Monday, March 22, 2010

Couponing 101

This is my coupon binder with a couple of this weeks ads, my shopping lists and the prepared coupons.

Couponing tutorial

List all products that you use. Try not to be brand specific but if you need to be for allergies ok. This list will also be your beginning sharing/trading list. If you use a lot of a product mark it with a special symbol.

Organize your coupons. Now you need to make a choice (and nothing is right or wrong) how are you going to hold your coupons? You can cut them out and put each division in an envelope, use a plastic box (with secure lid and lock), a binder and baseball card sheets, or one of the coupon organizer you see in the stores. You can also not cut the coupon UNTIL you go shopping for the item.

Now learn what stores are in your area and what their coupon policy is. Do they double coupons? What value will double? Do they have a limit on the number of like coupons that will double? Does the store take internet coupons? Don’t dismiss drug stores or other stores like Family Dollar etc you can buy food from anywhere and save money!!!

What if you are a big family and need more coupons? Buy 2 papers (I get mine from the dollar store not home delivery or the news stand), ask you non-couponing friends and family for their coupons, find fellow couponers and trade their not needed for your not needed. You can also print coupons from the internet.

Printing coupons – I suggest that you set up a special email account for coupon sites. Sometimes you get a lot of junk mail with them. Yahoo is free and very easy to use.

Keep up with your organizing. My average is one hour a week to cut, read, list and organize my coupons. I do it Sunday evening while I am watching tv. Once a month usually at the beginning of the month I remove the expired coupons.

Now that your organized its time to prepare your shopping list.

#1 Do a complete pantry/freezer inventory. List your meat by size of packages.

#2 Check the store ads: List deals on a piece of paper (use your scrap pieces or notebook if a big week at store). Check ALL stores for deals. To get the best use of your coupons and deals you may need to go to multiple stores (if possible). And remember to check for what I call multiple stops – one car stop but multiple stores.

#3 Make your meal plan and note anything you must buy for meals. Don’t forget to plan for breakfast, Lunch, snacks and special meals.

#4 Pull your coupons and put the amount next to the deal on your shopping list
It could look like Franks hot sauce $1.59 - $1.00 coupon = $59 (final price)
Also list any store deals such as Buy 10 items get $5 off deals. Watch your deals and when your doing that particular one make sure you have the required items.
Now put with your store list in an envelope or special place.

#5 Check the clearance/markdown carts. You can combine clearance with coupons.
And the food will not necessarily be outdated but could be damaged or even just changing packaging.

#6 If you get a great deal stock up as much as you can. Some things never go bad or you will use them quick enough it won’t matter. (Toilet paper, feminine items, shampoo conditioner, body wash, toothbrushes). Remember to rotate to use the oldest first.

#8 If they are out of stock on a sale item get rain checks. You can check back and get the sale price and use your coupons. It will also give you time to gather more coupons if you like. Remember to check how long the rain checks is good for – sometimes its 30 days sometimes they never expire.

Learn the sales cycles:
Jan – snacks, Watch for deals around Super bowl parties
Feb –
March – March madness snack deals/Easter
April –
May – picnic items
June –
July –
Aug – back to school things
Sept – Fall cooking/Back to school
Oct – Frozen foods/baking
Nov – turkeys/baking
Dec –

Watch my Facebook page – if you see that I became a fan of a foodie type site there is probably a coupon or freebie involved.

Now take your list, your coupons and go shopping. BUT remember to save your receipts that is another lesson.

Next lesson will be printing coupons and how to find them.

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