Coupons ~ What You Need To Know!

What You Need To Know About Coupons And How To Get Started!

 I warn you coupon-ing is addicting!  For me its a hobby and it really feels great to save a lot of money.  To think back to a few years ago when we never looked at coupons, we made our list for the grocery store as we shopped, we purchased whatever sounded good at the time and after we would get the groceries home we would go out to eat.  oh man did we waste some money for sure!  Its been a long time since I’ve spent over $100 for groceries for one week.  The thought of that much on food … well there is no way that will happen again!
 

Coupons – How to get them: 

There are many ways to build up your coupon stash.  Coupons.Com, Red Plum, Smart Source, all offer printable coupons.  Sometimes the manufactures web site will offer printable coupons as well. 
 
One of the more common ways to get coupons is thru the Sunday paper.  Usually you can have just the Sunday paper delivered right to your door.  Some papers offer multiple sets of paper for delivery.  However be sure to check all the details for a program like this.  Around here in order to have multiple papers delivered you are required to get delivery on other days as well.  For me that isn’t a benefit I’m interested in since I truly get the paper for just the coupons.  Always call your paper for prices because you can usually negotiate for a lower subscription price.  I pay $1 /week for 1 Sunday paper delivered.  Its $2 if you purchase it at the store.  This only gets me one paper but if I look through the coupons and decide its worth it to have multiple copies I will stop at the store or gas station for 2 more copies.  Be sure to check the paper for the correct number of inserts before you buy it.  What a bummer it is to get home and realzie the coupons you got the extra paper for are no where to be found.  I also ask family member who aren’t interested in coupon-ing for their coupon inserts each week!  I normally end up with 5 or 6 copies of each coupon. 
 

Organizing Coupons:

Coupon Book 

For me the Coupon Book/Binder method works best! 

There are a few reasons I prefer this over a coupon box or leaving the inserts whole.

I don’t feel it’s as time-consuming as some may think.  Sure you have to cut them out but you also do that if your going to put them in a box.  Sure you have to sort them by categories but you do that for a coupon box too.  The main difference for me between a coupon box and book is with the book you are able to scan the pages and see what you have. 

When I first started coupon-ing I tried the box but having to pull out the full category just to see what was in there was annoying and time-consuming.   With the book there are pages for each category and you can easily scan up and down without removing coupons and by simply flipping the pages. 

I didn’t spend a whole lot of time on coupons in February.  My book suffered.  I decided this past Friday it needed to be updated.  I expected this task to take a while since there was a full months worth of work to be done.  To start I pulled out all the expired coupons. 

There were A LOT of them! 

Now my book is mostly bare. 

  

I have a paper delivered to my house each Sunday.  I receive coupons and some full inserts from family members.  If the coupons are great and there are a few that I know I will use and can turn into a great deal I will stop and pick up 2 extra papers.  Always check the paper for the full amount of inserts before you buy.  I have learned that my grocery store always seems to be short one insert.  I’m ok with people looking at me like I’m crazy because im searching the paper before I buy it!  Afterall I’m buying it for the coupons, it wouldn’t be very frugal to buy it and not get any extra inserts!

If I’m playing catchup with the my book or doing them weekly I tend to do so the same way each time.  First I sort my inserts so all like ones are together.

Then I start with one pile

For this group of them I took the 4 Smart Source inserts and layed them out open on the counter.  I flip them all at once and cut out like coupons.  Once I’ve cut all the copies of the coupons for one page I put those in the book where they go.  (side note:  I don’t spend extra time cutting them out perfectly or cutting extra boarders off – if I need more room I can just fold them in half so the picture or desc shows).  I’ve noticed that when I’m getting tired of cutting coupons and I start making piles to put them all in the book at one time, then its time to take a break.   Once there are a bunch of clipped coupons staring at me it feels overwhelming.  If you go insert by inserts its easy to find a stopping point if you need a break. 

Once you’ve clipped and put away all the coupons you have your book should look like this

 

And your ready to make your list and head to the store!

A few notes:  My binder Zips up.  At first I used a regular folder but I quickly learned that coupons can escape way to easily if they aren’t zipped in!  My binder also has 2 zipper pouches on the inside.  One is an insert that would normally hold pens if you were using it for school.  I use that to put all the coupons in that I plan to use for the trip to the store.  That way I’m not having to pull each coupon out as I get the items on my list.  If the store is out of something or I decide not to get it I simply pull that coupon out of the pouch and place it in the smaller pouch that is on the inside cover of my book.  This pouch is much smaller but makes for a convenient place to put unused coupons that need refilling.  Once I’m home I can pull the coupons from that front pouch and put them back where they belong.  I have my book sorted in the following categories:  Deserts, Snacks, Breakfast, Baby, Store specific, Household, Personal Care, Baking & Grocery. 

