Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Some tips and tricks with couponing

I am by no means an expert on couponing. I am a rookie, a beginner. But in just 3 days I have gathered a boat load of information that is going to save me thousands of dollars! First off, the best resource for information that I have found is The Krazy Coupon Lady. They have a comprehensive beginners guide to couponing and comprehensive lists of printable coupon websites, freebies, coupon matching deals, store guides, etc. Check them out and get informed!

Here are is some of the information I have learned:

  • First rule of couponing: BE PREPARED. Sure it takes time to clip coupons, study store flyers, find coupon match-ups online and write out  your list but it is well worth the savings.
  • Get organized. Set up a coupon binder and have a schedule for clipping and culling coupons. There is an awesome how-to on coupon binders on The Krazy Coupon Lady. As well as many others online.
  • Stock piling is KEY to savings. Most products hit their rock bottom prices ever 3-4 months. When something is dirt cheap, get several so that you aren't paying full retail when you really have to have it. Example: toothpaste is normally $2.50 - $4.00 per tube but there are almost always deals out there to get toothpaste either FREE or $0.50 or less. So stock up!
  • Just because something is on sale, doesn't mean you need to jump on it. It's easy to buy things you don't need or aren't healthy because you can get them cheap, resist. A good deal is something your family uses and not only is it on sale, you have a store coupon and/or a manufacturers coupon AND you get register rewards. 
  • Learn the lingo. Couponing websites are full of different terms that can get confusing but there are lists all over the internet that explain. Terms to know: BOGO, Catalina, MFC, RR, +up, peelies, RP, SS, PG&e,  etc. 
  • Buy several sunday newspapers. Sure you spend $2 a piece but you will more than make up for in savings every week. 
  • Know your stores coupon policies! Print it out from their website and have it on hand. Often couponers know the policy better than the employees.
  • Know how coupons work. Most stores will accept one manufacturers coupon and one store coupon PER ITEM, not per transaction. If something is buy one, get one free (BOGO) you can still use a BOGO coupon and get BOTH free (this works at most stores)!!
  • Utilize your stores rewards programs. It is so so important to saving the big bucks. Grocery stores print out catalina coupons that spit out at the end of your transaction and they are often great deals. Drug stores have register rewards and rebates. Big stores have gift cards.
  • If jumping in intimidates you, START SLOW. Learn one store at a time. Use coupons when you can. Don't stress about it. Savings come with knowledge and knowledge comes with experience.
  • Get to the store EARLY. There are more people then you would think that are out there doing this so get there first to get what you need. If the store is out of something ask the clerks when they get their shipments and get there early the next day.
  • Don't be afraid to ask for rain checks, especially if they don't expire at that store. 
  • Use the coupon on the smallest size it will allow (unless the bigger ones are the same price). You often get more bang for your buck when you combine coupons with smaller sizes. And if your coupon doesn't exclude trial/travel sizes you can often get items FREE!
  • Full retail is a dirty word
  • Plan your meals around what is on sale. Often the front page has the best deals at grocery stores. If meat is on sale for BOGO, stock up and freeze!
  • If you aren't finding coupons for something you use a lot or that you love, check their website! Manufacturers often offer coupons if you sign up for emails or "like" them on facebook. You can always email them too! Manufacturers want your business!
  • Forget brand loyalty, you'll save more that way and you might even find something you like!
  • Take your coupon binder with you when you shop and look out for surprise deals and clearance that you can use them with.
  • Know how much your favorite/frequently purchased items cost at full retail, on sale and rock bottom price so you know when to get them. Keep a list of "stock-up" prices for things you use. Example: $0.50 toothpaste, deodorant, toothbrushes, $1.60 milk (milk freezes!), $0.75 box of cereal, etc.
  • There are coupons out there for fresh produce and organic items! Don't forget to check your cereal boxes or other items for "peelies" coupons.
  • Be courteous to your checkers, coupons and multiple transactions do take more time and can be a hassle, so be nice.  However, don't budge if you know the rules. Ask for a manager if a cashier won't accommodate something  you know to be a corporate rule. Call corporate while in the store if  you need to. Knowledge is power!
Okay, there it is. My tips and tricks so far. Hopefully this helps anyone looking to try this!

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