Coupon Basics

Proverbs 31:13

She shops around for the best yarns and cottons and enjoys knitting and sewing.

I may not be knitting and sewing yet.. but here is how I “shop around”!

I am certainly no expert at couponing yet… but here are a few rules that have helped me get started in the past 2 months.

First- start off by clipping the coupons from your local Sunday paper. You may even want to start doing this for a few weeks prior to actually shopping this way. At Hot Coupon World there is a subheading for “Coupon Discussioin by source” where you can get a preview of the upcoming inserts in your paper. If you see a bunch of coupons of things that you frequently use, it might be worth purchasing a few extra papers. Or, ask you friends and family and neighbors to pass along their inserts instead of throwing them away.

(Hey… to my family and friends…. I’m still looking for extra inserts myself!!!)

Then- organize your coupons to make them easier to find. (Look for my upcoming post on how to do this!!)

Next-when a good sale at the grocery store OR pharmacy store like Walgreens or CVS happens on the same item that you have a coupon for… STOCK UP!! For instance, my family loves Pop-Tarts. My kids absolutely devore them! So, when a recent Sunday insert had coupons for $1 off of 2 boxes AND my local Publix ad showed Pop-Tarts to be Buy One Get One Free… I stocked up! There was also a rebate form from Kellogs that very same week to get $10 back when you buy 10 boxes. So… I ended up with 16 boxes of Poptarts completely free after that rebate!!!

Now, at the Grocery Game, they provide you with a color coded list of when items are at their rock bottom combined sale/coupon price and suggest that you only buy it then. However, if you need an item… try to at least get it on sale and use a coupon.

As the weeks go by, you will begin to build up a “stockpile” of frequently used foods and toiletry and household items. I noticed that the first month of doing this, I spent slightly less money than normal… but had tripled the amount of stuff I brought home. Now, I am at a point where I really only need to buy my “need” items like milk, eggs, bread and meat. (I don’t own a big freezer or else I would also be able to stock up on some of those items as well when they hit really low prices) And my budget for food and household items is half of what it used to be!

I keep my stockpile separate from my regular foods… otherwise my teenage son would eat it all in a week! 🙂

It’s easier for me to plan ahead prior to shopping for the most part. I search around at the forums and blogs online to see what deals others have found, and match up the preview ad’s of my local stores with the coupons in my binder and make a list. I still bring my whole binder with me to the grocery store though, just in case I find an unadvertised deal on something I have a coupon for! Planning in advance also helps the checkout line go smoother. Cashiers usually appreciate it when you have all your coupons organized and handed over to them neatly. 🙂

I also find that sometimes I just can’t pass up offers that make my items FREE even when I already have enough! I can start donating some of these items to shelters and others places without any worry about providing for my own family!

Other rules that you may not be aware of:

Most stores allow you to use a Buy One Get One Free coupon combined with their own Buy One Get One Free Sale which means BOTH items are FREE!!!

Most stores also allow you to use multiple coupons when they have a BOGO sale… like if ketchup is on sale BOGO at Publix… and I have 2 different coupons for $1 off.. I can use one on the one I paid for and another on the one that was Free!!

Some stores also allow you to “stack” a store coupon with a manufacturer coupon. Other stores allow you to use competitors coupons. Some stores even double coupons up to a certain amount! (I’m in Florida though, and haven’t found any that do this yet.) Be sure to check with your local stores to find out what their coupon policies are BEFORE shopping! It’s also helpful for you to know as a consumer that you are not “robbing” the store of anything by using coupons. The store gets reimbursed the exact amount of the coupon PLUS an additional 8 cents for each coupon!!! Your store actually MAKES a profit when we use coupons! Many cashiers do not realize this… so if you find a grumpy cashier… smile and let them know!

You should also be on the lookout for items on clearance racks… often times you will find coupons to combine with these super low prices making the item free or nearly free.

Be aware that some stores offer special store “bucks” back when you purchase certain things. These can come in very handy when combining deals. CVS and Walgreens and Target do this most often.

Well, that’s the basics for now…. I’ll add to this post as I think of more things.

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