Sunday, January 24, 2010


Many Couponers have their own way of how shopping and saving work for them. We call it Coupon101.  Many people ask how it is that I can save 70% off of everyday items and most of them name brand. It takes some work but if you are a beginner then I can show you a few tips and tricks and ways to get started easily.

Lesson 1: Starting from scratch

When you are just starting your coupon adventure things can be overwhelming and unorganized. The best thing to do is get organized and stay organized. I suggest getting a Zip up Binder with  2inch or 3 inch rings. I bought mine at Target for $9.99. Next you will need to get some baseball card pages. They can be found on the hobby/baseball card aisle at Walmart for about $6.00 for 35 pages. Next pick up some tabbed subject dividers. You will probably need at least 10 tabbed dividers, maybe more depending on how many categories you want to break your coupons into.
Mine is Broken down like this :
1/Cold Foods
2/Pantry Foods
-Dinners (rice, pasta, canned foods breads etc.)

-Snacks (chips, candy, popcorn nuts etc.)

-Breakfast (cereals, pop tarts, granola bars etc.)



5/Household Goods
-Paper Products (plates, napkins, tissue paper, etc)
-Cleaning (Laundry, Disinfectant, Air fresheners, Dish soap etc.)
6/Health and Beauty
-Mouth (toothpaste, mouthwash, dental floss etc.)
-Hair (shampoo, hair spray, dyes, etc.)
-Body (lotions, soaps, body wash etc.)
-Face ( make-up, moisturizers etc)
-Medicines ( ointments, pain relievers, stomach meds etc)

(treats, food, litter, medicines etc.)

(Toys, Batteries, Movies, etc.)

 I feel like I am missing some. I do not have my Binder with me at the moment, but this is at my best memory.
You can set your own binder up with however you are comfortable with. Mine just gives you an idea of how to get started.

Once you have your binder ready, you can begin gathering all your coupons you have been clipping and saving. If you don't have many coupons or have no Idea where to look for them, don't worry. In just a couple weeks I am sure you can get an overflow of coupons! Here is where to look!

1. Sunday Paper Inserts- This will be a great place to get coupons. I buy my Sunday paper from my local Dollar Tree and it saves me $0.50 each paper! I have read the standard rule to how many papers you should buy is 1 per household member. I always buy at least 4 papers on average weeks, but if I know it is going to be a great coupon insert I will buy 6-8 copies! You should be aware that coupon inserts vary by location. Smaller cities may only get a very few coupons in their paper. And bigger cities can get them all at times! So stop and think a minute and ask your self, What is the biggest city close to you. Once you decide start looking for locations that make that paper available to buy. Try Book stores, Newstands or you can call the Paper business itself to see where the closest vendor or machine is. But keep in mind that I have heard many times that when people order subscriptions, the coupon inserts aren't always in there.

2. Blinkie Machines- While you are in your local grocery store you may notice there are many machines on the aisle with blinking lights and a coupon sticking out. It's ok to take those coupons even if you aren't buying the product today. I do not recommend taking more than 2 of any same coupon. I feel that it is unfair to others who  may like to have that coupon if there are such limited quantities. Another great thing about seeing the blinkies is that usually it means the item will be going on sale in the next couple of weeks but when it does those blinkies will be removed.

3. All You Magazine- This magazine is GREAT! I have a subscription and its one thing that I look forward to in the mail each month. It is filled with very nice coupons and also has frugal meal ideas, and tips and tricks for cleaning and weight loss. It is a really great read and the coupons are an awesome bonus! There is a link to the right where you can subscribe to All You magazine through Amazon and save some money. You can also find this magazine at your local Walmart store for $2.49 an issue. Either way it has been very informative to have.

4. Printable Coupons- There are various websites that have a variety of coupons that you can print at home.
Most of these coupons can be printed twice per computer. Some Great sites are
Red Plum.Com 
Some Stores such as Target and Food Lion offer Printable coupons as well
Also take a look in your cabinets or think of your favorite brand products. Then look up the manufacturer of that brand and see if their website offers any printable coupons or a newsletter to sign up for. Often times those newsletters will contain coupons or special promotions. If no information of that nature is listed you can contact them through email to give them a suggestion or comment on their products. Be sure to include correspondence such as your name and address because often times they will send you coupons for your feedback.

