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Friday, February 7, 2014

Couponing Tips!

Hello everyone!

As everyone knows I'm all about coupons. People ask me all the time, "How do you coupon? How can I save the money that you save?" So, after being asked so many times, I decided to create a tips sheet and explain exactly how I do it. There are many people out there, who will teach the simple basics, and then they will charge for their "class." To me, that is unethical! If you have a gift that you can share with others to help them save money, then by all means, help them for FREE! After all, at one point, someone helped you!

I hope this will help you. If you have any other tips that could help someone, please post them in the comments section!

Have a great day!

First of all....you need to figure out what stores you will typically shop at, to include retail, grocery, pharmacies, etc. One very important thing that you have to understand very well BEFORE couponing is EACH store's coupon policy. Each store has a different policy. Some store chains even have different policies for each store. For example, some Winn-Dixie's in Florida will do double and triple coupons, but most stores in AL and GA do not do either of those. They will only do face value. So, take this time to write down the stores you will be shopping at on a regular basis. Visit each store's site or do a Google search for "(store name)'s coupon policy", then print the WHOLE POLICY for each store.
Next, get a 3 ring binder and put ALL OF THOSE COUPON POLICIES in the binder, and use dividers to separate each store from the other. Use the divided sections to put your store ads that you print or pick up, your grocery lists, and you can also buy vinyl sleeves and stick your coupons for those specific stores in there.
Once you have your system together, then you can move on to the next steps. Finding your coupons! If you don't have a newspaper with coupons, there are many other options to get them from. First, you can print them off the internet. You can visit the company's website and print coupons; you can do a Google search of a coupon for that item or brand; you can join their Facebook pages and look for coupons; you can join coupon exchange groups in the community (libraries and military bases usually have these); you can join groups online (try Yahoo Groups and Facebook). You can also use a coupon clipping service. These are wonderful! If you are like me, you don't want a ton of coupons for items that you won't use. I'd rather just pay a little bit and get coupons that I WILL use! Coupon clipping services are super cheap. I typically use www.thecouponclippers.com. They are trust-worthy and reliable. The way this works is you pick the coupons you want, how many of each you want, and then you pay pennies on the dollar for each coupon and then a very small handling fee, which is usually no more than the cost of a stamp.
Get together store ads. You can get these from the store or print them from the internet. TAKE THESE WITH YOU! Figure out what items you wand then compare them to the items that Walmart and Target carry, if you shop at these stores. BOTH of these stores will MATCH competitor ads, as long as they are the same item listed, the ad is current, and it's a local competitor. You must bring the ad, so keep it in your binder! Find the items you want, make a list, take it to Walmart, get the items, show your ad, save money!
On top of competitor matching, you can also use coupons! Walmart, Target, Publix and Winn-Dixie will allow ONE store coupon PLUS ONE manufacturer coupon to be used for the same item, so that is double the savings. Now, if you just ad-matched an item, plus you had 1 or 2 coupons for that item, then you just saved even more!
Not coupon stacking!!! Coupon stacking is when you use more than one coupon for one single or a couple of items as a group, and you maximize your savings. You have to be very careful with this. Coupon stacking is very legal to do, but you have to be careful to make sure it works for you. First thing you want to do is take all your coupons that are for free items and put them at the back of the stack; take all your dollar or cent off coupons for single items and put them in the front; put all your dollar or cent off coupons for more than one item as a whole (like $1 off 2, etc) and put them in the middle of the stack between the single coupons and the free coupons.  Now you want to run all single item coupons first. DO NOT RUN ANY COUPONS FOR 2 ITEMS OR MORE UNTIL THE END. If you have a coupon that says, "$1 off 3" and then you have 3 separate coupons that say "40 cents off one", and they are for the same 3 items in the first coupon, then you can use a total of 4 coupons for that set of items (the $1 off 3 and the individual coupons for cents off one), but make sure you use the single coupons first. If you run a multiple item coupon (like the $1 off 3) first, then you will combine those items as a combined unit and the registers will not allow cents off single items because they are no longer 3 separate units, they are a combined one unit.
You can also get money off your FREE items, so run the coupons for the cents/dollars off your free items, but DON'T run the free coupons until the end!
Also, sign up for rewards cards! All pharmacy store retail chains like Walgreens, Rite Aid, CVS, lots of restaurants, some stores have rewards cards. They are totally worth the few minutes you use to sign up for them. You get free items and discounts every time you use it. CVS and Wal-greens prints out special coupons just for the card holders, so it's definitely worth it.
You can use coupons WITH the rewards you rack up on rewards cards!!!
Also, sign up for emails from all the stores with rewards cards. They will sometimes send out special deals that are only available through email.
Maximize your savings by comparing namebrand products to off-brand products. Sometimes using a coupon won't give you the better deal. Sometimes buying off-brand or items that are like it that are on sale will be the best deal.

Also, MEAL PLAN!!! Can't say this enough! Make a grocery list and stick with it. Plan meals for the week. Studies show if you plan meals, you are less likely to eat out, which saves money. Also, make homemade food when possible. Stick to your grocery list. Eat a full meal before grocery shopping. You are less likely to stray from your shopping list if you shop on a full stomach.
It sounds like a lot of work, but it's really not. The savings make it worth your time. My average grocery shopping savings are anywhere from $50-$100 per trip. What you see on TV is FAKE. Those stores are set up for that show, and your actual stores do NOT allow coupon usage like they do on the show, so keep that in mind. You aren't going to get several baskets of food or products for free or pay only 80 cents for a whole basket of groceries. In fact, since that show came out on TLC, all the major grocery stores and retail chains have now changed their coupon policies to prevent abuse from happening. Be realistic. The average beginning couponer will typically save $5-$50 per shopping trip. The more you learn, the more practice you get, and the more time you put into your shopping trips, the more money you will save.
I highly suggest using the website www.thecouponmom.com. She's amazing! She has an awesome book for beginners that you can get on half.com and Amazon for just a few books. It's called "The Coupon Mom." You can also find her on Facebook. She's world-known! :)
If you have anymore questions, just shoot me an email.
Some examples of shopping trips I've saved on: (we lived in Wisconsin at the time)- Walmart: $300 worth of groceries for $90 (used ad matching, shopping list, and coupons); Target: $300 worth of Leap Frog learning toys for $30 (used ad matching, store coupons, plus manufacturer coupons).