Clipping & using coupons is not a waste of time. Using coupons, shoppers have become better stewards of the resources God has given them as well as leaning to live on grocery budgets of $60.00 a week or month! Savings may be small in the beginning but with time and knowledge, coupon shoppers are saving more!
The first step to successful coupon use is accumulating coupons. Each week there are usually 2 different sets of coupon inserts in the Sunday newspapers and a 3rd insert once a month. Having multiples of each coupon enables a shopper to take advantage of great deals in bulk and to build a stockpile.
Family, friends, co-workers and church members can be another way to obtain coupon inserts. You can also purchase coupons (you are paying for the time and postage, not the coupon) from eBay, coupondede.com or collectablecoupons.com. Read each coupon carefully as most state “one coupon per purchase.” Each item bought is a purchase. If 5 of an item is purchased, 5 coupons for that item may be used.
Another source is the internet. Printable coupons and coupon offers can be found at many manufacturer and coupon related websites. Manufactures also offer coupons via mail and their website or Face Book page. Additional coupons and in-store savings can be found at most grocery stores. Coupons commonly called blinkies are available in red machines set up in aisles in the stores. Also apply for grocery store courtesy cards like Kroger. Most grocery chains offer extra discounts and savings when the card is used. These discounts can often be combined with coupons for maximum savings!
Organization is key. There are a variety of ways to organize & maintain coupons. Successful coupon users have a place to keep & organize the coupons. This can be done with a binder, a box, or flexible file. Whatever is used, the coupons are divided and placed in in categories which provide for easy location while shopping.
There are many methods to saving and cutting the coupons and inserts. Some will cut all the coupons and file them in their organizer. This way all coupons are available when shopping. That way, you will be ready when a surprise deal is found! Others will only cut what they need and leave the rest in the insert, that way when a sale or deal on a specific item occurs, they can go back to that insert and cut the needed coupon.
When a great deal is found, purchase in bulk! This is why accumulating multiple coupons is necessary. Buying a lot of one thing at a great price can lead to never having to pay full price again. For example, buying 3-6 months of cereal at a great price means cereal will not need to be purchased again until the stockpile is dwindling and a new deal is found. This can be done with many food items and most household items. Coupon savings will quickly pay for any storage supplies such as shelving or plastic containers.
SUCCESSFUL COUPON USE:
Using coupons wisely is another key to successful coupon use. There are many ways to do this and maximize the savings. Avoid using a coupon just because you have it. If there is a coupon for an item that is not on sale, do not use it. Unused coupons can be traded or expired coupons can be sent overseas to military bases and are valid six months after the expiration date.
Watch the sales at different grocery stores. Pair the sales with the coupons to get great savings. Many times items are just a small fraction of their original price when this is done. Compare ads and coupons for the grocery sales each week at Faithfulprovisions.com, $5dollardinners.com, coupondivas.com or thekrazycouponlady.com to get great information on deals that week.
Know the coupon policies at local stores. Some stores don’t double or triple the value of coupons. Some stores will combine a manufacturer's coupon with a store coupon. If a store has a coupon in their ad or in store and there is a manufacturer’s coupon for the same item, both can be used and this is called stacking. Two manufacturer’s coupons can’t be combined. There are some stores that accept competitor's coupons.
When an item is Buy One Get One Free, often two coupons can be used.
Plan your meals around your stockpile.
If the coupon says “off any size,” it’s more profitable to use it on the smallest size.
If the store is out of an advertised sale item, get a rain check.
Keep a list of needed items.
Avoid trips to convenience stores.
Don’t shop hungry.
Remember one store never has the lowest price on everything so shop around
Watch for price discrepancies at the checkout. Make sure all coupons are deducted
Try different brands. Don’t be brand loyal.
Generic brands are not always cheaper when you maximize savings.
Donate to charity.
Don’t copy coupons or use expired coupons-This is fraud!
Knowing the pricing policies of local stores are important. Some stores have low price guarantees or match other store’s advertised sale prices. Even shopping locally can be a money saving experience.
