New to Couponing?

Items bought for FREE with coupons

Items bought for FREE with coupons

So you want to learn the art and secret of the couponing world? I’m sure you’ve seen it everywhere, “Get paid to shop!” or “Save hundreds on your next shopping trip!” better yet, “Cut your grocery bill in half!” It really is possible. Its fairly easy too, just takes some dedication. Ever since the economy took a dive the source of coupons has soared. You can find coupons and deals everywhere now! Better yet, you can find a lot of freebies and free items with coupons now too! A lot of what you’re going to learn might seem overwhelming at first, but once you get a habit and system down that works for you, it will be like second nature. Couponing is considered a hobby to some, a lifestyle to most. You could do it for a week, a month, or a year and longer. Regardless of how long, or what way, you’re saving money and that’s what this is all about.

[Do you know the basics and want to know a quick run down of some tips/tricks. Click here. If you’re brand new to couponing, I’d definitely recommending reading whats written below. It is very beneficial and you could learn something new. Also, if you have a hard time understanding a quick list, this is written in a lot further depth.]

Additional Articles:

Coupon Binder How-To

(my) Store 101

Stockpiling 101

Getting the Coupons:

Now, the first step to saving money is getting the coupons! There are thousands of ways to get coupons. You can print them out, find them on products at the stores (these are referred to as “peelies”), receive them in email, or ‘snail mail’. There are tons of online resources that offer coupons; you can now order/buy coupons online, [Refer to my Coupon Sellers page.] print them, trade them, and so much more. The possibilities and resources really are endless!

Getting lots of coupons:

Now that you know where, now you need to know how many, and why get more than one. Now, before I begin this section, I want to remind you. You do not have to have more than one coupon to save money. You can save with just one coupon. We all don’t have the resources, money, or time to get hundreds of coupons a week. Why on earth would you even want to buy multiple newspapers? Well, that’s simple.

More coupons = More Savings. (Tip: Check out our Insert Schedule to see when the Sunday paper’s will have multiple inserts. These are the days you might want to consider buying multiple papers for those extra savings!)

Think of this example: You have a $2.00 off any 1 coupon for shampoo. That shampoo goes on sale for $1.50. You now get shampoo for $.50. Great! Now, if you had four (3) of the same coupon, you would get three for the price of one! What would you do with three shampoos? Well, that’s where Stockpiling comes in to play. If you’d like to read more on stockpiling please check out my Stockpiling Section.

There are tons of ways to get multiple sets of coupons. Ask your friends and family to save their coupon inserts that they don’t use in their paper. You’d be very surprised on how many people simply don’t bother because they don’t feel as though its worth their time! If they do use them, they sometimes only cut out the ones they use and toss out the rest. Go to local places that have papers available to the public: restaurants, libraries, etc. If you get their early enough, you can snag the coupons. If you live in an apartment/community – check the recycling bin. This is known as dumpster diving. Some couponers go to great lengths with this (Check out the “Dumpster Divers Tool Kit” at Hot Coupon World). Ask your local stores late Sunday night, or very early Monday morning. A lot of stores only have to return the front page of their Sunday newspaper to receive the credit, leaving the coupons to be later thrown away anyways. The whole point here is: Doesn’t hurt to ask, right?

 

“So, now what? Don’t I just clip, collect, and shop?”

Well, you’re probably wondering, “What’s so difficult with just using coupons? Why would I have to read an entire article about it to understand what to do? Go to the store, shop, and hand over the coupons, right?” Well, yes. That is essentially the whole point, but what you want to do is make it so you always get the best deal.

 

That way you don’t ever have to pay full price for an item.

Imagine this scenario: You need yogurt for your child’s weekly lunches. You have a coupon for buy one, get one free that you received from your local Sunday newspaper. You can either:

  • [Scenario 1:] go to to your favorite grocery store (Store A), you purchase 6 for the week, and continue your journey.
  • [Scenario 2:] go through your Sunday ads and find who has the best deal on yogurt at all the stores near you. Find that although Store A does have it on sale, you noticed Store B (where you normally don’t shop because its “too expensive” has it buy one get one free! Now, you can get free yogurt because the sale is for a Buy One Get One (B1G1) and you have a B1G1 coupon! Wait! You know how having a lot more coupons of one product is better: You asked your friends and family, you now can have free yogurt for your child’s lunches for the entire week.

