Aug 4, 2013

COUPONING! Savin some money!!

Today, I am going to share my way of doing coupons.  Please note, I am NOT a professional.  I don't claim to know everything and I will be the first to tell you that there is tons more information out there.  I was fortunate enough to attend the class of an experienced and professional.  She,  however has resigned from the limelight and resumed her normal life.  Trust me, if she were still going I would soo be directing you to her, rather than trying to explain this myself.  

But I want to share with you what "I" do.  I am sharing this because I am sure there are PLENTY of you that simply have given up on couponing, thinking it is just too overwhelming and too much work and too confusing and there is no way you can drive all over God's creation looking for the best deal.  Me neither! So relax, you can do this!

First thing is figure out how you want to sort your coupons.  I personally like the whole binder idea.  I got one that has a zipper so none of the precious clippies can escape.  But you do what works for you.  Might I add though, this weekend (or very soon in your state) is the TAX FREE HOLIDAY and you might be able to get one on sale and tax free.  Or you can buy one of the books specified for couponing or a white envie works well too. 

Then I used my handy dandy StampinUp! label punch.  I looove this thing and use it constantly!  I got baseball card holders and separated them into sections.  Like frozen, baking, paper, toiletries....etc. 

Then I got a pencil pouch to put in the front of my binder.  I will explain more about this a little later.

First and foremost...know your base price.  Know what you usually spend for things.  For instance, we know that cookies at Dollar General are usually $1.85 not on sale.  So even if you have a coupon for $1.00 off, if the cookies at Kroger are $4.00 you would still be better to go back to Dollar General.  I know you are probly, I am NOT driving all over to do this.  I know, I know.  I promise I am NOT sending you on a wild goose chase.  I shop Kroger, and Dollar General. 

Walmart is hands down the cheapest place, but it makes me crazy to go there and I'd prefer to have my sanity than those pennies.  So I avoid the place.  I shop Kroger because it is the only store locally that doubles their coupons.  Again I will get to that in a minute.  I shop Dollar General because they are convenient to my home and also they have pretty good deals. 

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE if you take NOTHING else away from this post, please note that the ridiculous TV show, Extreme Couponing is a joke.  I know this, because the girl who trained me was asked to be on the show, she denied the opportunity because of the unethical and ridiculous ways the show portrays couponing.  There is NO reason for you to buy 500 packages of diapers for a baby you do not have.  There is no reason to have 700 tubes of toothpaste unless you are helping an organization, same with the diapers.  That show is nothing more than glorified hoarding, with a lot of padding both from stores and manufacturers to make it look good for TV.

Before I get on with it, let me point a few things about the average coupon.  A store coupon is issued by the store, not valid anywhere but that store UNLESS the competitor states it in their own policy.  It can be identified easily because it has only ONE barcode. 

A manufacturer coupon has two barcodes.  These generally can be used anywhere that accepts coupons.

It is very very important for you to go to customer service at your store and ask for a copy of their coupon policy.  Because everything that I am sharing with you today is only relevant to my local stores.  Not all stores are equal.  Not all states are equal.  Also keep in mind the manager has the right to deny any coupon.  I've never had this happen to me...but it is a possibility. 

This is a Catalina.  Which is a coupon that is spit out at the register, based on what you have purchased.  You can see this is a Manufacturers coupon by the double bar code.

DOUBLING COUPONS:  Manufacturer coupons are doubled at Kroger up to $.50.  So if I have 50 cents off a bottle of mustard, it actually is $1 off.  Store coupons are not usually doubled.

STACKING COUPONS:  You can use both a store coupon and manufacturers coupon (of course if policy permits) on the same item.  You cannot use two different manufacturer's coupons on the same item.  Nor two store coupons.  So for instance.  Bottle of mustard is $2.49.  I have $.50 off manufacturer's coupon and I have $.50 store coupon AND the mustard is on sale for $1.50.  So $1.50 - $.50 for one manufacturer, then -$.50 again because it doubles, then -$.50 for the store coupon.  That mustard is now free. 

No, you do not have to get a Sunday Paper to get the coupons, you can go online to or  print your desired coupons on anything.  Scrap paper, old coloring long as the coupon is legible and the barcode is scannable, its good!  You are allowed 2 of each coupon per computer.  There are several sites that help you out with previewing the inserts if you like to plan.

