Couponing has become almost an art and a way of life for many. It enables us to experience many things that we could not have done previously. For instance, since I started couponing, I have donated hundreds of dollars worth of name-brand products to churches and individuals in need. My family has tried a variety of new foods, and I always have food on hand. I have a stockpile of food and toiletries that will last me several months, if need be.
On this page, I will attempt to teach you the easiest and most profitable way to get started and be successful. I will try and cover a different aspect of couponing each day.
The average couponer saves about 65%-70% on their groceries weekly and much more on their toiletries and household items. Do not be discouraged if you are not saving that much right away. It does take a little time. Here are some important things to remember.
1. Be diligent…make couponing a way of life. Get your coupons every week. Ask friends and family to give you theirs if they are not planning to use them. Never throw one out just because you don’t think you’ll use it. You never know what may go on sale. Register on manufacturers’ websites. Sign up for samples and subscribe to their newsletters. A lot of manufacturers send coupons by email or snail mail. Print from internet. There are 3 major coupon sites. They are coupons.com, smartsource.com, and redplum.com. Most of them update at the beginning of every month, though red plum is likely to post throughout the month. You can usually find more coupons on these sites by experimenting with different zip codes. You are usually allowed to print 2 copies of each coupon per computer. Never photocopy coupons. This is coupon fraud and is illegal.
2. Be flexible…be willing to try new things and new brands. You are going to find that in many cases you can buy name brands much cheaper than store brand by using coupons.
3. Set aside time for couponing. Even if it is just 30 minutes a day, it is important for you take the time to plan.
4. Match coupons with sales. There are a lot of websites that do this for you. My personal favorite is southernsavers.com.
5. Shop stores that double coupons.
6. Stockpile: Always buy as many of the item as you have coupons, without cleaning out the shelf, as long as it won’t go bad before you can use it. Most stores run on a 6 to 8 week cycle for sales.
7. If an item is free after sale price and coupon, buy it. If you don’t use it, you can donate it.
8. Take full advantage when “staples” go on sale and/or have coupons as this does not happen often. Flour, sugar, corn starch, mayo, ketchup, etc.
9. There are seldom coupons for “real” meat. So only buy it when it is on sale. Buy enough to last about 4-6 weeks and freeze. For chops, chicken breasts, steaks, wrap individually with plastic wrap and then put into large freezer bag. This way, you only have to thaw what you need and it is easier to accommodate unexpected dinner guests. Buy beef roasts that are on sale and cut them yourself for stew meat, as stew meat is seldom on sale.
10. Do not think that you have to be loyal to a particular store. They need to “offer” you something to earn your business: good prices, good coupon policy, great sale prices.
11. Take your higher value coupons to the store that has the lower everyday price, if it is something that you need right away. If you can hold on to it until that item goes on sale at grocery or drug store, you could get an even better deal.
12. If possible, always take your coupons with you, even if you have a list and have the coupons you are going to use sorted. You never know when you may run into an unadvertised special. Always check clearance racks.
13) Practice coupon etiquette. Remember that you are not the only person who wants that deal. Do not make a practice of being the first one to get to the store so that you can clean the shelves. You only need enough to last until the next sale, which, on most things is about 6 weeks. If the store is out, ask for a raincheck.
14) Always remember that in many cases, a big portion of our savings actually comes from the special sales pricings at the stores. The trick is to match the sales with the available coupons. On my side bar you will see my savings for 2010. You will also notice that the sales savings was almost equal to the coupon savings. This is especially true for grocery shopping. We will get into drugstore-shopping in a few days, where the opposite is sometimes true. My totals include ALL of my shopping and even restaurant coupons. In the grocery stores in 2010 I saved a total of $4366.00, with $2033.00 of that being with coupons.
If you have any questions, feel free to contact me by clicking the "contact me" button on my sidebar.
Collecting and Organizing Coupons.
COLLECTING AND ORGANIZING COUPONS
COLLECTING AND ORGANIZING COUPONS
There are many different places to get coupons and several different ways to organize them. First, we will discuss where to get them.
The biggest source for a variety of coupons is your Sunday newspaper. Almost every week, there is a least one coupon insert in the paper, with most weeks having two or more. It is my recommendation that you keep all coupons. Even if they are for items that you have never bought before, and you think that you probably never will. You never know when the right deal may come along. You should always buy the largest paper that is distributed in your area. The best one that I have found is the Charlotte Observer. It is sold, of course, in and around Charlotte, NC, and in several Publixes and newstands around the Upstate of SC. Most couponers buy at least 2 newspapers every week. Walgreens and Ingles sometimes sell newspapers at a discounted price.
Another great source for coupons is the internet. Many companies have websites and quite frequently offer valuable coupons for their products. There are also several websites that are dedicated solely to printable coupons. They are coupons.com, smartsource.com, and redplum.com. These websites update their coupons regularly and offer different coupons for different areas. Feel free to experiment with different zip codes when looking for coupons.
