Monday, July 16, 2012

Couponing 101

I started couponing about a year ago and have saved hundreds of dollars!  I'll go through some of my basics of how to start and some awesome websites that helped me get started.  

How to start:

1) Either buy a newspaper on Sunday or get it delivered weekly.  You may need to start buying multiple papers if you want to stockpile as some of the coupling shows demonstrate.   Groupon and other discount sites often have local newspaper subscriptions much cheaper.

2) Find a method of coupon storage.

I started out with a binder.  I used baseball card holders (found locally at Meijer) to put coupons in.  

Pro: allows you to easily see all coupons
Con: really awkward and time consuming to organize

I have since switched to a index card holder.  It is more easily stored in my car and I feel less awkward/burdened carrying it around the store.   It can be hard to balance the binder, find the coupon and hold on to them even with a shopping cart.
(excuse the internet photo, mine is MIA at the moment)

Pro: small and easily portable
Con: harder to see coupons, requires more prior planning

3) Consult websites that give previews to prices and sales.

The BEST site I like for this is the Krazy Coupon Lady site.  Her site is great.  You can browse by store or look for freebies, she tells you which coupons to use and tells you if it is at a rock bottom price.  I highly recommend this site for any level of couponer.

This site Hot Coupon World is also very helpful but it is more of a discussion forum format.  For the occasional couponer and someone that doesn't like to do a lot of research it may not be as helpful.  But it does have forums where you can discuss great deals, trade coupons and does have some articles on beginning to coupon.

4)  Not all coupons are for grocery stores.

I LOVE to shop but I rarely buy items without some type of coupon or promotion any more.  Especially if you like to shop online.  A quick google search for 'Ann Taylor Loft coupon' or 'Vera Bradley coupon' will often come up with free shipping codes and percentages off.  Do note that often you will find expired or invalid codes, it does take an extra 10-20 minutes to sort through them but it is worth it!  (I bought 2 pairs of shorts and two tank tops for less than $30 and FREE SHIPPING from Ann Taylor Loft last month).

If you find yourself shopping and you don't have a coupon (like my recent Joann's trip) often a search in your smartphone will turn up a code you can use at the register.  Or ask the clerk, the worst they can say is no.

5) Print a copy of the stores coupon policy.

I most often shop at Target, Kroger and Hiller's here in good old Michigan.  If for some reason (especially at Target!) you should run into a salesperson that does not know the policy you can use it to make sure you can use your coupons.  It helps to be familiar with it yourself. :)

Take some time and set up your system.  I will do a follow up post about how to stockpile and match sales soon!


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