Couponing is something that I started about three years ago. Not out of desperation, but because I needed a hobby and we needed to stop spending so much money. We could easily walk into Wal-Mart and spend $80 once a week on groceries. And those “groceries” were just processed junk that we didn’t need to eat! We were pretty low on the vegetable scale back in the day.
I got started after watching the TLC show “Extreme Couponing”. Even though the people on the show seemed really weird and like hoarders, I felt that it was something I could do. Another influence was Consumer Queen! Her real name is Melissa, but she is from Oklahoma and I had seen her on the news before talking about couponing. So I knew that it was possible to do for an Okie like me. She also posts Oklahoma specific deals that are always great to get in on.
Where to get coupons.
After watching the show, I only kind of knew where to start. Buying 30 newspapers a week or going dumpster diving didn’t make sense to me. I did a TON of research before buying my first newspaper. I ended up on buying 4 a week. This is what I still do today. Reason being that most stores (think Target, CVS, Walgreens) limit your coupon usage to 4 like coupons per item per day. Target is also know for doing deals where you have to buy 4 of the item to get the discount. Buying the Sunday paper at 4 per week puts me back $8 a week or on average $32 a month. I know in bigger cities like Dallas, the Sunday paper costs $2.50 or $3 instead of $2 like it is in Tulsa. If your newspaper prices are a little too much for you, you can order whole inserts from clipping services online and have them delivered to your door. Or dumpster dive at your recycle center….
Another great resource is your computer. You can print coupons from varies websites like coupons.com, SmartSource, RedPlum, and directly from the manufacturer’s website. Sometimes these coupons are identical to the newspaper inserts but other times the have less value or require that you buy a different amount of product per coupon. BUT sometimes you get super lucky and the coupon value when printed online is much higher than the one that came in your insert!! Those are my favorite. There are also coupons that you can print exclusively online. It pays to have a good printer. Mine is a hand-me-down from my parents. The ink cartridge is about $30 when ordered on Amazon but it prints hundreds of pages in black and white.
My secret to getting coupons on the more expensive items that I need are to sign up for the company’s mailing list or “club”. Silk dairy free products send coupons to you through your email. They also offer “try it free” campaigns where you sign up to recieve free product in the mail to test and review. (It’s amazing). I have a whole separate email dedicated to all my store loyalty cards and email subscriptions so my personal email doesn’t get junked up.
Understanding your coupon.
The wording on coupons can be tricky sometimes, especially if your store limits the number of coupons used or if they double.
Like this coupon, it’s for $5 off the purchase of 1 razor. It notes “Limit one coupon per purchase. Limit 4 like coupons per consumer per day.” This means you can go to the store, pick up 4 of the razors indicated on the coupon and use 4 of your coupons. If you picked up a 5th razor and had a coupon for it, you couldn’t use it that same day.
This coupon notes at the very very bottom that it is “limit one coupon per purchase”. That does NOT mean that you can only use one of these at a time. It means that you can only have one coupon per item. Since the coupon itself doesn’t limit how many you can use in the same shopping trip, you are only limit to store policy.
These are just two of the examples of coupons that people get confused on. Another common area of confusion is doubling. No store in my area doubles coupons. However, I will drive an hour to have my coupons doubled (and that’s about as crazy as I get). The coupon will very plainly be labeled with “do not double” or “DND”.
It is SO VERY IMPORTANT to have your coupons organized in a way that makes sense to YOU. I have mine clipped and sorted into different categories. When I buy my newspapers, I take out the inserts, collate, staple, and cut them. This way I have little books of like coupons. It’s great! Just be careful taking the staples out 🙂
I have the coupons separated like I mentioned before into categories that make sense to me. I have them set up like how a grocery store has their aisle separated. The only exception is personal and health care items since there are so many coupons that come out. I have personal and health care broken into “hair, body, shaving, makeup, drugs, feminine care” etc. I got these tabs at Target for a few dollars. If you organize your coupons like this, please get plastic tabs and not paper! They may be cheaper but they rip a lot quicker! The coupon holders I got in a 20pk at Hobby Lobby. I have found similar baseball card holders at Vintage Stock for 25 cents a page.
Everything coupon related that I have is kept in this binder. I put my list in the front pocket when I go shopping along with the envelope that I put all my coupons in I know that I will use.
Nothing else in my life is organized, but I’ll be darned if my coupons and stockpile aren’t! Next week I’ll explain how to make a shopping list and how to build and maintain a stockpile (That doesn’t make you look like a hoarder).