Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Couponing Step #1-Get Some!

The basic idea with couponing is that you get coupons on a regular basis, then match them up with weekly sales prices wherever you shop to get things for the lowest price possible. So first we need to get a good supply of coupons to draw from, because as you will soon find out-the sales going on this week usually match up with coupons from several weeks ago. Here are the best ways to get your hands on coupons:

1. Get a subscription from your local newspaper-Sunday only, or whichever day coupons come out in your area. Look around online for the best deal. For some reason, we have an expensive Sunday paper--it just went up to $3.00, and I have never found a lower subscription price online. But when it came time for renewal, they offered it to me for half price so I'm now paying $1.50. It might seem strange to pay for something that is supposed to be saving you money, but think of it as an investment. That $1.50 or $3.00 could easily save you $50+ in groceries. I always check online the day before to see how many inserts there will be this week, if it's 3 or more I buy a second paper on Sunday.

2. Buy coupons on eBay. This one is so easy and inexpensive. You technically cannot purchase coupons, so when you bid on them on eBay you are really bidding on the seller's time to cut them out and mail them to you. You shouldn't pay more than $1.00-$1.25 per 100 coupons (including shipping). What I have done in the past is bid on 10-15 groups of coupons and put my max bid in at $1.00. Then I check back the next day and have found that I won 1-3 (sometimes more) of them. Within a couple of days, I have them in my mailbox already cut out and ready to use! The downside to this method is that you have no idea which coupons you will be getting, and they could expire relatively soon. But after my daughter was born and we were in the process of moving, it was a huge time saver and still saved me quite a bit of money!

3. All You Magazine is full of coupons, anywhere from $50-$150 worth each month. You can buy it in Walmart (as far as I know it's the only store that sells it), for around $2.50, but you can get a subscription for much less than that. I signed up for 3 years and it came out to $0.67/issue. It's also full of recipes and money-saving advice. If you use southernsavers (a site I will talk about in a future post), Jenny matches up her coupons in All You with the sales, so you don't need to clip them or keep track of what's in there.

4. Get on your grocery store's website. Most grocery stores have printable store coupons (which are the best because you can combine them with a manufacturer's coupon and a sale and most likely get the product for free). Kroger also has coupons you can load to your Kroger card and function as store coupons--they will automatically come off your total when you scan your card and purchase the item you preselected. And if you choose not to buy something you preselected it doesn't hurt you at all. Also, our grocery stores (namely Publix and Kroger) both have a sign-up for receiving coupons in your mailbox. If you are pregnant or have a baby you can sign them up for Publix's Baby Club, not only will they send you coupons for diapers, formula, baby food, etc. but they will also send you coupons for their produce, deli, and frozen foods. Make sure you save the coupons that Kroger prints out with your receipt, they are usually fantastic! I regularly get $4 off your next shopping trip (anything) and then I use it at Publix because they accept competitor coupons.

5. Online printable coupons: http://www.coupons.com/ No sign-up necessary, limit of 2 prints per coupon, and the fastest site I have found.

6. Call or email the company. If you have a brand you really love but never see coupons for, contact the company and tell them how much you enjoy their products and you would like to know if they ever issue coupons. Many companies are too small to issue national coupons, but are happy to mail them out to customers.

7. Ask around. Mention to others that you are learning how to save money by using coupons and if they know of anyone who regularly throws out or recycles their coupons you would be happy to take them.

Right now your task is just to start accumulating coupons--we'll talk about organization later, just start putting them all in the same area. If you want to get ahead of the game, keep your Sunday inserts together and write the date on the top one. That will make it easier for you to look up coupons in the future. Happy coupon hunting!

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