Monday, February 16, 2009

Beginning Your Journey to Savings: Coupons

Part 1

Welcome to your journey of saving! If you are brand new to shopping with coupons and saving money by shopping at your local stores, this is where you need to start! (to see the entire series click here)

Start collecting coupons!

  1. Insert coupons- these coupons can be found nearly every Sunday in your local paper! These are what really save you money. Many of you may already use the occasional coupon to save, but I'm going to show you how to save by using lots and lots of coupons! There are 3 main companies that put out coupons:
  • Smart Source (SS)
  • Red Plum (RP) -also called Vlassiss
  • P&G (Procter & Gamble products)

SS and RP are the main ones and are usually in the paper every week (holiday weekends are usually the only times there aren't coupons). P&G normally comes out once a month- in the first week, but lately there have been TWO a month! They have shorter expiration dates (1 to 1 1/2 months) vs. SS and RP's longer expiration dates.

You will probably want more than one copy of each set of coupons in order to maximize savings. I subscribe to the Sunday paper, and then get extra copies by buying one or two on Monday at a reduced price or getting them from friends/family who don't use them all.

There are also other ways to find coupons. Start off with the insert coupons and as you learn to handle those, keep an eye out for the following!

  1. Internet Printables (IP's) coupons found online and printed on your home computer. These are often found on the manufacturer's website or, and many other places! You can usually print 2 per computer! They are often the same as current insert coupons, but can often be a higher value.

  1. Blinkies- These are the little "blinking" machines found on store shelves, usually near the product they are good on. You can often use these in stores other than where you found them! (Ex: recently Publix had .75 off of Kraft Cheese blinkies which many people used at Harris Teeter- which doubles coupons up to .99!- to get cheese for .40 a bag!) If I see blinkies for a good product or value higher than my insert q's I usually try to snag a few!

  1. Tear Pads- These are usually found in stores near products they are intended for and are usually for cents off or buy this get that free, etc. Some are store specific, so don't try to use them elsewhere! These are usually pretty elusive for me, since they're usually gone before I find them. Be kind and only take what you'll actually need! Just because there is a huge stack, doesn't mean they are all for you!

  1. Store coupons - stores like CVS and Publix offer store specific coupons that can be matched with manufacurer’s coupons. CVS prints some off at the bottom or receipts or at their price scanner machines (if you’re lucky enough to have one in your store! They also have some that are in magazines that you have to actually purchase. Please do the right thing and BUY the magazine vs. ripping them out without paying for it! They and Publix also have magazines, flyers and brochures that are free. Publix usually has theirs in round racks at the front of the store along with the sales ads. You can also subscribe to some of the magazines they have in the racks which include coupons when you get them mailed! Again, do your fellow couponers a favor and leave some for the rest of us, pretty please!

  1. E-coupons- these are coupons that attach to your store loyalty cards. The Kroger family of stores is the main place these work right now. They are usually cents off or buy one get one free. You can visit these sites, load them on your cards and then the coupon amount comes off at the register when you purchase the matching products (the coupon will come off at the end after all items are rung up!)
  • P&G esaver
  • (you only have to use your cell phone to recieve your confirmation code! Otherwise use your pc!)
  • (coupon values are deposited into your college savings account vs coming off your total purchase)

  1. Peelies - these are coupons found directly on the product in stores and can be "peeled" off and used immediately.

  1. Catalinas - these are coupons that spit out in machines near the registers. Sometimes you get $$ off your next order for purchasing specific products and sometimes you will receive cents off a certain item. These are at storse such as Kroger, Harris Teeter, and Walgreen’s. Make sure to keep an eye out for them as cashiers may not always notice them!

  1. Magazines - many times magazines have manufacturer's coupons that you can use just like insert coupons. They are often a higher value than similar ones in inserts. "All You," which is distributed exclusively by Wal-Mart, has TONS of coupons. "Parents" magazine, “Shape,” “Family Fun,” and many more offer coupons. The only magazine I ever pay for is “All You.” The value of the coupons more than makes up for the around $2 price of the mag. Very often you can get offers of free subscriptions to other magazines that contain coupons. I will be listing free magazine offers often!

