Couponing 101

How to Use Coupons to Your Advantage

Using coupons can be confusing, but once you know the rules it will be much easier to navigate the couponing world. In order to maximize your savings you must match coupons with store sales and clearance items. You will save more money if you plan your trips out, and stockpile some important items like toilet paper, toothpaste, laundry detergent and dish soap. Here’s some tips to help you along the way.
  • Plan your shopping trips around major retail sales events. Don’t walk into a store without a plan, because if you don’t have a plan your likely to overspend.
  • Remember to use your coupons. Write down what coupons go with what items, and have the written list with you when you checkout.  
  •  Keep your coupons in individual envelopes or packets for each shopping trip for easier safekeeping.
  • Remember that you can combine store coupons, unless the store specifies differently, with manufacturer coupons to maximize savings.
  • Know each stores coupon policies. Don’t go shop at a new store and not know their policies. It won’t end well. You can find store policies on the store’s website.
  • Avoid taking small children shopping with you if you can. Small children can be a big distraction because it usually ends with them wanting what’s not on sale, and it’s either give in or hear them scream.
  • Consider carrying a coupon binder with you whenever you’re at a store. You never know what you’re going to find on sale that day, and you may have a coupon that makes it free!

Types of Coupons

Manufacturer coupons are coupons given out by the company that makes a product. These coupons come in many types. The most typical way a manufacture coupon is presented is through coupon inserts in the Sunday paper. Other ways include coupons sent through postal mail or email, by display on products inside a store, and through coupon data bases. The coupon will say “Manufacturer’s Coupon” on the coupon. Below is examples of manufacturer coupons.

Store Coupons are coupons offered by a store. These coupons are not manufacturer coupons but can typically be combined with a manufacturer coupon unless the store does not allow it. The coupon will usually say the store name such a “Safeway Coupon” (pictured below).  

How do I get these coupons?

The best way to get these coupons is by purchasing the Sunday Newspaper. I’d say if you want to be serious about using coupons you must purchase this paper every Sunday that inserts will be available. On major holidays there are no coupon inserts. It’s the most important part of my ability to save money, and will make saving money easier for you! Generally what you will find in your Sunday newspaper will look like below (P&G, Redplum & SmartSource). You do not always get all 3 in your newspaper, sometimes you will get only 1 or two and other times you will get an extra SmartSource or RedPlum.

Coupon Databases: A variety of coupons are found in databases that you don’t always find in the coupon inserts. The databases are free to use but you must print the coupons out, so ink will be spent. Sometimes lots of it!You can find a savings center on this blog in the tabs, under “print coupons”.

Through the Postal Mail: Sometimes manufacturers and stores will send you coupons through snail mail. You can also get coupons by mailing product companies and telling them how much you love a product. They sometimes will send coupons. Do not mail them requesting coupons though.  

Off of Products: When you buy a product sometimes there will be a manufacture’s coupon attached or affixed on the package. As an example of this would be “try me” stickers on band aids. You purchase the package, and send off the try me mail in rebate. A couple weeks later you will receive a check for the purchase price. Another example would be opening a bag of cat food and finding a coupon affixed to the inside packaging.  

Social Media Sites: Face book, MySpace, Twitter are all used by product manufactures to promote product. It’s the new way since technology has expanded so much in recent years.  

Clipping Services: Clipping services are available to purchase coupons that you need. I’d use these as a last resort sort of thing because they do sometimes cost more than just purchasing a Sunday paper, and it’s not guaranteed that you will ever see what you purchased. For example, I have purchased coupons on eBay and sometimes I do not receive what I pay for. You just have to be very careful. 

If it’s your goal to save more than a couple hundred dollars a year then organization is going to be your best friend. I can’t stress enough how important it is. Here’s a look at what my organization system looks like. 

If you can, get a zip up binder that has an accordion file compartment and lots of storage space. Purchase baseball card holders to store your coupons in. Use dividers to organize your coupons according to food, household, pet, ect. 

Don’t clip all of your coupon inserts. Keep at least one whole so you have a way to look through the coupon inserts by date. By doing so you will save a lot of time. 

Have your family help you organize your coupons. Clipping coupons is time consuming and can easily eat hours out of your day. Get the kids on board. Make it a game! Bribe them, LOL. Hey whatever works:)


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