Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Tips for Beginner Couponers

As I get older, I realize I enjoy been a frugal person. Finding ways to save money is a hobby of mine. I like saving money in certain areas of life because I know that I would rather spend that money saved on nice vacations and on fun things for the family to do.

I was recently introduced to using coupons. My life has changed. :)

I used to think that those things called "coupons" were a joke. I used to think that I could never find the coupons on things that I wanted, and thought that buying store brand was always cheaper than buying name brand items even with a coupon. I used to think that only crazy people used coupons. I guess I am the crazy one now! I used to think this because I didn't know how to use the coupons. I didn't shop for things when they were on sale and pair coupons with that sale. I didn't know what "coupon stacking" was (using a store coupon with a manufacturers coupon, and even better, using them with a sale!) I didn't save my coupons until I needed them. I now see those little pieces of paper as money. Free money--and I clip them and hold on to them, for dear life, because I know that next week, I may be able to get that item for free--all because I saved that little piece of paper.

Keep in mind that you will be buying groceries for the rest of your life. Do you use toilet paper? Do you use toothpaste? Do you eat food? Chances are, there is a coupon out there that you can use to get what you want for even less than dollar store prices. Why not learn now how to become a pro at using coupons so that you can use this valuable information for the rest of your life?

Using coupons seems like a lot of hard work, right? It's really not. You first need to know where to get your coupons. Below are my favorite places to get my coupons.

1.) Sunday Newspaper (look through it before buying to see if they have either the RedPlum or the P&G Coupon Inserts.) SAVE your inserts. Most people look through them and toss them once they realize they don't need a coupon that week. The coupons don't expire for a while so keep them for certain deal scenarios where you can get the item for next to nothing or for when the item goes on sale.

2.) All You Magazine from Wal-mart (This magazine is PACKED with good coupons, which outweigh the cost of the magazine itself, and its just a good magazine!)

3.) Save on Groceries at! Click Here
*You can usually print two of each coupon. Sometimes you can print more. It will tell you when a certain coupon has reached the print limit. If you have two computers at your house, you can print two from each computer.
*I suggest using refill ink if you are going to print a lot of coupons. Refill ink is very inexpensive.


5.) Red Plum - Free printable grocery coupons. Click Here

6.) Favorite Product Webpages
*Example: is a favorite of mine and they post coupons on their site.

7.) Blogs specifially designed for coupon clippers. If you take a look to the right on my blog, I have a blog list. I have specifically put these here because they update when someone posts a good deal or coupon on their site. When I see a deal or coupon I am interested in, I click on the link and it takes me to their blog where I can then print or take advantage of the offer. For example, I currently see a coupon listed for $1.00 off Eggo Waffles on one of the blogs listed. I know that I buy the whole wheat waffles each time I go to the store, so this is one I will for sure print. You can also link most of these sites to your facebook account and it updates in your FB account as well.

8.) Smart Source electronic coupon machines inside of stores. You remember these from when you were a little kid right, where you would pull all of them out because it was fun? Well get to pulling because it is still fun.

9.) Sign up for free samples. They usually send you free coupons with the sample. Free Brand Name Health Samples Click Here

10.) Look in store circulars, especially Walgreens. They have store coupons in their circulars. Remember you can pair store coupons with manufacturers coupons (coupon stacking.)

11.) Ask your family and friends to save coupons for you when they come across any.

Next, you need to know how to organize your coupons. For the beginners, I recommend a small accordian file that fits in your purse. I started out with one of these. I liked it because it did fit in my purse and was easy to carry around everywhere I went. However, the one drawback to these is that you find yourself searching and flipping through coupons at the store because they are in a big clump by categories. If you have 50 coupons in your frozen food section, you find yourself wasting time trying to find the coupon you know you have in that stack! If you are shopping with a toddler and you try searching through coupons, they get a little frustrated!
You can see that I organized it like this: Personal Care/Medicine, Cleaning/Household Supplies/Pets, Meat/Dairy, Sauces/Dressings/Condiments, Canned Goods/Soups, Pasta/Rice/Seasonings/Crackers, Beverages, Flour/Baking/Oil, Cereal/Breakfast Foods, Frozen Food/Bread, Paper Goods/Baby/Containers, Desserts/Snacks. The front section was reserved for store coupons.

If the accordian style does not work for you, you can organize your coupons in a much better way by using a binder. I am currently using a binder because that is the only way I feel I can see every coupon I have-and it is more organized. You don't find that you are wasting time searching through your coupons with a binder. You flip right to the section, have a picture of what you are looking for, making it easier. However, the binder is bigger, cannot fit in your purse, and you do have to take it everywhere you go to get your maximum savings. You also have to be one that doesn't care that people see you carrying a coupon binder around the store! You just have to ask yourself, "What is funny or embarrasing about saving money?!?" You should be questioning those that give you looks why they don't use coupons! To create your coupons binder, all you need is a binder that zips, dividers, and plastic baseball card sheets. You can always buy more of the dividers and baseball card sheets if you need them. It took me two hours to organize my binder. Now that it is organized, it is very easy to discard the expired coupons and add new coupons. In the outside pockets of the binder, I keep a pen, pair of scissors, and a calculator. In the inside pockets, I keep my store circulars, large coupons, and rebate forms. I keep a price book in the front of all sections so I can compare prices on certain items.

*The first section of my binder is specifically for FREE coupons.

*The second section are for store coupons, including department store coupons and restaurant coupons.

*The third section is my food section divided up into these categories: Meat/Dairy/Milk, Cereal/Granola Bars/Bread/Cold Breakfast, Frozen Food, Snacks/Chips/Candy, Condiments/Sauces/Dressings, Pasta/Rice/Seasonings/Crackers/Baking, Canned Goods/Fruit Cups, Beverages.

*The fourth section is my Health and Beauty section divided into these categories. Toothpaste/Toothbrushes/Oral Care, Shampoo/Conditioner/Hair Color, Deodorant, Shaving Cream/Razors, Feminine Products, Body Wash/Soap, Make-up/Eye Care/Moisturizers/Face Wash, Sunscreen/Vitamins/Medicine.

*The fifth section is for household items and is divided into these categories: Diapers/Baby Wipes, Pets, Toilet Paper/Paper Towels/Paper Products, Laundry Care, Dish Cleaners, Multipurpose Cleaners, and Air Fresheners.

*I recommend taking a sharpie and labeling each page of coupons. For example, if you have a large Meat/Dairy/Milk file, write meat on a page and keep all of your meat coupons together, write dairy on a page and keep yogurt/butter coupons together, and milk on one page, keeping all milk coupons together.

*Remember: Do not throw your coupons away just because you do not need them that week! The key is to save them until you need the item and it is on sale. You can then pair the coupons with a sale, getting it for a very low price, or even free.

Now that you have organized your coupons, it is time to put those coupons to use. I cannot wait to start showing you some good deals I have received and what I have received for free since I have started using coupons.

Check this site when you have some free time.

Take a look at some super couponing videos on Youtube to get more ideas on couponing.