Couponing – The Basics
Couponing For Beginners
You’ve read about people saving 75% on their grocery bills by using coupons, and you know that if they can do it, so can you. If you’re reading blogs like SwagGrabber, then you’re on the right track. It can be very confusing when you first start using coupons. Hopefully this will help you out!
Make a Plan
Most important thing is to start small – don’t make a huge list of deals and head to the store, you are most likely get extremely confused and frustrated. Try a few things one week and then add a few more and add a few more. I did not get to this point over night; it took about 4 months to really start seeing a difference. Start trying to shave $10 off your bill and then $15 and just keep going!
Start by reading the weekly store ads to see what is on sale and which stores have the best prices on the items you need. SwagGrabber posts great deals from several different stores each week that combine coupons and sales, to get you items for free, or at very reduced prices. If she doesn’t list a store in your area, or one that you prefer to shop at, a good resource is The Grocery Gathering. They have bloggers from all over the country that submit weekly specials and coupon match-ups from their local stores. The lists of store deals will show you how to stack your coupons and sales. That means that the optimal time to purchase an item is when your store has it on sale, and you have a coupon for it. Sometimes you can even find a manufacturer’s coupon and a store coupon for the same item. And, YES, at most stores, you can use both the coupons on one item. Check with your local stores about their coupon policies. saving money at the grocery store involves lots of coupons. I get them from several sources, so start focusing on building a good stockpile. You don’t have to go as extreme as I have, but simply matching up some coupons will save you money so just do what you feel comfortable with. Even saving 20-30% off your grocery bill will be a great savings!
What is a coupon?
A coupon comes from either the manufacturer of the product or the store you are purchasing from. This is an incentive for you to buy their product. You can tell a manufacturer coupon usually by the number below the barcode, it will begin with a “5″ or a “9″. A store coupon will have the store name on it and will not begin with 5 or 9.
Where to get coupons?
Newspapers – Red Plum (RP), Smart Source (SS), or Procter and Gamble (P&G).
Magazines – All You is always a great source for coupons. There are others scattered among parenting magazines and others as well.
In-Store Coupons - The blinkie machines and Tearpads in the stores have lots of coupons. Also store flyers are usually at the front of the store but can be found all over.
Clipfree E-Coupons – such as upromise, PGesaver, shortcuts, cellfire, Target cell coupons, ect.
Online Internet Coupons – Swaggrabber.com, coupons.com, and several other sites have printable coupons. Just type in printable coupons in your search engine and you should find tons of sites to print off of. There are also all the Facebook, sweepstakes, and instant win coupons available that are posted.
Contact Manufacturer - Swaggrabber has a list of manufacturers you can contact and they will often send coupons or even free product coupons.
Online Auctions – Ebay is another way to get coupons.
Coupon Clipping Services-Coupons and things by Dede, Coupon Hunters, Hot coupon world, are just to name a few websites that you can buy coupons from.
I found the couponing language to be the most confusing aspect of couponing when I first started. Here is a list of abbreviations that I hope will help you.
AC – After Coupon
AR – After Rebate
BOGO or B1G1 – Buy One Get One FREE!
CAT or CATALINA – coupon dispensed at register after purchase
ECB – Extra Care Bucks – CVS “money” printed on receipts to be used like cash in store on your next purchase
IP or PRINTABLE- Internet Printable Coupon
MFG – Manufacturer’s Coupon
MIR – Mail-In Rebate
OOP – Out of Pocket – actual cash paid
OYNO – on your next order – when you buy advertised item, you get $ off or something free, on your next purchase
P&G – Proctor and Gamble insert in Sunday’s paper
Q – Coupon
RC – Rain Check
RP – Red Plum insert in Sunday’s paper
RR – Register Reward – Walgreen’s “money” printed on receipts to be used like cash in store on your next purchase
SS – Smart Source insert in Sunday’s paper
SCR – Single Check Rebate – Rite Aid’s rebate program
WYB – When You Buy
2/$5 – This means 2 items for $5, can be any combination
$1/2 – This means $1 off of 2 items, can be any combination
Organization is a very important part of couponing. You need to find a way to organize your coupons that works for you. I found the best way to organize coupons is either in a file or a binder. That way you can sort them by category: frozen, canned goods, paper goods, etc. There are a few methods you can use, some clip all of the coupons and put them in binders while others save the inserts whole and mark the date on them. Then you go back and clip the coupons you need. I prefer the second method as it requires a whole lot less clipping. More on coupon organization here.
Sale Cycles and Rock Bottom Prices
Rock-bottom prices. Don’t go out and use your coupon immediately! If you use that 25¢ off toilet paper right away when it’s not on sale you aren’t reaching your saving potential! Wait until toilet paper goes on sale for $1 then use the coupon. If your store triples coupons then you could get the toilet paper for only 25¢! Matching sales with coupons is getting a great price. Combining sales plus coupons plus another promotion (rebates, double coupons, store coupons) is getting the best price!
Make a Pricebook. Start paying attention to prices and keep a list of items you regularly buy with the best and regular prices for those items. This will help you when you see that canned veggies are on “sale” for 10/$10 but the regular price is actually 99¢!
The key to couponing is to stock up when you can get items for the cheapest price possible. That way when you never run out of something and have to pay full price. Much better to pay $1.00 today than $4 in a month or two. So when you find a really great price on something your family uses a lot don’t buy one, buy enough to last you until they will be on sale again – normally 3-6 months.
Now that you understand the basics….learn to use the SwagGrabber Matchups!