Wednesday, August 26, 2009

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Couponing How To's

I started using coupons at the start of this year due to financial issues my family was going through. I had tried before but never really saw the point in going through the trouble of clipping them to only save .25 or .50 cents here and there. It just didn't make a big enough difference.

Well, this time was very different. It really all started by accident. I stumbled upon a couple of websites that talked about coupons and realized that if you did it right you could save a lot of money and get a lot of things for free! I was still skeptical but jumped right in and it turned out to be one of the best things I have ever done.

Since I started utilizing coupons in February this year (2009), I have saved over $5000.00! I know, that sounds impossible but its true. Now, you have to know, I wouldn't have normally spent enough money over this period of time to save that much but this includes all the items I wouldn't normally have purchased if I didn't get them free!

So how do i do it? Well I'm going to fill you all in! If you follow the tips below you can all do it too. You don't need to be rich or have money to do it with either because I sure didn't. We were so broke when I started we could barely afford basics like milk and bread. I promise it can be done by anyone.

Ok, first things first:

1) Clip, print, and save all the coupons you can.
a) Get the paper every Sunday! If you can manage to get more than one the do it. I usually get the double paper since it cost less than buying them separately. You can check each week ahead of time to see what coupons will be included in that coming Sundays paper for free HERE. This way you will know how many papers you want depending on if there are some really useful coupons for you.
b) Print Coupons from online sites. You can find lots of coupons on my site as well as links to sites that update regularly like, CoolSavings , Smartsource, and Redplum. You can also find a lot of coupons from all types of places at A Full Cup. This is a great site to learn more about couponing and to find almost every coupon out there. You will have to register but its completely free and they dont send spam to your email.
c) Save e-coupons! Sites like CellFire, Proctor & Gamble, and Shortcuts have great coupons that you dont print. You simply register for free and add all of your grocery store rewards cards that are partnered with them. The only one in my area (GA) is Kroger but other areas have quite a few more. Then you simply look through the ever changing list of coupons they have and click add and they are automatically added to you rewards card (in my case its my Kroger plus card). The when you purchase that item at any Kroger store (for example), the amount of the coupon is automatically deducted! These are also deducted on top of any printed coupon you may have for that item so you get double the savings. (I'll get more into stacking coupons further down the list)
d) Don't forget the peelies you find stuck to the item itself , the tear off coupons in the store , and the ones in the machines on the shelves in the store.

2)Ok, so now you have all your coupons, what do you do with them? Well the first thing is:
a) Check all your local sales each week. I post all the local sales for my area on this blog. You can see examples HERE. Now in these posts I have made it easy for you by showing that weeks sales and which coupons you can use for each item. However if I don't have your store you can go directly to your stores website and look at their weekly sales ad or look at the printed sales ad in your Sunday paper and match them up yourself.

3) Stacking is where the real money gets saved!
a) Ok, the best way to do this is to show you and example first then explain:
Im going to use Publix as my example because its one of the best for getting really great deals and free stuff in my area because they take competitors coupons as well double coupons up to .50 cents.

Can of Soup $1.50
use manufacturers coupon for .50cents doubled = $1.00 off
use competitors or store coupon .50 cents off= .50 off
Can of soup after both coupons= FREE

Here's an even better deal:

Laundry Detergent $6.00 On sale Buy one get One free
use 2 manufacturers coupons $2.00 off = $4.00 off
use 2 store or competitors coupons $1.00 off = $2.00 off
Laundry Detergent after all 4 coupons = FREE

No the things you need to know to understand how all this works are:
1) Check with your store to see what their coupon policy is.
a) Do they double or triple coupons? If so, up to how much?
b) Do they take competitors coupons? if so, which stores do they consider competitors?
c) Do they have a limit on how many coupons you can use in one transaction?
d) Do they take printed coupons?

2) Store coupons are generally not doubled. Competitors coupons are usually processed as store coupons so they aren't doubled either and you can only use one or the other on each item.
a) If they take competitors coupons then they can really help out. Check all the stores they accept as competitors for coupons. For example: My Publix considers Target as a competitor and Target has regular updates on their online list of store coupons you can print HERE.
b) Also keep an eye out for your stores coupon booklets on display in the store and sign up for their rewards program or weekly ad and they tend to send out coupons by mail.

3)Buy One Get One (BOGO) sales are the best way to get free high dollar items.
a) You can use 1 manufacturers coupon for each item and 1 store coupon for each item. So if your item is on BOGO then you can use up to 4 coupons for the 2 items.
b) clip or print all coupons for any items you would use even if you dont think the coupon would lower the price enough to afford it. If the item goes on BOGO sale and you have 2 coupons then if the item is $5.00 and your 2 coupons are for $1.50 off each then you get 2 items for $2.00 or $1.00 each!

4) Stacking Coupons:
a) Most stores except manufacturers coupons as well as their store coupons on the same item.
b) If they except competitors coupons then they consider them store coupons.
c) If your store has a rewards card that partners with Cellfire, Shortcuts, or Proctor and gamble e-coupons then they will automatically come off also! In this case you could use 3 coupons per item.

So, If you do all of these things you can not only save money on the items you buy regularly but you can also get items you couldnt normally afford to buy, as well as lots of free items to start your stockpile!

Stockpile?! Whats that? This is what you will begin to have pile up after all of your trips for free or almost free items. I started out with bare cabinets and now have 3 full closets and a full pantry of my stockpile. Just to give you an idea here are a few of the things we have stockpiled:

12 bottles Garnier shampoo and conditoners
16 bottles of Frenches mustard
12 bottles Kraft Barbecue sauce
6 Schick intuition razors
8 Quatro 3 packs razors
2 Quatro electric trim razors
12 bottles Purex detergent
10 boxes Ziploc quart and gallon bags
20+ assorted air fresheners
10 bottles Lysol sprays
etc. etc. etc.........

I couldnt even begin to list all the food and toiletry and cleaning items Ive stocked up on since February and have paid nothing or almost nothing for.

I really hope I have covered everything but Im sure I have forgotten something so I will add to this post when I think of things. If you have any questions feel free to leave a comment and ask and I will answer it as soon as possible. I hope this helps and wasnt too confusing! Happy Saving!
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