Last week I posted about my coupon experience several years ago and now I’m going to share what I’ve learned that will (hopefully) make me more successful this go round.
I invited my sister-in-law over a while back and she taught me how to coupon in an easy, stress-free way, that doesn’t require my sitting for two hours cutting coupons (is that really possible?—Yes ma'am, read on)
Here is what I learned from her:
1. GET YOUR COUPONS
- Get your hands on some newspapers. I found out that my local paper now offers a Sunday only subscription. I got it at a discounted rate of $1 per week for 26 weeks because I’m a new subscriber. I also told 3-4 people to save me their coupons. I usually end up with 2-3 copies of the Sunday coupons
- Sign up for SWAGBUCKS or some other points based program. SWAGBUCKS pays you for browsing the internet. If you’re interested in SWAGBUCKS, use my link on the right sidebar (close to the bottom). You earn points for referrals and I’d love to have you sign up under me.
- Subscribe to All You magazine. I had enough SWAGBUCK points earned for Amazon cards so I got a years subscription for free. I haven’t received my first copy, it should be here sometime this month, but I’m told there are lots of great coupons inside.
- There are several other ways to acquire your coupons. There are catalina’s that are printed out at the register, dispensers in the store, on the product itself, you can contact manufactures (just received $70 worth of coupons from Proctor & Gamble yesterday, all because I went to their site and asked), and there are loads of them online at coupons.com, RedPlum.com, and SmartSource.com
2. JOIN WEBSITES
You will want to go online and create accounts at the stores you’ll shop. You can get promo deals, extra coupons, view their ad’s and even make your shopping list at some of them. Make sure you have store cards (example MVP for Food Lion) if they offer them. And be sure to check their coupon policy while there.
There are other sites you can join to earn rewards and points you just have to watch for them and/or ask others what they use. Another good way to earn high dollar coupons is by “Liking” Facebook pages. Example, Nabisco does a cookie and milk coupon the first day of each month.
3. MATCH UP
To get the best deal you will want to have the product on sale AND use at least one coupon. Some stores will double coupons and/or allow you to use a manufacturer and store coupon together (a.k.a. stacking). It can be very confusing when you first start couponing, knowing what is really a good deal and what isn’t, remembering what coupons you have and when to use them, etc. The best option is to find a website that does the work for you.
My sister in law told me about Southern Savers and since then it seems everyone I meet already knows about this site. It is an amazing place to find the deals. She has a list for every store you can think of in the south (except for some of the really small ones) and a day or two before the ad comes out she gives you a list of good sale items and tells you which coupons can be used. She does all the work for you.
Here is why you don’t have to clip coupons! She recommends writing the date on your coupon flyer and filing it in an accordion file folder. When you visit her site, she’ll tell you where to find the coupon by giving you the date of the flyer and the name of the flyer (SS=SmartSource, RP=RedPlum, and P&G=Proctor & Gamble).
Even if you don’t live in the south you can glean lots of information from her site. She has video’s and detailed instructions about everything I’ve mentioned here and more.
If you don’t live in the south you can use another site, such as Couponmom.com (this is a great one, she even tells you the % of your saving), RainingHotCoupons.com, DealSeekingMom.com, or TheKrazyCouponLady.com. I really only have experience with SouthernSavers so I would recommend her first.
I’ve been trying these tips for several weeks now and I’m not seeing a change in my budget. After asking some of the veteran couponers in my life what they do, I think I’ve found the problem. I’m trying too hard. I know that doesn’t make sense but what I’ve realized is, I’m shopping too often and buying too much.
Here are some tips they offered:
- Shop for sales only and if the sale is really good (50% off or more) grab it. If you have coupon fine, if not, that’s okay too
- Shop Aldi’s if what you need isn’t on sale anywhere. They are much cheaper than paying full price at the other stores. Aldi’s is even way cheaper than Wal-Mart
- To get the best price on meats, find out when your store reduces theirs and be there to grab it
- Use drug stores (CVS, Walgreen, Rite Aid, etc.) for all your health/beauty and household products. You can get a lot of it free
I think if I decide to make 40-50% savings my goal, I will do well. That will cut out a lot of these extra trips into town that I’m making. I know I won’t be able to do that with every item, like meats, but I should be able to get close to that with the other food items. If I lived closer to the stores I would go weekly but since I’m further away and the gas is so high, I think this will work better for my situation. It will also require a lot of will power. I’m having a hard time letting a deal pass me by…but I’m finding out not all deals are created equal!
Hope you save big and have fun doing it!