  1. Clipping services- you can buy lots of coupons on eBay and other sites. You are purchasing the "time" it takes the seller to clip and sort coupons, not the coupons themselves. I personally have no experience with this, so if you are interested check out this post by Mommy Snacks. You’ll soon discover that there are coupons that you will want lots of so this service may prove valuable to you!

  1. Manufacturers - Sometimes contacting a company directly can get you some great coupons! You can visit a company's website and complain or compliment a product and often they will send you coupons if you have given them your information. I've gotten some great FREE product coupons this way! It's great to do for products you use a lot which you can never seem to find insert or internet coupons.

Orgainze those coupons!

I, personally, keep just about EVERY coupon, even if it's for something that I probably will never "need." You will soon learn that you can actually make money by buying products you don't need (but you can give away!), and I'll show you how!

Sometimes coupons don't expire for 4-5 months, so you can imagine that you'd accumulate quite the pile! If you don't quickly figure out a way to keep track of them, you'll go nuts! You will have to figure out what is right for you. It might take a bit of trial and error as it did me!

See how others organize their coupons here:

If you are just getting started, I suggest the insert filing or filing in a box. Then as you start to get a feel for couponing you’ll be able to figure out your own best method!

I started off organizing by insert- Keeping the coupons unclipped and filed by date. This worked at first, but I got overwhelmed and spent too much time searching for coupons when I needed to cut them out!

Here is how I currently organize:

I use the Binder method, using old photo album pages to store my coupons. It does take time each week to cut out that week's coupons and store them in the right slots. However, it is worth the time to save me the stress when I need to find a certain coupon or find an unexpected clearance item or sale. I usually spend one day a week, while I'm hanging out watching TV with the hubby! Sometimes I can talk him into clipping while I sort and file them!

Yeah, it's pretty stuffed, but it will slim down the end of the week when this month’s coupons expire! I am NOT the world's neatest or most organized wife, so it's not perfect, and I'm ok with that!

I love all of the great pockets! I usually shove small amounts that need to be filed in the front as you see here!

I also have pockets inside where I put all of the current week's ads.

And a spot to keep P&G inserts. I don't cut those because I usually have several copies, and they expire quicker. All others I clip and file! I'm becoming pretty familiar with P&G products so that I can easily find the coupons I need from those inserts.

Since my binder is pretty big, I don't always take it in the stores with me. However, it is almost ALWAYS in my car so if I find a fantastic deal that I didn't pull coupons for, I can run out to my car to grab them!

For my coupons that I do want to take in the store, I use a small accordion file that fits nicely in my purse!

I have a spot for each store I frequently shop at. Before I go out, I pull out the coupons I know I will need for each store, and also put my shopping list and coupons specific to that store in the slots. (ex: CVS extra care bucks, and Publix store coupons) I also keep a frequently used coupons file that can be used anywhere, and an open file to stick coupons that I may find as I am shopping. In the back, I have a file for my receipts which I'll file later in a larger folder. And in the front, I usually stick my to-do list so I can just glance through the cover to see what I need to do next!

These two things both took trial and error for me, and although I could be more organized, it's what works for me right now! I don't know what I'll do when I start having kids and want to lug around my binder! Perhaps I'll have to shop when the hubby is home!

You will have to come up with a system that works for you! Everyone is different! My mom manages her whole system in a file as small as my purse one!

Please feel free to comment and post your ideas for getting/storing/organizing coupons! Sharing our ideas it what helps make things easier/better!!

~Stacey of Daisy's Deals~

Please email me for questions, suggestions, and anything else at daisysdeals (at) hotmail (dot) com. As I begin this journey, please bear with me as I am still learning myself! If you see anything that you feel is inappropriate or against store/website policies please "politely" let me know.

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