Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Coupon101: How To Build Your Coupon Stash

We just covered  Lesson 1: Anatomy of a Coupon. So now that you know what a coupon is, and how to understand the information found on coupons, it's time to start getting a coupon stash of your own! This post is a bit more lengthy, but just goes to show there are a ton of ways to get coupons!

So, Where can you find coupons?
Coupons are everywhere, In fact, in 2009 there were 528 Billion dollars worth of coupons that were released and only $3.5 billion were redeemed! That's a lot of coupons! There are so many easy sources to obtain coupons that I am certain you can have a huge collection started very soon!   Most options allow you to get coupons absolutely free. Some however, cost a small fee. Once you start couponing though, you will make your money back a few times over!

The Coupon Hunt

Location #1 - Sunday Papers. Finding coupons in your Sunday Paper is one of the fastest ways to build up your coupons. It seems like Sunday comes by so quickly and I am having to file brand new coupons once again! In your Sunday Paper you will notice inserts, such as Red Plum, Smartsource and PG. These inserts are filled with manufacturer coupons for various brands and products. These inserts will be mixed in with all the other store sales papers.

One important thing to note about the inserts in the Sunday Paper is not every city gets the same coupons.
Manufacturers have a set budget for coupons and they try to  issue more coupons in the bigger cities with higher populations. Those big cities may see higher dollar amounts off of products as well. For example, a small city may get a coupon for $0.50 off of Suave Shampoo, where a big city may get a $0.75 off for the same product. The amount of coupons will differ as well. A small city may see 10 coupons in their paper, and the big city right next store may get 50! With that said, you want to make sure if you are buying the Paper on Sundays for the coupons, then pick the paper from the largest city available to you.

My city's newspaper does not have a lot of coupons, so I buy the paper from the next city over, the Chattanooga Times. This paper is still sold in my town, so I do not have to travel to purchase it. But there are still better cities that I can buy from to get a huge amount of coupons, like The Atlanta Journal. I just would have to travel about 40 miles there and back each week to get it. I don't choose that route.

When buying the Sunday Paper, you may wonder how many you should buy. Many couponers go by a rule of thumb to buy as many papers as you have people living in your home. I tend to buy 4 every Sunday. If it is a huge coupon week with lots of inserts or important coupons that I know I am going to need or use, I will buy as many as 8! You can always take a look at the upcoming coupon inserts a few days early HERE.
Knowing ahead of time can be very helpful in your decision on how many papers to buy, or when matching to a sales ad or planning a menu for the week.

Location #2 - Grocery Stores. You can walk into almost any store and find a coupon some where! The first place I check when I enter a store is the area around where they have their sales ads displayed. Sometimes there are coupon books or flyer pages with coupons on them. Sometimes there may be some store coupons available. My next stop is the customer service desk. Ask them if they have any coupons available. This works especially well at Publix! They are always having coupon booklets and flyers filled with great coupons!

While you are shopping, if you have time try to make a quick trip down each aisle. You will notice little machines stuck to the shelves that have a blinking light. These are known as "Blinkies" and usually have a coupon to dispense for a product located on that shelf. Most of the time when you see these blinkies, that item will be going on sale within the next couple weeks so its usually a better idea to hold onto them instead of using them when the item is only regular price. How many Blinkies should you take? The coupon etiquette varies from person to person, however I believe that taking 2 is sufficient. If you happen to go to another store and they have the same blinkie, I think its ok to take 2 from that one as well. Its all part of being considerate so that others can have a chance to snag a coupon and great deal too!

While you are browsing the aisles you may notice products with coupons stuck to them also known as "Peelies" Many couponers, and myself feel these are not ok to take unless you are buying that product at that time. Those coupons are placed on the product for the consumers who are buying that item. I don't believe there is really a law on that. Again it is just a matter of being considerate and using good coupon etiquette.

Another type of coupon you are sure to find in a grocery store is a "Tearpad"  Think of it like a post-it note pad full of coupons. These pads of coupons will generally be glued to a cardboard display of a product or on the shelf. The same etiquette applies to tearpads as blinkies. Take two.

You may also notice coupons laying beside matching products. These are often left by "coupon fairies", nice people who help others by sharing coupons they won't be using by laying them next to the product its intended for. If this is a coupon for a product you are definitely going to use, then consider it a gift. On a side note, make sure to look at the expiration date as sometimes, people leave expired coupons next to the item. I guess that is their way of disposing of them? But if you plan to send off your expired coupons to military families overseas, then you should collect the expired ones you see as well.

Some grocery stores have clubs and programs you can become a member of online. Others like Kroger and Publix, offer magazines that are mailed to you during different times of the year filled with store and manufacturer coupons! Many grocery stores have a loyalty card program where you get the sales when your unique card is scanned. Sometimes coupons are printed at the register when you use these cards.

Location #3 The Internet. There are various websites that offer great coupons that you can print at home.
Sites such as, Coupons.com, Smartsource.com and Red Plum.com are among the most popular. These sites will have a list of coupons you can print. Most coupons are allowed to be printed 2 of the same per computer. The coupons on these sites are constantly changing and tend to even reset them at times so you can print more!

Facebook can be your best friend when you are looking for coupons and deals online. A company or brand always has a coupon or freebie to be had somewhere! Some of them are simply amazing. If you do not have a Facebook account, I would suggest getting one just to keep up with your favorite brands!  While your there Friend me!

Another way to find coupons online is to go straight to the companies website. Alot of sites will have a tab or link on their page stating Promotions, Freebies or coupons. Think of some of your favorite brands and then take a look at their website for printable coupon offers! If a site does not have any coupons to offer, consider sending them an email. Let them know what you think of their product or request a sample or coupon. Many times they will happily send you something for your time and feedback! Be sure to leave your address in the email!

Make sure to sign up for company newsletters or join a companies online clubs. They are known to send their members emails with upcoming deals and coupons that only members can print! Also  make sute to sign up for free samples when you see them. They often come with coupons!

Coupons can even be purchased online! There are coupon clipping sites that have massive amounts of individual clipped coupons and even whole inserts often for just pennies! Places like Coupons and Things by DeDe is a great place to go if there is a coupon that you missed in a Sunday Paper! You can even bid at ebay for coupons!

Location #4 - Magazines. Coupons can be found in many magazines. Especially those on the subject of women, or home. All You is the best magazine for coupons! They put out an issue each month with some really great high dollar coupons in them. You can purchase All You at Walmart for about $2.50 an issue or get a subscription All You (6-month) to try for only $10! I always make sure to get two copies each month! I have gotten many of my free items shopping using the coupons from All You magazine combined with a sale!

Location #5  - Your Pantry. Lastly, coupons can be found in  your own home! Make sure to look inside boxes before you throw them away. Often there will be surprise coupons printed on the inside of a box. Maybe even a little folded coupon inside a product.

As you can see coupons are everywhere! Once you start collecting them all, your gonna need a place to put them and a way to organize them to maximize your savings. That is what we will talk about with the next lesson....

1 comment:

Amy said...

Hi Maranda! I love your blog! So much so that I’d like to give you The Versatile Blogger Award! Check it out here: http://thethriftythumb.blogspot.com/2010/06/my-first-award.html

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