Make a list of your stores.

This is important. You should make a list of all the stores you have near you that you could use coupons. What drug stores are near you? What about all the grocery stores? Do you have a few ‘chain stores’ like Kmart, Target, and Walmart?

Make the list, check it twice, and don’t leave any store left behind!!! Just because you think, “That store is overpriced! They never have any good deals!” is no reason to leave the store off your list. For all you know Store A might have been your all time favorite for “lowest prices” but Store B has the item on sale this week only for half the amount you find it elsewhere.

Have your list? Time to learn the rules.

I keep all coupon policies with me at all times

I keep all coupon policies with me at all times

Alright. You know how to get the coupons. You know that you would like to have multiples to really ensure savings. You know what stores you want to shop at. Now what? Learn the rules of those stores!!! This is by far the most important. Remember, people that don’t follow the rules, or do things dishonestly ruin it for everyone. I guess things used to be a lot different in the coupon world until people became dishonest and broke the rules. You’re going to have to learn every store’s coupon policy. Your best bet is to ask the customer service desk for their exact policy. You want to be sure you’re getting the best deal, honestly and legally. You could ask the following questions:

  • If the coupon is worth more than products will the price of the item be adjusted or will there be an overage?
  • Does your store “Double” or even “Triple” coupons*?
    1. What is the maximum value of coupon that you will allow?
    2. Do you have a limit on how many of one item you can buy per transaction?
    3. Are there any other rules that I need to know about double/triple coupons?
  • Do you accept internet printable (IP) coupons?
  • Do you accept in-store coupons and manufacture coupons at the same time?
  • Do you accept expired coupons?
  • Do you have a limit on how many coupons you can use per transaction?
  • Do you have a limit on how many one type of product you can buy at once?
  • Do you match competitors prices?

It is very important to follow the rules and policies and make sure you’re not trying to “cheat the system” by doing anything unlawful, dishonest, or disrespectful. If someone does something they’re not supposed to do, it will eventually ruin it for everyone.

* Double Coupons is when a store will double the face value of the coupon. These are also known as “Super Doubles”. If stores do have super doubles, they sometimes fall on specific days or will have random days they will advertise. Majority of the time they also have a limit in which they’ll double. For example, if they say “Will double coupons up to $.50” this means that all coupons .50 under, and including will be doubled. Also note: some stores might also have a limit as to how many coupons or even items you can buy during your transaction.

Get the ads for your favorite stores:

Now, you have the coupons, list of stores in which you’d like to buy from, their policies and rules, what next? Your store’s ads! You’re going to need to know what is on sale at all your favorite stores every week. You can get most of your weekly ads in your Sunday newspaper. Otherwise, another option is going online and viewing the ads there. (Note: Not all stores have their ads available online; A lot do. Best to check through a search engine to find out if you store has an online ad available.) Once you have the ads on hand, you’ll be able to match deals a lot easier!

Quick Tips to Remember:

  • Brand loyalty should go out the window – at least some. Buy what is on sale, not what is necessarily your favorite brand. Obviously not all brands go on sale, not all brands have coupons, but if you’re not too picky buy whatever is available.
  • You do not have to buy all items listed. If the sale states: X/$X (3/$5) you do not have to buy all three unless otherwise stated. You can buy just one, or two, or whatever. You do not have to buy all of them to receive the sale – unless otherwise stated. This happens often with 10/$10 sales. The only time this doesn’t apply is if it states specifically: Buy 8 to receive a free gallon of milk. Therefore you must buy all eight to receive the gallon of milk, for this instance.
    • Also please note: These buy # for $X amount are not necessarily always the best deals! The sale could state cereal is 2/$4 but you know that this brand of cereal is normally $1.89. Therefore, its a better deal when its not on sale! Stores do pull these tricks. You’ll learn with experience what is a good deal and what isn’t.