COUPON LINGO & DEFINITIONS:
OOP—Out of pocket, the amount you spend once all sales,
promotions, and coupons have been deducted from your total
Overage—You made money. If you buy a can of green beans that is on sale for .85 cents and you have a $1 off coupon, you’ve made 15 cents of overage. Some stores do not allow this like Kroger, Walgreens and Rite Aid.
Catalina—this is a coupon that prints out with your receipt. It is named after the company that makes the machine. Catalina’s are often money makers. Example: on the store shelf you see a tag that says, “Buy 2 Miracle Whip between dates 3/1/09-3/31/09 and get $1 off your next purchase.” The mayo each cost $1.19, and you have two 50 cent off coupons. These coupons are each doubled. You spend 19 cents OOP (then tax) and get back $1 Catalina for your next purchase. These have expiration dates just like coupons, but usually with a much more limited time.
Printable—a coupon off of the internet, which you can print on your home computer. You are often allowed two prints per printer, unless it specifically says differently. To save time you can hit the go back arrow on your computer and then hit refresh to print two. Photocopying of printables is not allowed. If a coupon is e-mailed to your inbox, it often has a specific code number on it for the manufacturer to keep a tally. If you set your printer to print multiple copies of the same coupon, this is fraud. Not only is it unethical, but your store will be out of money because the company can refuse to pay on more than one.
Loadable—a coupon that can be loaded onto your Kroger Plus Card.
Blinkie—a coupon placed on a store aisle directly beside the product that the coupon is for. Often the machine that doles them out has a small blinking red light on it.
Peelie—a coupon that is attached to an item, usually meant to be used immediately.
RR—Register Reward. A Catalina from Walgreens. These cannot be rolled onto the next transaction when you buy the same item and from the same manufacture. Example: Colgate toothpaste is on sale for $2.99 and you get a $2.99 RR for your next purchase. If you buy one toothpaste in one transaction a $2.99 RR will print. If you do another transaction and try to buy the toothpaste with that original RR, a second RR will not print out. You can,
however, use these on other products that have RR.
Transaction 1—buy toothpaste for $2.99 and earn a RR for $2.99.
Transaction 2—buy 5 candy bars on sale and use the $2.99 RR to pay for part of it. These often expire the following week to two weeks.
A RR is considered a coupon. When you check-out, you must have as many items as you do coupons. So if you are “stacking” coupons and have two for any particular item, you must make sure that you have another “filler” item that doesn’t have a coupon in order to use it. (You would need to buy a small “filler” like a 8 cent Laffy Taffy candy from the front of the store or a very cheap filler item)
ECB—Extra Care Buck. A Catalina from CVS. These can be rolled from one transaction to another because you will use your CVS Advantage card which keeps a tally of how many items are bought. CVS deals will often have a limit per customer. These also have a more limited expiration date.
Rolling deals—using money earned from one deal to pay for another so that your OOP is limited. Example: Spend $5 OOP at CVS and earn a $5 ECB. Complete another transaction in which you spend that original $5 ECB and earn a $6 ECB, etc.
Circulars—coupon ads inside of the newspaper or weekly store ads in the newspaper.
Loss Leader—an advertised deal that is sold at a price that is often cheaper than the store bought it at. These are used to get you
in the store so that you will purchase other items that you need from your grocery list.
Mark down/Mgr. Special—an item that is about to expire that is reduced in price for quick sale.
Brand Loyalty—shopping at only the same stores every week. Buying the same type of a product each time. “I only buy Tide” “I only drink Pepsi.” (Don’t be)
Whether it is using grocery coupons, internet coupons or shopping locally, simply know how to shop and where to shop is key to shopping smarter and realizing amazing savings. With the right knowledge, shoppers can save their money and never pay full price again!
My personal favorite websites:
Proverbs 31 tells us to contribute to the financial well-being of our family/household by being a faithful steward of time & money God has entrusted us with. Using coupons is just one way we can strive to do this. Shopping the sales, using rebates, and looking for the best deals all go hand-in-hand with using coupons in order to efficiently spend the money God has blessed us with.