I was just reflecting on a shopping trip I had recently at Giant Eagle where a total stranger saw me and my coupon binder and asked if I used coupons. “Big time” was my reply. She said she had just attended a workshop on coupons held at Malone College. We talked briefly, she’s a realtor and I, a blogger. We shared our website info. I told her “baby steps” when it comes to learning how to get great deals using coupons.
There was a time when I didn’t think coupons were worth the effort. I mean, c’mon… 35 cents off? Like thats going to really help. But then I learned a thing or two. I hope to break down this kind of savings into baby steps. Start small and build on your experience and knowledge from there!
1. Save the coupon inserts from your Sunday papers.
2. Buy extra Sunday papers on Monday if you can get them half off like I can and buy them at Giant Eagle so you can get the Fuel Perks discount towards gas. Get the inserts from family/friends who don’t use them.
3. Sign up for free email/rss updates with a few coupon matching websites, preferably ones in your area.
4. You can cut out all your coupons or just leave the insert intact until you know what coupon you need. If you organize your inserts (the coupon pages from the paper) and follow the bloggers who do the match-ups, they will tell you what coupon and what insert to find it in so you can match the right coupon with the items on sale. Write “today’s” date on the insert.
5. I do a couple things. I use a coupon binder/organizer to hold coupons I cut out and I keep my inserts intact. Sometimes you will want to have them cut and organized in a binder so you have them conveniently stored in an easy way to grab and go at moments notice – you know, “just in case” you find something you weren’t expecting. I also use a simple 3 drawer plastic organizer to hold my inserts.
6. If you cut them, staple the “like” coupons together.
7. As I’m shopping I pull out the coupon that matches the item I just picked up off the shelf and I lay that coupon in the cart somewhere safe. I do this as I shop so I’m prepared at checkout.
8. As you get familiar with couponing get familiar with the following terms…SmartSource, RedPlum and the P&G coupon inserts, learn about the Catalina coupons that pop out at checkout, watch for rebates at drugstores.
9. Drugstores: Don’t forget about Rite Aid, Walgreens, and CVS too. Stack manufacturer coupons on top of store coupons when those items are on sale. Or stack coupons, on sales, on items offering rebates!
10. Sign up for coupons at the websites of your favorite brands and/or call or email a request for coupons to be mailed to you. I get coupons in the mail AND I print them off from company websites as well as some coupon sites (i.e. Coupons.com).
Some of the brands I get coupons from are Betty Crocker, P&G’s Home Made Simple booklet, Stayfree, Angel Soft (may be able to request these once a month), Pampers, Huggies, Kraft foods, and Conagra Foods. Also be sure to check out Coupons.com to print coupons. Hint: Hit the back button to get a 2nd coupon! Coupons.com uses “bricks” coupons and usually we are limited to printing out 2.
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*I’m also linking this post to RaisingHomemakers. Go there if you want to see lots of other blogger’s tips on “homemaking”.