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Monday, August 27, 2012

Coupon Class (Cliff Notes)

At any given moment, my dining room table looks like this ...

Yes, couponing takes time, patience and good scissors, but once you start getting freebies, all that hard work is well worth the clipping! 

After all, each and every piece of paper you see in these pictures equals free MONEY! 

As your first lesson (especially for those who are not coupon believers), let's take a look at what stuff you can get for nothing and/or pennies.

In fact, why don't we start with my favorite coupon picture below. 

To the left you will see Cover Girl eyeshadow and blush and to the right, you will see the dollar bills Kroger GAVE me to take the make-up out of the store. That's right, I made more three dollars and change with six coupons! Yay! I couldn't believe it when the cashier handed me money back (not all stores give money back so you need to check your store coupon policy)!!

So "class" ... do I have your attention now? If not, take a look at the next pictures. I got all these for FREE (or close to free)!  I'm not bragging to show off, I'm telling you this to get you excited about saving money ... are you there yet?

Yep, got all the above for free!  

The body wash and deodorant were free from combining Publix coupons with manufacturer coupons on each item. The advil was in the travel section and the coupon didn't exclude travel items. 

I didn't pay anything for these 18 bars of soap and 40 pens! The soap was a dollar deal at Kroger and I had 50 cent coupons which doubled. I got the pens at Target with a dollar off printed coupon (the pens were on sale for 97 cents).

And ... I got all the above loot for 14 cents between three stores on the same day. Some of the crayons, toothpaste, razors, pens and feminine products will be donated to charity. I have a stockpile, but not like the ones you see on TV ... I'm not THAT extreme (yet).

NOW, to the good stuff ... how do you save money? 
First, you need to learn how to get coupons...

Where to find coupons?

  • ·        Newspapers, magazines, store card eCoupons, Facebook and email ads (when you sign up for company emails)
  • ·        “Peelies” or flyers on store shelves or in the front of stores (look for rebates too)
  • ·        Buy from people online (EBAY) ---- Never pay for printable coupons due to fraud … only buy the actual coupons
  • ·        Printable coupons you can find on websites (i.e. Target website)
  • ·        “Catalina” Coupons – printed at register after you pay

What you need to ask store employees?

  • ·        Does your store double or triple coupons? How much? What days/times?
  • ·        What kinds of coupons are accepted? (manufacturer, printable, eCoupons on your preferred card … etc.)
  • ·        Do you take competitor coupons? If so, what kind? Some stores have a piece of paper at the customer desk with the list of what competitor coupons they take ---EVERY store is different!! So, one Publix could take coupons from four different competitors and the Publix down the road may only take two or none.
  • ·        May I use a store coupon along with a manufacturer coupon on ONE item? Most Publix and Target stores allow you to use a store coupon AND manufacturer coupon on a SINGLE item – you can double up on the savings on one item!
  • ·        If you run a BOGO (Buy One, Get One) sale, can I use a coupon for both items? Publix has BOGO’s all the time. My store allows me to use a coupon for each item, including the free one, so it’s like using TWO coupons on one product while getting the other for FREE!
  • ·        When you advertise 10 for $10 – do I have to buy 10 to get the product for a dollar? Most Kroger and Publix stores don’t make you buy 10 to get the $1 deal – this is GREAT if you have a 50 cent manufacturer coupon that will double to $1 = FREE!
  • ·        Does your store have coupons you can find around the store? If so, where? My Publix has Advantage Buy flyers (one green and one yellow) at the entrance. These flyers have Publix and manufacturer coupons inside – grab a few when you go in because you may need them later!

Extra questions once you get the hang of couponing:

  • ·        Do you limit how many coupons I can use per transaction?
  • ·        Do you exclude any coupons? (BOGO offers, free product coupons … etc.)
  • ·        Do you match competitor prices if I bring in the ad? Most Wal-Mart and Target stores match competitor prices.
  • ·        Do you take Internet printable coupons? Can they be printed in black and white?
  • ·        What is your policy on overage? Some stores give you money back if your coupon is more than the product costs. So, if you are buying more stuff, then it can go toward the rest of your bill.

Interesting info about couponing/coupons:

  • ·        One coupon per purchase means per item purchased (not per transaction)
  • ·        Look for the #5 at the beginning of coupon barcodes – that means the coupon has a potential to double (but, even if  you don’t see #5 it could still double). If you see a #9 – can’t double
  • ·        Depending on where you live, you may be able to find a Publix “Mystery” Coupon in the newspaper. This coupon is ONLY good for that day and you must spend at least $10 to get the mystery item for a penny. The penny item can be anything from Publix sweet tea to toilet paper, bleach, cookies or cheese. Click here for more information from my earlier blog.
  • ·        Use technology! Kroger has an app where you can load coupons onto your store card!! Michaels, Jo-Ann’s and Hobby Lobby craft stores have apps with coupons and all you have to do is show them the coupon on your phone to get the discount.
  • ·        Smaller sizes of some products can be cheaper than the bigger sizes … do your math!
  • ·        If your store is out of a product and you still want the deal – ask for a rain check! A lot of places allow this, so when they re-stock (even after the deal is over) you can get it with your coupons. Just make sure the cashier knows you have a rain check before checking out.
  • ·        If you’re not into dumpster diving, ask neighbors for their coupons or ask the stores, schools or nursing homes what they do with left over papers.
  • ·        Just because the coupon says “Kroger” on it doesn’t mean it can only be used at “Kroger” … if it says “Manufacturer Coupon” on it then it’s fair game!

How should you organize your coupons?

  1. ·        If you have the time to cut them out, baseball card protectors are great to use in a notebook. You can make sections for food, baby stuff, household items … etc. The good thing about this is that you can grab your notebook and go, the bad part … it takes a lot of planning!
  2. ·        When you get the coupon newspaper inserts (RedPlum/SmartSource), write what day it is on the cover page. This helps if you use websites that tell you what date the coupons came in the mail (see #2 below).
  3. ·        If you get multiple identical inserts, some people staple the like pages together and cut the coupons when needed.

There are also great I-phone apps and websites out there ...

Apps: Coupon Sherpa (mostly retail), RetailMeNot, Kroger (load coupons), Publix (ad), Michaels, Jo-Anns, Hobby Lobby and Card Star (put all your store cards on this one App).

I'm a BIG fan of "The Coupon Mom" (Stephanie Nelson). Her website
is a one stop shop to find great deals and freebies. It is loaded with information about where to find the coupons and even links you to printed coupons. I LOVE this site and use it at least three times a week!

So, I hope this class was well worth your time (and you didn't even need a coupon to get it for free)! Feel free to ask a question or two in the comment question.



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