Shop your kitchen first.  Make a note of what you have.  If you have 3 bottles of BBQ sauce and only use 1 a month, chances are unless they are paying you to take the sauce a sale is not going to effect you.  Remember, save money on what you need, do not hoard.  

Coupon cycles go in 12 to 16 week cycles.  So how HH (thats what we'll call my trainer) taught us was to buy enough for those 12 weeks.  For instance: her family eats two boxes of granola bars per week.  So she would wait for sale, use the coupons and buy 24 boxes.  Mind you...I dont do this.  For one, I dont have enough room to store 24 boxes of granola bars, for 2 if I have them, my family will devour them and then we have 4 weeks of no granola bars cause we ate them all and for 3...I dont put that much effort into chasing coupons.  Things I DO hoard:  feminine products, tooth paste, tooth brushes and condiments that we fly thru.  

Any of you that shop Kroger know about their 10 for $10 deals.  Tooth paste and brushes always have coupons.  They are also regularly on sale.  $.50 coupon x2 cause it doubles on a toothbrush thats 10 for  $10...guess what, its now free.  I have to tell you, I use these every chance I get.  NOT because I have a secret tower of Colgate in my closet, but because these are always needed, can be easily added to our Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes in October or given to a shelter (or to the house guest that forgot theirs).  But be careful, stores like to mark up prices to mark em down.  Know your base price.  I used to have mine written down.  Now that we bought pretty much the same things every time I know them by heart.

Read the coupon carefully.  Looks can be deceiving.  It might say $1 off a bag of carrots, but have a different photo on the front.  Or it might say store coupon but have two barcodes or vise versa.

Store cards.  Get one.  Go home and register it and sign up for the clubs.  Use your card every time.  As awful as it is, they track what you buy.  Bad in the sense its kind of creepy, good in the fact they will then send you killer coupons that relate to you especially.  When you sign on to the stores website, they give you the option to load coupons to the card.  Be careful.  If you load it, then find a paper coupon that is better you cannot use the paper one, the digital one will take precedence before the paper and since you cannot stack two manufacturers it wont work.

When you get to the store, list in hand, coupon book ready to roll, take a deep breath, you got this.  When I put a product in my cart and I want to use my coupon, I pull it out of my binder and place it in the zippered bag.  

Some people prefer to only take the coupons that they KNOW they are going to use with them to the store.  If this works better for you, go for it.  For me, I am NOT that organized.  Plus the thought of a secret store sale popping up on an item I know I have a coupon for, but not with me, kills me.

Checkin out.  You get to the cashier...scared to death because you have a gojillion dollars worth of food in your cart and just a few dollars to pay for it all.  *gulp*  I promise, yer gonna be ok.  First, give them your store card.  Do not wait until the end of the transaction.  The card readers are slow....and if you have Quick Draw McCraw as your cashier he could total it out before your card savings is completely done processing.  Sending those savings to cyber land to never be claimed.  They are yours, use them!

If it is at all possible, watch the transaction.  Stores try to get the sales right, but they are human and errors happen, not usually in your favor.  I know this is hard since you are probly wrangling a toddler, a husband and a teenager, all who are not happy to be there in  the first place. Thankfully my husband is good at math, is a good shopper and usually goes with me to the store to watch the tape while I unload the cart onto the conveyer belt.  At the end, after your total is figured, hand over the coupons, yes, this time you must watch the tape.  Make sure yer getting doubles where you deserve them and all of the coupons are scanned and accounted for.

Do not be disappointed if your savings seem piddly at first.  It is worth it I promise.  On average I save about $230 a month by using coupons.  My kitchen menu runs smoother because my meals are planned and I know I have the ingredients when I go to get them.

Sundays, i get the paper, i clip my coupons and sort thru my binder.  Pulling out expired coupons and putting  in the new.  I take my binder back to the car and leave it there.  Its way easier to grab it when I have to stop for milk or need a few things.  There are places to share your expired coupons with as well.  The military bases accept the coupons past the date.  So help a friend.

Again, this is just my way.  A Google search will show you lots of options.  Just take babysteps and go for it!

**EDITED TO ADD:  Stores give rain checks.  Even if you have a coupon that expires tomorrow you can use it when your store restocks.  Simply go to customer service.  Tell them you need a rain check on that mustard that's on sale for a dollar but there's no more on the shelf.  Have the customer service rep staple the coupon to the rain check.  Then when the store has it back in stock, you have your coupon and the sale price.  We use this ALL the time.  Never had a problem at all with them honoring the coupons or the rain checks.


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