Are you convinced that you need to start couponing? If so, let’s get started. Here are 10 coupon basics that you need to know no matter which store you shop at:
#1- Coupons have expiration dates and must be used before they expire. They also have other restrictions that need to be followed: size, quantity, brand, make, etc. Just think of it this way: the Big Print Giveth, the Small Print Taketh Away. For example a Pampers coupon will say $2.50 off in big print. At the outset that seems like an awesome deal. When you read the smaller print it will say off two boxes of Pampers Swaddlers Diapers. The boxes are pricey and it’s usually always a better deal to buy the smaller jumbo packs and use a high value coupon on those. The small print just took the $2.50 and made it not such a great deal after all. Read each coupon carefully.
#2- Coupon websites that match sales with the coupon are the best way to go when planning your shopping trip. They do most all of the work for you. They find the sales and then they find any available coupon for the sales and match them up. It’s awesome! A few that I have been using with a lot of success are:
Favado.com – The coolest thing about it is that it is an app for smart phones and can go with you into the stores. It is VERY accurate and free!
Another great all around match up site is www.grocerysmarts.com. I love this site.With Grocerysmarts.com you can highlight just the stock up prices (I’ll mention more about those below). You can also easily list all the grocery stores in your area on one page. Awesome- especially for price matching. I use this website in conjunction with Krazycouponlady.com and the Favado phone app.
Another website that you can often find awesome, typically unadvertised, or the best deals is thekrazycouponlady.com
Quickly checking at least two and usually three different sources before going to a store ensures that I don’t miss an amazing deal.
Finally, an awesome app that works for just about any popular grocery store and some retail stores and theaters allows you to earn cash back is called Ibotta. Ibotta is like a mobile coupon app/rebate machine. When you buy something being sponsored by Ibotta and the store you bought it at you will earn cash back. At the end of your shopping trip to redeem an item you need to follow a quick process of learning a fact, watching a short clip, or sharing it on Facebook. After that, you simply take a quick photo of your receipt and the product you bought and the cash will be credited to your account.
Another free app is called Checkout51. It is very similar to Ibotta but it can be used with any store. I’ve tested it and It works great! Plus, unlike ibotta it isn’t store exclusive, which is great for people who live in smaller towns and that don’t shop at big chain grocery stores. You can get cash back on milk, eggs, and other everyday groceries. I use this and ibotta together and sometimes get items for free!
#3- You can print off coupons online. Most all coupons can be printed 2 times per computer. If you have a laptop and a desktop you can get 4 coupons to use. You simply either need to hit the back button after a coupon is done printing and it will reprint or you will need to go back and re-select the coupon and print again. These are some of the best resources to find online coupons:
a. Coupons.com—is the largest database of online printable manufacturer coupons. You can often just go to coupons.com and find items that you may have on your grocery list and print them off there. A more efficient use of time is to search on hotcouponworld.com for the items on your grocery list instead of sifting through all of the coupons on coupons.com.
b. HotCouponWorld.com—Is a huge coupon search/database that can search for almost every coupon out there in the USA. Once you are at HotCouponWorld.com, click on the coupon database and search for items that you need. It will show you if there are any coupons out there (printable, insert (non printable), etc.) available for that certain item. (The database doesn’t work with smartphones. You will need to use desktops or laptops to search for coupons for specific items.)
#4- If you use over 5-10 coupons each shopping trip, buying a Sunday newspaper subscription will save you money. I tried both couponing with and without the newspaper. I saved much more by having a newspaper subscription. I actually paid for all 4 of my newspaper subscriptions in the first 3 weeks I had them by using the coupons I found in them.
#5. come in the mail and newspapers. The main mailer is an insert called Red Plum. In some areas Red Plum also comes in the Sunday papers. The abbreviation used for Red Plum on most all couponing sites is RP. Smart Source ( SS) comes in the Sunday papers. Proctor and Gamble (PG) also comes in the newspaper (usually the first paper each month). Side note: another few abbreviations are BOGO ‘buy one get one free” and MM which means it is a money maker. A money maker, in most cases means that by buying the item (which is free) you will have extra money through its purchase to use toward another item in that same purchase. OOP means total out of pocket money you will need to purchase the transaction/products.
#6- Each paper has a date on its tiny spine. If you look closely you will be able to see the date. When you see on the match up sites that there is a sale and a coupon they will tell you where to find the coupon. If it is an internet coupon there will be a link to click to go to that site. If it is a newspaper coupon they will state it by using the abbreviation of the insert and date on its spine. For example, it will look like this: Huggies 2.00/1 Jumbo Pack SS 1/12 meaning that in the Smart Source insert that was delivered on January 12th you can find a 2.00 off one package of Huggies diapers (that was just an example). Inserts that are mailed don’t always have the same date stamped on them as the date they arrived because they arrive on different days for different people.
#7- Make sure to buy multiples of the items you will use that are on sale and have coupons to go with them. Extreme Couponing is when you stock up on items that are rock bottom in price. This is how you are going to save the most money. All three resources/websites I mentioned above use a scale to show how good of a deal the sale/coupon matchup is. If they are listed as a stock up or 5 star deal then buy multiples because most items only go on sale with coupons every 3 or 6 months.
#8- The easiest most efficient way to coupon is not to clip coupons until you are sure you are going to use them. I use an accordion binder and slip the coupon inserts into it when they come on Sundays. I keep all the Red Plums together, the PG’s together, and the SS’s together in one or two sections. I order them newest to oldest. I also keep my printed coupons and loose random coupons that have come in mailers, magazines, etc. in their own sections as well.
- Once the insert is a few months old I quickly scan through it. If the majority of coupons are expired I take the inserts and recycle/trash them. I am constantly rotating my inserts in and out of my binder so they all fit.
#9-Start at one store and get familiar with the coupons, clearance section, rewards programs, restrictions etc. Once you feel like you understand that store, try mastering another in your area.
#10- Monitor your expenditures. This deserves a post all on its own but here it is: You can go broke saving money. That is right, you can go broke saving money. If I don’t closely monitor myself I will try to get every single deal out there and spend hours a day couponing. When I do this I usually always over spend in our grocery category. How did I overspend by saving 40-100% off? It is the amount of small purchases I make. They really do add up.
Moderation and slowly building a stock pile is the way to go. Couponing can be a thrill and give you a rush when you walk away from the store with discounted and even free stuff . Just realize you paid taxes, gas to get to the store, money on the newspapers, paper, ink etc. and time. Couponing is one of the best ways to save on groceries and other household items but it can get expensive if you try to build a stock pile overnight or are in the stores everyday. Think about trying to take a turtle approach and try not to be the hare (like I was). A thing I do to balance this out is to only extreme coupon a few weeks out of the month instead of all four.
Okay, so now you have some great tips and tricks. Play around with the apps, check out the websites, but a Sunday paper, and try your hand at couponing this week. Let me know how much you save! 💋