I have always been a Folgers fan, but the Eight o’clock was on sale Buy One Get One Free, and I had a $2 printable making it $3.29 for 2 pounds of coffee. Pretty good - I can’t get Folgers for that price! So, I run out of my Folgers, and brew up at pot of the Eight O’Clock Coffee…and whatta you know? I like it BETTER than the Folgers! I never would have tried it before, but now I am so glad I did. The point is, its hard to try new things, but if its FREE or a really good deal why not? I will say though, I have tried lots of shampoos too, and found some I HATE and won’t buy again no matter the price...and some I really like and will use again if the price is right!
So that, in a nutshell, is Coupons101. Please feel free to contact me if you have any other questions or would like to comment!

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How to Organize your Coupons

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There are several ways to organize coupons these days to help you take advantage of all the money saving sites online (like mine!). Here are some different ways to do this, find a way that works for you!

First, you can do it the old fashion way...clip the coupons and throw them all in a box. When you go shopping, dig through the box for what you want and off you go! While this may seem funny, this was how I used to do it! I don't have time for that anymore so I adopted other methods.

Photo Credit to couponaudit.com
Like the accordian file shown above. This works in more ways than one. You can save all the inserts and file them by date, or clip the coupons and organize them by product or category. The insert method will save you the most time.

The above method utilizes a binder with photo sleeves used as holders for clipped coupons. This is great for those that want to bring your binder to the store with you in case you see a deal that wasn't advertised and know you have a coupon for it. Most people have this organized by product category, but you could clip the coupons and separate them by insert date so you can use match-ups but still have all your coupons at your fingertips.

Next is the method I prefer. This involves no time clipping when you get the coupons. You write the date on the front of the insert, then put the whole insert into a plastic sleeve (like for reports). They can then be separated by tabs with Proctor & Gamble, Red Plum and Smart Source. Then, you can do the same with your printables. I separate mine by store or category, depending on how many are on a page. For loose coupons you can add a section of the photo sleeve holders to organize those.



For those Uber Couponers, the above system is great! If you get multiple copies of the newspaper (more than 2)..this is the way to organize them. Write the date on each insert, and then date each cubby hole. keep one or two of the cubbies for loose coupons.
There are other ways as well to organize your coupons, these just happen to be the most popular methods. How do you do it? Comment below!

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Getting the BEST deals at the most stores

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If you are lucky enough to have more than one type of store around you, i.e. a drug store, grocery stores and Wal-Mart or Target...you can get a TON of deals! The hard part is finding the time to go to all the stores to pick-up the deals.


Here is how I do it and save time:

1) I wait and do all my shopping together in one session if I can. I plan it so my route takes me past all of the stores I want to go to, hopefully saving gas by not back tracking.
2) When I see my stores’ match-ups, I print it and gather all my coupons that I want to use at that store, along with a list. I do this for each store that I have coupons and a match-up for.
3) Next, I have a medium size accordian file that I bring in with me to each store. Inside I have the separate files labeled by STORE, and its there that I put my coupons for that store and my list.
4) Last, I head to each store and when I get inside, I take out my coupons and hold them in my hand. This is important for two reasons...impulse buying and knowing which coupons you have used. Its hard to impulse buy when one of your hands is already full! And keeping them in hand keeps me on track so I don’t dilly dally. Once I find the item I want, I put the coupon BACK into the file under the store and take them out again at check-out. This saves time at check-out so you don’t mistakenly give the cashier a coupon you didn’t use, and you don’t have to try and figure out which coupons you did end up using. Any coupons I decided not to use, or couldn’t because the store was out of an item, I put in the back of the file to refile when I get home.

That’s it! It works for me. Please let me know how you save time doing multiple location shopping!


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Where do you find all your coupons?

*I have included some sites and stores, they are not the only sites and stores for that particular category, just ones I use often or know they fill that particular category.

1. Newspaper- a little obvious, but with all the printables, it can be a little easy to overlook. If you don't subscribe to a newspaper, try these places to get one or two or three... Also, they might be willing to give you just the ads! The answers here have been tested by other couponers!
-library, nursing home, coffee place, any breakfast place that has newspapers out (some fast food places, etc.), doctor's offices, your next door neighbor (my husband's grandmother saves hers for me), some newspaper offices have places for leftover ads, post offices (same thing), recycle places

2. Printable Coupon Websites
Good- you get to print just coupons you want, good variety, changes a lot
What to watch for- may have a limit (you may only be able to print so many or you may miss out b/c others have printed them all...sometimes the coupon will reset), some stores may not accept (though most are accepting them now...check their policy before going), need to print in color
Coupons.com
Red Plum


3. Store Website Printable Coupons - same as above, may only be for this particular store so pay attention to type of coupon, good to use for stacking with a manufacture coupon, sometimes you have to sign up for the store newsletter in order to get the coupons, some are really just red plum or coupons.com
Target, Price Chopper

4. Mobile Coupons - Give the store your cell number so they can send you coupons on your phone
Target

5. Mobile/Card Coupons- text a code to the store and they will put the coupons on your loyalty card or use a site to do the same thing, for some stores you will probably have to sign up for their e-mails to get the code, Kroger will put your coupons on the card from their site
Cellfire

6. Manufacture Websites- Get it straight from the horse's mouth :) Sometimes you have to sign up for a newsletter, they change so print while you are there, can be a good value
P&G
Pampers
Marcal

7. Military Coupon Sites
Military Lifestyle Coupons
Maxi Saver Coupons
Smart Source Military Coupons

8. In stores
Look around! You can find lots of coupons on the items (peelies), next to the price (tear offs), on the shelves, in the little coupon machines in front of the items (blinkies)....Keep your eyes open! Take a sales flyer when you come in the door! At CVS or Price Chopper, use your card to check their coupon machine.

9. On/with your receipt
Check all that stuff that prints out with your receipt (catalinas) and check the back of your receipt. Lots of good coupons come with that because lots of times it's based on what you have bought and lots of times they are instore coupons so they are stackable!

10. Facebook- become a fan (or "like") your favorite brands. Check out their page or wait for them to tell you when a coupon is available!
Oreo
Tide

11. Magazines - I haven't seen a magazine with more coupons than All You! It has great coupons and good value ones! Look through your favorite magazine, you'd be surprised to see coupons hiding among the ads!

You tell me...what did I miss? Where do you find your coupons?


*Check out the right side of this blog under "Coupons" for links*

Thank you to Sarah, MyMilitaryMommy for compiling this list and sharing!

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