5. If there is a coupon floating around out there that you are unable to get, you can always order them online at such places like:

The Coupon Clippers
The Coupon Clippers


Coupons by DeDe

You can also Check at CouponTom or A Full Cup  to see if there are even any coupons out right now for a select product.

Once you have a nice little stock pile of coupons, you want to have them clipped and filed in their respective categories and slots in the binder. This will make it so easy when you go shopping.
Example: You go to your local store and you see your favorite brand of shampoo marked down.You are thinking, "didn't I have a coupon for that shampoo?" Open your binder to health and beauty/Hair and if you have it, it will be right there! Never miss a deal when you are organized!

Now that Lesson 1 is over you should have a nice little binder with lots of coupons and you should be set to start on your mission of shopping!

Lesson 2 -Head out on your mission

It is always best to have a plan when you go shopping. That way it is harder to overspend. You can use my site to check on certain stores weekly deals before heading out. I will tell you what is in there ad on sale, AND I will tell you if there is a coupon to make that sale even better! When you have a store in mind, select it from the top of my website menu and you should see the latest ad available. Browse through the deals and check to see if you have any of the coupons I  mention. A lot of times the coupons will be printable and I will supply the link for you right beside it. All you have to do is click, print and cut!

There are also coupons that can be loaded on certain store cards such as Kroger. The coupons can be deducted once the item is purchased and your card is scanned.
Such services are:

Once you  have made your list of what you are planning on buying and have matched any coupons up you can head out to the store and save save save!

Lesson 3- Going in Blind

If you make a trip out to a store with no prepared list you can still learn what to look for to get the best deals. Most of the time you want to look for items on sale Buy One Get One. The reason why is because in most stores those items ring up 50% off which means better deals. For Example:
 Store A has Gain Laundry Detergent for $5.99 Reg Price
 Store B has Gain on sale Buy one Get One, or $2.99ea
You decide to buy 2 Gains from Store B for a total of $5.99
You use two $2.00/1 coupons for Gain bringing your total down to $1.99 for 2 Gains!
If you shopped at store B today you would have paid $11.98 for 2 Gains! You just saved 84% off  name brand products all because you knew when and where to shop and how to use your coupons!

You want to make sure that you know each stores coupon policies. I have started a list of them HERE
Also print them out and keep them in your binder so that you know the policies and you can make sure that the cashiers are aware in case of problems as well!

Lesson 4 Knowing how much to buy!

I understand that free items are awesome. During your shopping journeys you will come across free items, items that are going cost mere pocket change and sometimes even items that will give you overage. Keep in mind though that stores will run their sales in loops. You will usually see a repeat of the same sales every 6 weeks or so. It is ok and recommended that you stock up for 6 weeks worth, but not anymore than that because it can become wasteful if not used in a timely manner and also it limits the items available for other shoppers who are in need of the items. We are very lucky to have the opportunity to use coupons and I really dislike seeing it abused. Stick with the stores policies and keep a good moral ground when you coupon.

The best way to know when the best time to buy a product at it's lowest is to keep a Product Journal.
You can take a look and make a list of things that you need to buy each month. Price it at different stores, and as it goes on sale, right down the date and price. One week it may be reg $2.99 couple weeks later it may be 2/$5.00  it may even go 2/$4.00. But at it's lowest most of the time is half off, so when you see the Buy one Get one sale or 50% off sale, its time to buy that Item. If you have a coupon for it as well, Even better!

It can be a lot to take in at first. With each week that you tackle these shopping trips you will get better and better. You will feel  more comfortable in how it works, and it will come together a lot quicker.

Lesson 5 Maintenance

Even when you get the hang of things, It is still important to remain organized. Go through your binder 2 times a month and take out your expired coupons. When your coupons have expired, don't throw them out. They can be sent to U.S. Military families stationed overseas to be used up to 6 months after they expire! You can read more info on doing that HERE

I believe that is enough lessons for today. I will ad more to coupon101 as I think of it!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts with Thumbnails