Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Coupon use basics

I've had several ask me questions on the basics of using coupons. Couponing is a great way to save money & very often get things for free.

Lets start with the different types of coupons.
Manufacturer coupons
Store coupons - these can only be used in that store.
Internet coupons are printable & generally you can print 2 of these. To print 2, log into the site a 2nd time to print, or simply hit your back button 2-3 times.
Peelies - these are the coupons that are found on the products that you have to "peel" off. These are manufacturer coupons.
Blinkies - these are those coupons found in the aisle in that box sticking off of the shelf, it is usually red & usually "blinking".
Tear pads - these are also found on store shelves. The ones that you tear off a coupon.

Where to get coupons
You can get coupons out of your Sunday paper each week from Smart Source & Red Plum. Procter & Gamble also puts out an insert in the Sun. paper once a month. I always buy 2 Sunday papers each week (as the savings has always been worth it). Many of your friends & neighbors get the Sunday paper, but never use the coupons, ask them to save them for you.

The internet. There is tons of printable coupons online. A few places to start -
Smart Source
Cool Savings
Boxtops 4 Education

Mailings - This is especially true if you have little ones. Diaper & formula companies send out coupons on a regular basis, be sure to sign up at their site to receive them.

A little coupon lingo
BOGO - Buy one get one free
B1G1F- Buy one get one free
Double Coupons - stores that offer this, will double the coupon. For example, if your coupon is .50 cents off, they will take $1 off. Generally, there is a limit as to how much they will double.
Triple coupons - same as double, except they triple!
Stack - when you 'stack' a coupon, you are using more than one coupon on one item. This is where you are using a manufacturer & store coupon. Example - You find a Target coupon for $ off Cottonelle, You also have a manufacturer coupon for .50 off Cottonelle. You can 'stack' the 2 coupons to receive $1.50 off the Cottonelle.
MIR - Mail in Rebate
ECB - Extra Care Bucks, from CVS
RR - Register Rewards, from Walgreens

The Basics
  • Most stores take coupons, not just grocery stores. You can use coupons at Walmart, Target, CVS, Walgreens, Dollar General, just to name a few. If you aren't sure, ask.
  • You can combine Manufacturer coupons with store coupons.
  • Coupons are generally one per item. So, if you buy 2 bottles of shampoo, you can use a coupon on each. However, if you have a store coupon, you can combine that with a manufacturer coupon on 1 item.
  • Some coupons do not specify a size. If size is not specified, you can use this on a trial size, usually getting it for free.

How to make couponing work for you

  • Use coupons when the item goes on sale.
  • Stockpile - This saves you from having to purchase that item without a coupon & when it is not on sale. If you can get 3-4 of an item for free by using sales & coupons, why not stockpile, rather than having to pay full price for it later?
  • Don't be brand specific. It is amazing how much you can get free, when you are open to trying different brands.
  • Save all coupons. I used to only clip coupons I knew I would use. I quikly found out I was missing out on a lot of deals by not saving them all.
  • Once a month go through your coupons to check expiration dates.
  • Organize your coupons, you can use envelopes, an organizer, or a binder with baseball card holders. Whatever works for you.
  • If a store is out of something that is on sale, ask for a raincheck. A raincheck allows you to purchase the item at the sale price, when the item is back in stock. This also allows you to save up more coupons for that item!
  • Don't always go for the largest size of a product. Using a coupon on a large size may save you money, but using a coupon on the smaller size might enable you to get it free!

Remember to start our small. It becomes second nature to use coupons, once you've been doing it for a while. If you have any other tips or questions, feel free to post in the comments, or email me directly!

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