If a coupon book or box isn’t for you maybe keeping the inserts whole will work.  Some will type up a list of the coupons in the insert and keep a spreadsheet or simply print out the list from Sunday Preview for each week.  If you plan to keep the inserts whole or don’t plan to cut them out right away, make sure you date your inserts so that if you see a great deal and need to get a coupon you can simply flip to the right insert rather than going through each one page by page.  For me I would still need to take the inserts to the store with the list and a small pair of scissors so that I could still take advantage of a great unadvertised deal.

 

Know your stores policy: 

It’s important to know your stores coupon policy.  Some stores do not have a written policy but have basic information available if you ask them for it.  Around here although Albertson’s takes coupons at face value, Fry’s Food, Safeway and Bashas all double coupons up to $0.50.  This means if I have a coupon for $0.50 and use it they double it to $1.00.  If I have a $0.25 coupon it is now worth $0.50.  Safeway will only allow 3 of the same coupons in one transaction.  Keep this in mind if you are planning to stock up on an item.  Say you have 5 items with matching coupons you will only be able to use 3 of those coupons in the transaction.  But if you only buy 3 and then buy the last 2 in a second transaction you could use all 5 coupons.  Click here for Arizona Store’s Coupon Policy
 
Watch for your store to have coupons events.  Every once in a while Fry’s Food & Albertson’s will have a quadruple up to $.25 coupon week.  This means your coupon for $0.25 will be $1.00 a coupon for $0.50 will still be worth $1.00.  Once Bashas held a double coupon week doubling everything including $1.00 coupons!  That was a great week to stock up on many items that had $1.00 coupons.  So far in my coupon-ing life that has only happened once.   But I will be ready if they ever do it again! 
 
Always remember if your buying something because it’s a good deal but it isn’t something you will use or donate then its NOT a good deal afterall.
 

Time To Shop:

Everyone preps for a trip to the store differently.  But it is something that is required if you want to make the most of your coupons.  For a trip to CVS or Walgreens I usually write down the deals I want to get.  I put the quantity I will buy then the name of the product then the price then any coupons, then ecbs or rr it will print and last the final price (out of pocket) it looks something like this:
 
1  Charmin Basic Toilet Paper      5.97        1-$1./1 Q       $1ecb                 $4.97
2  Cascade Gel                                 2/5.97    2-$1/1 Q’s     $1ecb                 $2.97
2  Oral B Cross Action T.B.            4.00         no Q’s          $4ecb/each    $8.00
              
Get $10 ecbs              total  $15.94          Minus $4 in ecbs from previous purchase    
                                                          Total   OOP $11.97

 

I always total my list before I head out so that I know what my final price should be.  This is an easy way to make sure the prices rang up correctly and you got credit for all your coupons. 
 
For a trip to the grocery store I start by making a list of dinners for the week keeping in mind the sale flyers and goceries you already have on hand.  Once the meals are decided I see what I already have and what I will need.  Then consult the flyers for the best prices on the must haves.  Make a list!  I’m big on lists!  For the grocery store my list is similar to the ones I make for CVS or Walgreens.  First quantity, item, price, coupons and final price oop (out of pocket).  At the bottom I total up my out of pocket.  Not only does this help me when I’m ready to pay to make sure everything rang up correctly but it’s also helpful to keep under budget.  Lets say I have about $64 in groceries and my budget is $75 I know I have an extra $11 to spend if needed.  Incase I forgot something on my list or if I want to add something extra or if I happen to come across a great deal!!  I have wiggle room to add them in without going over budget! 
 

I highly recommend shopping with cash: 

What I love about the cash system is you are limited to your budget and that’s final.  If you have a debt/credit card then its real easy to justify that extra $5 for a few more items.  That $5 adds up to $260 a year but with cash you don’t have the extra $5 to spend in the first place!!  Another reason I prefer cash for groceries is the remaining balance.  Lets say I spent $64 this week on groceries but I had $75 in cash I now have $11 to add to next weeks budget leaving a lot of room for extras or great deals.  If I continue to have money left over each week that adds up! 
For the month of February I ended up with an entires week budget left over!  I was able to skip getting cash and used the change from the previous weeks for an entire week of food!  That was a great joy and a $75 savings for the month! 
 
I hope you find some of these tips helpful! 
 
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15 Responses to Coupons ~ What You Need To Know!

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  3. Amy says:

    where did you find the pages to put in the book? i’ve never seen those before.

    • Amy says:

      Hi,

      I used Mrs. A’s Coupon Organizer

      I love them! I know some will use old card baseball holders there are like 9 slots in a sheet but I really perfer these sheets because you don’t have to trim the coupons down real neat to fit them in. They stay put and yet are easy to get out when needed!

      I orginally ordered 2 packs but I need to put in another order for one more pack! Its tons of fun creating your own coupon book! Let me know how it goes!!

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