Coupon 101

Planning, Clipping and Shopping in Two Hours a week! Coupon 101 – Grab It Saving Style!

In 2010, 332 billion coupons distributed with a value of $485 billion. 52% of coupon users spend more than 15 minutes per week searching for coupons while 25% of coupon users spend 30-60 minutes.  Every year consumer product manufacturers spend millions of dollars to provide the shopping public with billions of dollars worth of coupons.  They even set their promotion schedule and product pricing with these coupons in mind.  If there is a sale and a coupon available that allows you to get the product for free, rest assured that you’re not pulling a scam (regardless of what the cashier might say).  Following my couponing basics will get in couponing 2 hours a week!  No Kidding!

Before jumping into coupon 101, let’s review what couponing will do. To get started, you need to have a source for your coupons.  The best source is your Sunday newspaper.  I suggest getting a subscription because the coupon inserts that are in the home delivery papers are often better than in the papers purchased at the store.  A benefit of home-delivery is that you often get a small discount for your subscription.  Check the Las Vegas Review Journal newspaper link at the top for a discount home delivery.

Couponing is NOT about buying Junk Food.  We’re not here to purchase 500 Power Aids and 200 Ramen noodles.  Couponing is about purchased healthy tasty foods… including organic products.

Start Slowly — Do not expect to walk in to a store and get $200 worth of groceries for FREE.  Couponing takes time to work up to the Extreme. By using coupon matching websites like GrabItSavings.com and full shopping list coupon match-up grocerysmarts.com, you can check to see if what you are planning to buy has a coupon available.  By just using a few coupons on your weekly basics you can save each a week.

Plan Ahead — Everyone needs a supply of toiletry items – toothpaste, paper towels, and soaps…  Stocking up when these items are on sale and using a coupon will ensure that you always have these in your supply closet and never pay full price again.  Buying these household basics through your planning process can save you.

Try New Brands — If you have always been a Charmin person, consider trying another brand to take advantage of a great bargain.  I used to be brand loyal, until I couponing and a light bulb went on when I realized that it did not pay to be loyal.  Of course there are products that I am loyal to and won’t budge.

Save Your Coupon Inserts —Each week take my inserts and DO NOT CUT THEM! I will explain the reasoning in the next steps. Take your inserts and write the date on the front with a sharpie and file them in date order.  Look on the coupon insert bind for the publication date.  Keep each insert for five months.  You never know when you’ll need that coupon from an insert six months ago.  I know it sounds weird, but keep reading.

Coupon 101 Steps

Step 1 – Organize Your Coupons — There are many different systems out there (binders, expanding files, envelopes, etc.), but the only one that works is the one you will use.  I’ve used the expanding file system and it works quite well.  Remember do not cut your coupons.  Pull the Sunday paper coupon insert, sharpie the date on the front and file.

5 MINUTES – Step 1

In addition to the Sunday paper coupon inserts, there are coupons you can print from your home computer.  Many manufacturers have coupons right on their website.  There 3 major resources for printable coupons are coupons.com, redplum.com, and smartsource.com.  These three sites have built in fraud-prevention technology and will require that you download special printing software.  Often these sites will have high value coupons that you will want to print and save for a few weeks to combine with a great sale for even greater savings.

Step 2 – Use FULL grocery store ad and coupon matching websites like GrocerySmarts.  Log in and select your store.  Published advertisements will be active the day the stores ad goes live.  You will be presented with the full grocery advertisement in a grid format.  We rate all the value of the deal in a five star format.  Four and 5 stars are a STOCK UP NOW GET AS MANY AS YOU CAN deal; product details, product sale prices; coupon match-ups and bottom line price after coupons.

To begin, click the gray “Start” button on the right.  You will notice the grid turns gray.  Select all the items you wish to purchase.  Note if there are any coupons available.

Example:

  •       Hot Pockets Snackers on sale for $1.49 and a $1/2 printable coupon is available – final cost 99cents each.
  •       Huggies Diapers, Jumbo on sale for $8.99 and a $1 /1 coupon is available in the Smart Source dated 2-12 – final cost $7.99

You say what about clipping my coupons?  Well, remember in step one filing your coupons?  When you have completed your shopping list, click the “Shrink” button.  This will remove all the unselected items from your shopping list.  Now you print this list and prepare to cut your coupons.  Remember the Huggies $1/1 Smart Source 2-12?  Locate your 2-12 Smart Source insert from your file, cut and replace your insert.  Repeat for all coupons listed.

30 – 60 Minutes – Step 2

Step 3 – Take your paper clipped printout and coupons from Step 2 and proceed to your store.  Stick to your shopping list and necessities not on your list.   You are on your way to Extreme Couponing.

30-60 Minutes – Step 3

Step 4 – Have Fun! – If people in your real life do not think that your couponing is something to be excited about, find online resources such as this site, to share your joy.  Find ways to make using coupon an enjoyable experience.  Even if it’s just using 2 or 3 coupons know that if you’re happy and having fun finding deals that there are like-minded folks who want to offer you encouragement.  Using coupons isn’t supposed to be a job.  A few months of following the above steps will have you bringing in more food and saving more money then you have ever done.

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