Why should I use coupons?
Using coupons allows you to spend less money on products you are already buying. Manufacturers send out coupons to entice you to buy their product by saving you a little money. The trick is to use the coupons to your advantage. Yes, saving $1 on a $4 box of cereal is good but getting it FREE is better!
I don’t understand your abbreviations or terminology?
There is a standard for referencing coupons. Most sites you view should have similar abbreviations and coupon terminology. Here are the most common:
Insert-the group of coupons found in the newspaper
SS-Smartsource coupon insert
RP-Red Plum coupon insert
PG-Proctor and Gamble coupon insert
GM-General Mills insert
All You Mag-coupons from the All You Magazine (followed by issue month)
01/02-date coupon insert was delivered (Jan. 2nd)
$1/2 or $0.50/1-the coupon value is $1 off when you buy 2 products or get $0.50 off when you buy 1.
$1/2 from 01/02 SS insert-get $1 off 2 products, coupon found in the Smartsource insert from Jan. 2nd
Peelie-coupon found stuck to an item
Blinkie-coupon found in a machine near the item (usually has a blinking light)
Tearpad-coupon found on a pad near an item-you tear off a coupon
Catalina-coupon or advertisement printed at the register-named after the machine itself
Mailer-coupons received in the mail or included with a free sample
BOGO or B1G1-Buy 1 item, get 1 item Free
Printable coupon or IE-a coupon printed online
Overage-sometimes you will make money by using a coupon paired with a register reward deal or similar promotion. Ex. Item price is $5.99, earn $5.99 RR. Essentially you are getting this item for free after the RR but if you have $1.50 coupon you only spent $4.49 and still received the $5.99 RR. You have made a “profit” of $1.50!
OOP-Out Of Pocket, initial expense
WYB-When You Buy, followed by a number
RR-Register Reward from Walgreens-more to follow part 2
ECB-ExtraCare Buck from CVS-more to follow part 3
“Roll” a Catalina-using a Catalina, RR or ECB earned from your 1st transaction to pay for your 2nd transaction, using the 2nd Catalina to pay for a 3rd transaction and so on-more to follow in Parts 2 and 3
Where do you get coupons?
The Sunday paper is one of the best sources for coupons. There is typically 1 coupon insert (Smartsource) per week. In my area, we receive the Red Plum insert in the mail on Tuesday. Monthly, Proctor and Gamble will include an insert and General Mills periodically includes coupon inserts as well.
• Want to kick your couponing up a notch? Have multiple coupons by purchasing extra papers. I like The Dollar Tree because the price per paper is $1 versus the standard $2. Better yet, ask friends and family that don’t clip coupons to save their inserts for you. I purchase 1-2 extra a week and receive 2 inserts FREE from family.
• Please note that although most coupons are distributed throughout the country some coupons are region specific. One area may receive $0.50 off while another receives $1 off the same product. Make sure the coupon listed on the site you are reviewing matches your coupon. I base my matchups on the Hampton Roads Area of VA.
Online sites are Fantastic resources for coupons. The norm is a site allowing 2 prints per computer. Have more than 1 computer? Print from each. This is my favorite! I will give you the link for coupons in my matchups. You can always use my sidebar on the right for access to more coupons. A few sites to review are:
ECoupons are coupons that link directly to a stores loyalty card (ie. Kroger). When your card is scanned at the register the coupons are supposed to automatically come off.
Store Aisles can be great resources for coupons. “Peelies” on the product and Tearpads or “blinkies” near items. Remember that “blinkies” tend to be coded with a 9 so the coupon won’t multiply.
Catalina’s often print from the register at the end of your purchase. Typically, they are store specific but some stores accept 1 competitors manufacture coupon per transaction. You will also receive coupons via Catalina for money back promotions such as spend $25 get $5 off your next purchase and notices alerting you to future promotions such as buy 5 Nature Valley Granola Bars get $3.
How do you organize your coupons?
There are numerous ways to organize coupons and you need to find the best method for YOU:
You can start off small and use an index folder or an index box (like a recipe box). This method works fine if you are new to couponing and don’t plan on cutting out or printing all coupons available or having multiples of coupons. The nice thing about the folder is that it fits into your purse so it’s always with you. This was the method I used when I first started using coupons. Check out OrganizingJunkie for her Index system.