The way that I like to deal match is this:

  • Make a list of the stores that you plan on shopping.
  • Go through the ad and write down what you think will be a good deal. (Crest Tooth Paste – $2/5 = 2.50 ea at Store A // $2/4.50 = $2.25 at Store B)
  • Go through your coupons. Find if you have any coupons for that product. (Let’s say you find a coupon for 1/$1)
  • Match the coupons with the stores to find the best deal. (In this example, we find that Store B has the best deal.)

 

Storing Coupons

We’re skipping around a bit. You understand what to do with the coupons, how to use them, and how you need to know the policies for the stores you’re planning on shopping. You have learned how to deal match. Now, what do you do with this HUGE stack of coupons you have?

Storage and Organization is the absolute key to this working.

You can also use an accordian file or photo album to file.

You can also use an accordian file or photo album to file.

You need to find a system that works for you. Some people will leave the inserts and file them away in a binder using page protector sheets and sort them by date. Then when its time to go shopping they will just clip what they need. Others will sort through their coupons by date, clip them when they receive them and then file them away. Couponing experts will clipthem, sort them, and file them. They will use the “binder system” which is where they’ll buy inserts for baseball cards or pictures and file and sort them in those. Others might use photo albums for this. Make sure to go through your coupons (at least) once a month to get rid of any expired coupons, unless your store accepts them!

Couponing Binder

My Couponing Binder

If you’d like to know more information regarding how you can organize your coupons, here are some amazing threads to read:

You must use what works for you. Its all trial and error in the beginning. I went from envelopes to accordion files, to a binder, to the photo albums, back to a binder. You just have to keep trying until you find something you’re comfortable with. Just remember to be organized and not to care what other people think.

My Coupon Binder

Once I got serious about doing couponing I realized I needed something sturdy that can hold a whole lot – I use a binder.

If you want to read more check out my Coupon Binder How-To.

Final tips and tricks

Ask for rainchecks – If you go to the store and they do not have the product available. Ask for a raincheck. Not only do some stores not expire your rainchecks but it gives you a lot more freedom! For instance, say you went to the store and they were out of the toilet paper you were going to buy. You get a raincheck and three weeks later, you receive an even better coupon that you had before, since you have a raincheck for the previous price that was on sale three weeks ago, you can buy the best price yet. (Not ALL stores carry rainchecks. YMMV – Your Mileage Might Vary)

Check for unadvertised sales – A lot of stores have monthly sales that they don’t advertise in their weekly ads. (Walgreen’s calls these mega savers) The only way you can find these is going through the store and finding the tags. You never know what kind of deals you can find until you look at ever little tag that’s hanging in the aisle.

Look for in-store coupon programs – Once again, like Walgreen’s a lot of stores offer in-store coupons every week/month. The best part of about this is depending on your stores policy – most will accept both the in-store coupon and the manufacture coupon!

Watch the cashier – A lot of cashiers are too lazy or too bored to notice/care about what they’re doing. Sometimes they’ll not scan the coupon at all. If you went to the store knowing that you had 5 coupons, but you notice on the receipt there is only four coupons listed. Say something!

Read couponing message boardshttp://www.afullcup.com and http://www.hotcouponworld.com are great ones to start off. They’re great because a lot of the people on the boards will find you the deals without you having to do much aside from checking to see if you have those coupons and then go shopping. They also find a lot of hidden deals you wouldn’t have known about unless it were for them!

Have fun with it! – I will admit, sometimes, couponing feels like a chore. I don’t like doing it most of the time. As soon as I gather my coupons, organize them, clip them, sort them, and file them, then I go shopping and see the haul I make and the deals I got, it makes it all worth it in the end. Its the initial work that seems like a drag. It takes a little time to build up your coupon collection until you have a good slew of them to use for shopping.