There are several magazines that offer coupons regularly, and if you look for a deal, you can usually get a subscription pretty cheap. The best magazine for coupons is "All You" , which normally has $55-$100 worth of coupons each month. The only place to buy it is at Wal Mart, or by subscription. The best subscription price that I have found is HERE. This site is linked to Southern Savers, and not only do you get the magazine for about 83¢ per issue, a contribution is also made to a local food bank. Please remember, though, that the subscription version does not always have as many coupons as the Wal Mart version. Some of the other magazines that have coupons quite regularly, are Woman's Day, Family Circle, Weight Watchers, and Good Housekeeping. There is also a free publication called Rogue, which you can sign up for HERE. It is issued quarterly.
Other places to find coupons are tearpads or booklets near products in stores, in-store coupon dispensers, peelie coupons attached to products you are buying, coupons located on or inside packaging, home-mailers, and the list goes on. Never pass up the opportunity to add a coupon to your collection. If you see a tearpad or a dispenser, feel free to take one or two. However, it is not all right to remove coupons from products that you are not buying at that time, or to take a whole tearpad or dispenser-full. Please consider others when you are collecting your coupons.
Now we come to organizing our coupons. Organization is very important in order to get the beat use from the coupons that you have collected. Most couponers start out using envelopes or a small accordion file and soon convert to a 3-ring binder and/or a file box. The file box is normally used to store full inserts, arranged by date, and the binder is used to store clipped coupons, printables, those that we get from tearpads, etc. You can buy inserts and dividers for the binders from your local discount or office supply store. If you have a hard time finding them in your discount stores, check where the baseball cards are displayed. You can then set your binder up to match your particular preferences. Some people organize alphabetically by name brand, while others use product categories. I initially used the category method, but later decided that alphabetically worked better for me. However, my binder is divided into 3 sections: food, household, & health & beauty. I like to keep it up-to-date as much as possible, so that I can take it with me when I go shopping. This way, I can take advantage of unexpected deals. I also use a file box with folders. Each insert is dated and kept in the corresponding folder until I clip it. The date of the insert is found on the spine.
Building Your Stockpile
THE BASICS OF COUPONING
BUILDING YOUR GROCERY STOCKPILE
THE BASICS OF COUPONING
BUILDING YOUR GROCERY STOCKPILE
One of the key factors to being a successful couponer is to build a sufficient stockpile. This is done over time, and can take a few months. But once you have your stockpile built, you will seldom have to buy anything because you need it. You will already have what you need, except, of course, your perishables like milk, bread, fruit, and produce. However, the money that you save on other things will leave more money in your budget for those things.
I recommend one or two normal shopping trips, buying what you need, and at the same time, buying the sale items that you will need in the future, using as many coupons as possible. Most items go on sale every 6-8 weeks, but if you follow the sales at more than one store, you may see that each store has it on sale, but at different times. For instance, if you know that you cook spaghetti once a week, and the store has it on a BOGO sale, buy enough to last about 6 weeks. There are almost always printable coupons for pasta, which often makes it free. If it goes on sale again before you run out, and you have/can get more coupons, then replenish your stockpile. Do not wait until you run out, as it may not be on sale then.
Any non-perishable item can be stockpiled, though some may need to be rotated to keep the dates current. A good price is not a good price if you end up throwing it out because it went out of date. But most items have a pretty lengthy shelf-life. I find that salad dressing is probably the main thing that I have to keep a close watch on. Canned veggies seem to last forever, as do jellies and that kind of thing. I stockpile all sauces, condiments, pasta sauces, canned soups, side dishes, canned meats and veggies, and box dinner mixes. In my freezer, I have frozen dinners, veggies, meatballs, frozen breads, ice cream, breakfast items, and the list goes on.
I NEVER pay full price for any meat. Ground beef is on sale somewhere almost every week, as are chicken breasts. I prefer buying boneless meat, so when there is a good price, I buy enough for about a month, divide it into meal-sized packages and freeze it. Boneless chicken breasts and steaks are wrapped serarately, and then put into larger bags. This way, I only have to defrost what I need for whatever I am cooking. I buy roasts that are on sale and cut them my self for stew meat. I buy a whole pork loin when they are on sale and have the butcher at the store slice it into chops. I usually get about 18 boneless chops from one pork loin, and can usually buy them for less than $2 a pound. I have never seen them pre-sliced for this price, and the store does not charge you to slice it.
I take advantage of all "sale with coupons" on staples such as sugar, flour, cornbread mix, and canned milk. Once you learn how often each of your necessities goes on sale, you will be better able to determine how much you need to buy. For instance, I use a lot of canned, evaporated milk. It sells for 98¢-1.25, depending on the brand that you buy. Publix recently had it BOGO at 1.23 each, making them 62¢, which is a good price. However, I also had coupons, which brought the price down to 12¢ each, over 90% off of the original price. I bought as many as I had coupons, because I know that it does not go on sale that cheap very often.
It is always good to have a designated area in your home for your stockpile, and to keep it organized. When I first started couponing, I was "forced" to clean out and rearrange my kitchen cabinets, just to have space for the food. You may even have to make a small investment for shelves or boxes, but it will be well worth it. Your stockpile will grow a little with each shopping trip. You should never do without something that you need just because it's not on sale or you don't have a coupon. However, once your stockpile starts growing, you will soon have almost anything you need at any given time. When you start getting low on something, you will start looking for a good price.
BUILDING YOUR STOCPILE
HEALTH & BEAUTY AND HOUSEHOLD ITEMS