I now use a coupon binder shown above. You need a 2 ½-3in Zipper binder with dividers and baseball card holder sleeves (approx $5 pack). I spent approximately $30 to start my binder. The major cost was the binder itself. Look for before and after school sales, yard sales or thrift stores. The nice thing about the binder is it gives me TONS of room and the zipper keeps everything in. I have a pocket for a calculator, pen, small scissors, and the front has divider pockets for storing large coupons and coupon policies. The downside it that it is large and cumbersome. I keep it in a reusable shopping bag along with extra shopping bags to keep everything together.
A coupon box is a box that you divide and organize your coupons in. I’d recommend something with a lid to avoid coupons falling out on the way to the store. ThriftyMama uses this method, check it out (about 1/2 way down).
A couponizer is a book made of pocket folders that can be purchased or you could make your own. Check out MrsMoneysaver for a review of and a look at her couponizer.
Some people find it easier to not clip any coupons but rely on sites that tell them what coupon is in which insert. You will notice couponing sites, like mine, telling you to find the $1.50/1 Pert Plus for Men in the 01/24 SS insert. Every time you get an insert write the date and source on the insert itself (01/24 SS). Then you will know which insert to flip through to get the coupon you need. Your organization method for this will depend on you. Filing all SS together, dividing my month; you need to decide. This method didn’t work for me because it took me to long to find and cut the coupons I needed and I didn’t have others with me if I walked into the store and saw another unadvertised deal or markdown. However, this will save you from cutting and filing coupons that you don’t use.
Remember that you can change your coupon organization method at anytime to suit YOUR needs.
What do you mean by double and triple coupons?
Retailers use coupon promotions to get you into their store. There are always policies regulating the number and type of coupons accepted. It is important to know the coupon policy before shopping. For example, Harris Teeter doubles coupons up to and including $0.99 everyday. Take in a coupon with a face value of $0.75 and the store will double the coupon value to $1.50 off, the value has doubled. However, take in $1 coupon and you just get the $1 off. When there is a triple coupon promotion, triple coupons up to $0.99. The same $0.75 coupon will now be worth $2.25, the value has tripled! Pair that with a sale and you’ve just scored an item super cheap or FREE.
My coupon states “Do Not Double”
Manufacturers may put this on a coupon informing the retailer that they will only reimburse for the coupons face value. The store essentially pays the additional money when they multiply your coupon. Some stores will not double or triple these coupons. Some have been known to manually adjust down a coupon that has multiplied. Again, know your stores policy. A good rule is if the first number of the coupon code is a 5 the coupon will double. If the first number is a 9 the coupon will not double.
Can you use expired coupons?
No, stores in the Hampton Roads area and most areas in the US will not accept an expired coupon.
Overseas Military Bases accept coupons up to 6 months past the expiration date. Checkout CouponMom for more info.
How do you have time to get all these deals?
The truth, I don’t. I don’t purchase everything posted and I don’t make it to all the stores weekly. I pick the stores that have the best deals on what I need or use and start there. Time and budget permitting, I’ll make a few extra stops. Deals come around in cycles, so you’ll get the chance for an item again. Remember that your TIME is MONEY and you have to put your family FIRST! I would drive myself and kids crazy if I tried to hit every store. I did when I first started out. IT IS OKAY TO MISS A DEAL!
I’m new to couponing and I feel overwhelmed!?
There’s a LOT of information out there. I still learn tips and policies. The key is to start small. Pick 1 store to start with, preferably close to home. If you want to focus on hygiene products start with Walgreens or CVS. Learn their policies, start getting those deals and saving money then move on to another store. Most importantly, Ask questions! You’re not the only one with the question, trust me.
Can I use your post on my blog?
Yes, with a link back to my site. All posts and pictures are copyright The Coupon Challenge. You can copy a few sentences, but please, not the entire post. Always provide a link back to my page, Thanks!
Tip 1: Get organized before you hit the store:
Make a list of the items you intend to purchase
Get all the coupons together that you need-I clip to my list
Make a note if you’re following a promotion and need to do multiple transactions or have a specific number of items or value.
Bring a calculator
Tip 2: Cut all coupons from the inserts together:
Collect all the same inserts and tear the pages apart
Line up pages so you can cut all of the same coupon at the same time so all page 1 will be stacked, all page 5, and so on…
Be careful not to cut off barcodes or expirations dates
This will save you a Monumental amount of time