Thursday, May 13, 2010

How to Thursdays.....How to Start Using Coupons

I'm not a coupon blogger, but I am a blogger who loves coupons! I just recently started using coupons and I am officially hooked. Here are a few tips I've learned so far on my couponing journey that I hope will help you get started on yours! WARNING….It's very addicting!!!

1) Start slow. It takes a while to get the hang of using coupons (I'm still learning). Also, it will take you four weeks or so to accumulate a stockpile of coupons to work with. Don't expect to waltz in the grocery store and get $100 worth of groceries for $20 on the day after you decided to become a coupon queen. Be prepared to stand in the aisle going through all your coupons and then searching through the products on the shelf looking for the items the store has on sale and trying to figure out how to get the most out of your coupons. This does get easier and you begin to start looking less like a coupon newbie the more trips you make. You will make mistakes, but learn from those mistakes, give yourself a break, and keep pursuing savings. You'll get the hang of it!
2) Spend a reasonable amount of time on couponing. It's very easy to spend a lot of time getting ready for a grocery trip. So before you start, decide how much time you can give to your money-saving efforts. If you're up 'til three a.m. scouring couponing website forums and you haven't bathed your kids in two weeks, you might want to scale back a little bit. When you are first getting started, give yourself two hours a week to work on couponing. After you get the hang of it, shoot for one hour a week.
3) Don't clip every coupon. Just clip the ones you think you will use. If you don't have a dog, don't clip dog food coupons. Also, don't print every internet coupon you can find. That will only amount to a huge waste of ink and paper. Just print and clip the ones for products you normally buy (or want to start buying) or for ones you know are on sale that week. I usually go online to on Sunday morning and preview what the coupons will be that week. If I want those coupons I go buy the paper, if not then I go to my other sources.
4) Find coupon sources. There are many websites out there that have coupons but here is a list of sources that I have found to be most useful and easiest to use.
  • Coupon Inserts that come in the paper: There are three main types of inserts: Redplum (RP), Smartsource (SS), and Proctor & Gamble (PG). There are occasionally other inserts but these are the main ones.
  • Printable Coupons: Many companies offer coupons on their main websites and there are also some main sites to print from. (or from the link in my sidebar), Redplum, and Smartsource.
  • Home Mailers: These are coupons that you sign up for on companies' websites and then they mail them to your home. They usually send out good coupons. If you are a new mom, you MUST sign up at your brand of choice websites for diapers and formula. Most name brand formula websites send $3-11 off coupons. Now who wouldn't want that?!?
  • Store coupons: Many stores offer coupons that can be used exclusively at their store. You can find these in their weekly ads that come in the Sunday paper, in your mail on Wednesdays, and printable coupons on the stores' website. Store coupons can usually be combined with Manufacturer coupons which save you even more money.
  • Coupon Blogs: I use some excellent coupon blogs to plan my grocery and drug store trips each week. These bloggers tell you what's on sale at which stores, where to find the coupons for those sale items, and most importantly, Matchup those two things so you can see what the final sale price would be on your items after coupons, before you ever even go to the store! Matchups are vital; they tell which stores are best to shop at for the week and save the most money. I want to give a shout out to the coupon bloggers I use most. To find the best deals every week, go to Money Saving Queen, Thrifty Mama, Deal Seeking Mom.
5) Divide and conquer. There are two big areas you can save in the retail market: grocery stores and drug stores. Pick one store at a time and become an expert at that store first, then move on to another and learn their system. Try learning CVS' system first and then tackle Walgreens. (Personal Note: If I were you, I'd start with CVS because I believe this where you can save the most money. For a great CVS Tutorial, check out the Thrifty Mama's post here.) Homeland is also another great store to use because they DOUBLE COUPONS up to a $1, everyday!
6) Don't try to figure all the deals out yourself. It can be very overwhelming to go through all the store ads and figure out which deals are the good ones and which deals you have coupons for – so DON'T DO IT! Visit these great blogs Money Saving Queen, Thrifty Mama, Deal Seeking Mom and take advantage of their hard work. Just be sure to comment and say thanks!
7) Finally, be organized. There are many different ways to organize your coupons, just do a google search for "organize coupons" and you'll get some great ideas. I currently just use a plain old envelope and paperclip different categories of coupons together. It's definitely not the best method but it works for now.

Many people go to much greater lengths of couponing then I ever will, for example, I will never buy coupons, participate in coupon trades or dig in dumpsters for other peoples thrown out coupon inserts (yes, this is something that some people actually do). I think the whole idea behind coupons is to just do as much as you feel comfortable with, don't spend too much time on it and don't buy things just because you have a coupon for it. One last thing, don't let other people who don't use coupons discourage you from SAVING MONEY. There is nothing wrong with trying to save money on the things that you are already going to buy. I can guarantee you that they won't be laughing when they see just how much money you are saving from couponing and you finally get to buy that new Maytag front loading washer and dryer or go on that much needed vacation to Mexico (sorry, I just got distracted with my wish list items, please feel free to insert your own). Don't pass up clipping a coupon for something you use, saying, "Oh, it's only a dollar." Designate a purpose for that dollar and then go out and save it! Before you know it, you'll be able to achieve some great financial goals.

1 comment:

staci said...

Hi, I just wanted to say i'm new at couponing and it's definatly complicated at times. I read your article and took your advise and used your tips. My last wal-mart trip i saved $8.00 by using coupons!! I was sooo excited. I will continue reading and learning from you. Thanks a million.
P.S. I love your blog!!!

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