Wednesday, November 5, 2014

7 Tips for Beginning Couponing

I have people ask me from time to time how I coupon. I'm not going to go in depth on the how-to of couponing, because it's been done to death and there's nothing really new to add. Instead, I will share a few tips that I think might be often overlooked.

1. Do a little research about which stores in your area are coupon friendly. You'll want to start with a store that isn't a jerk about coupons.

In my area, I really like CVS for non-food related items. I would never buy anything at CVS when it's full price (or even on sale if I didn't have a coupon to pair with it) because their regular prices are ridiculous, but when it comes to sales and coupons it's a great place to shop! If you choose to coupon at CVS, set up a account, sign up for the beauty club, sign up for RX rewards, sign up to get coupons in the mail, sign up for minute clinic emails, and get a CVS card. They have a million ways for you to earn "Extra Care Bucks" which spend just like cash in the store and can be combined with both store and manufacturer coupons. Sometimes I almost feel bad when they pay me for taking merchandise out of their store. Almost.

For grocery items, I like Kroger. The coupon policy isn't as great as CVS, but it's still pretty good. If you shop at Kroger, sign up for a account and make sure your kroger plus card is handy. You also earn a .10/gallon gas discount for every $100 you spend. My one issue with Kroger is that they don't stock sale items as heavily as they should. Often they have "Mega Sales" where you can get extra savings if you buy X number of participating items. These sales are a couponer's happy place...or a couponer's sad place if they're out of stock on something that you need to count toward a "participating item". If you ever see me weeping in the aisles of Kroger, this is what has happened.

2. Once you find the store you want to start with, find a good website that breaks down the weekly ad and matches available coupons to sale items. I like and Both of those also have Facebook groups which are incredibly helpful. Do not waste your time going through the sale ads and trying to find coupons to match. Not all sale items are advertised and there are so many internet resources that have already done that work for you.

3. You don't have to be extreme to get a good deal. If you don't have the space or inclination to stockpile 2000 packages of toilet paper, don't. Personally, I buy two Sunday newspapers per week. That gives me two copies of every coupon and that's enough for my family of 3. The key is to get enough stuff so that you never have to buy something at full price, but not so much stuff that items expire before you can use them. If you see an item that says, "Sale 10/$10!", you do not have to buy 10 of that item. It's $1 each (at least at most stores).

4. Dust off your printer. I use more coupons that I've printed from the internet than newspaper coupons. The store specific couponing websites that I mentioned above will tell you whether a coupon needs to be printed from the internet or if it's available in a newspaper. You can print most coupons twice per computer.

5. Load your store loyalty card with coupons. Just be aware that if you have a coupon loaded to your card, it takes precedence over a paper coupon. You cannot use both, so know which value is higher and remove the coupon from your card before your shopping trip if it's not the better coupon.

6. Follow couponers on instagram. Search #couponcommunity #extremecouponing #kroger #cvs, etc. If you want to know some of the folks I follow, ask me. Instagram is a great way to keep up with crazy good clearance sales.

7. Use grocery rebate apps. There are tons of apps out there and they can generally be used in addition to coupons (check your app for details). These are some great apps that I use regularly. (When you sign up by clicking my referral links, I may or may not get extra rebates.) I think everyone should be using these, even if you don't plan to do any hardcore couponing. It's just an easy way to save on stuff you're buying anyway.

Ibotta- Referral code b6kbyq
SavingStar - You're not supposed to use coupons in conjunction with this one and it takes awhile for your rebate to show up.

Finally, don't show up in the grocery store expecting to walk out with carts full of stuff for free like you've probably seen on TV. A few items per trip for free is doable, but in the real world, your cart is going to contain perishables that we just don't see many high value coupons for. That's ok! Any amount you save is better than paying full price. Just build your small stockpile of non-perishables and go from there.

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The Homemaking Party

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