Couponing 101

>> Tuesday, August 19, 2008

There are several steps to making the most of your coupons. Let's start with the newspaper coupon inserts. There are several different inserts, P&G, Red plum, and Smart Source. Each week (except on holidays no coupons) you should get some coupons in your local newspaper. Some weeks there are a generous amount and sometimes just one source.

Depending on how many coupons you want to start with you might consider buying two newspapers so you have double the coupons for the week. Other ways to get manufacture coupons is to have family or friends save theirs for you or print online coupons (we will talk Internet coupons later). Some couponers really get into gathering as many manufacturer coupons as they can. I even read a blog where they dumpster dived in the recycling dumpsters. I am not that into getting coupons but some say it is pretty fun to toss your kids in there and reap the rewards.

Cut out the coupons you know you will use. If you want to experiment with items you haven't tried or might be willing to try then cut those out too. Do not buy items you will not use just for the sake of the coupon, it won't save you money in the long run. Save the other coupons and expired coupons, I will explain what you can do with those in another blog.

You can start out by separating coupons into categories. The method is personal because each person/household sees categories differently. You can use envelopes to start with or go to the dollar store or dollar section in a store and get one of those small coupon sorter/holders. I used two of these to start couponing because I like my coupons sorted in more detail. Now label and sort your coupons according to your preferences. Examples: frozen food, box food, hair care, dairy...etc. I split my labels into more detail an example is hair care. I have one for shampoo, conditioner and styling products while I have another for hair colors. I also split personal items like razors, soaps, deodorants and more into separate categories. I have moved onto a bigger system and anyone wanting to start out with a bigger category system see organizing coupons on the side bar.

Now you are ready to use your coupons and save some money. There are stores that take the coupons at face value and some stores that double or triple a coupon. Ask the store you shop at what the policy is if you aren't sure. Each week you can use the adds that come in the paper to see where your best deals might be. I use several different stores to get the best deals. I plan my trips so I can get the most of the deals saving me time and money. Even if you only use one store you should see some savings the first time you use your coupons.

I go through each ad and write the deals I want then I add what I need that week to the list at which ever store I know I can get the best deals. I will use an example of a store that I go to that doubles my coupons. Say this week I need sour cream, toilet paper and cheese. I look in the add and see each of my items are on sale. I then make sure I have a coupon that will go with that item and it will save me money. It may look something like this...

Sour cream reg. price $1.20 sale price $.99 coupon $.30 (face value) double Ending price=$.39

Toilet paper reg price $3.50 sale price $3.00 coupon $1.00 (no double over a dollar) End price=$2.00

Cheese reg. price $3.00 sale price 1/2 off coupon $.50 (face value) double Ending price= $.50

Total pre-savings $7.70 Savings from sale & coupons $4.81 Total spent $2.89

You can see where the saving can add up over time. The best deals are when the item is already on sale and you use the coupon as well. You can also use an in store coupon with a manufacture coupon. This is called stacking. Stacking is a lot of fun!! We will talk more on that subject later.

Good luck with this first step to saving money. Up to this point (starting July 1, 2008) Here are my savings:

Total $1421.37

Total savings $785.95

Total spent $610.19

That is about $61 dollars a week average so far. Keep in mind that when you first start you may spend more then you want. It takes a while to start to stockpile what your family uses the most and then there is the fact that you get a little coupon crazy and buy more then you need sometimes. As you read sites the amount of shampoo and toothpaste we all stockpile is pretty funny. As you get better at the coupon game the less you will spend and the better you will get.


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