Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Basics of Coupons, Part 1

So you get your newspapers delivered to you with the coupon inserts inside. What do you do now? Do you use every coupon? Do you clip every coupon? Where do you keep your coupons? Do you bring all your coupons with you when you shop? How do you keep track of expired coupons? Is there a good time and a bad time to use my coupons? Some of these questions have more than one answer. I've done it two or three ways, and I've landed on one answer that works for me (for the time being!).

I'll answer those above questions and a few more, one at a time.

1) Do you use every coupon? Of course not! If you did, you wouldn't be saving money, you would be doing exactly what the manufacturers want you to do: to get hooked on their product , and then buy it without the coupon later. Use the coupons (when at all possible) when there is a already good sale on that product and you would use it, or when you know that it will be free.

2) Should you clip every coupon? I tried this. After 1 month of collecting coupons, I had WAY too many to keep track of. I had to start adding categories all the time to my coupon notebook so I could find them. I do not clip coupons now unless I know I'm going to use them at the store trip I'm planning to take in the next couple of days.

3) Where do you keep your coupons? Like I said question #2, I personally did not enjoy clipping every coupon. Now, I file them in a cabinet (or you can buy a little filing box and folders from Walmart to do this). I have four folders right now: "P & G" "Smart Source" "Red Plum" and "Miscellaneous." The first three are inserts from the newspaper. I write the date they came to me on the front of each insert and file them in order. In my last folder I have The Entertainment book, my ALL YOU magazines, and toy coupon magazines.

4) Do you bring all your coupons with you when you shop? I don't. I used to, but that made my shopping trip super long, and if I have my kids with me, I tend to impulse buy and not think hard enough about the purchase. I take an hour or so before the shopping trip to decide what I'm going to buy, what coupons to use, and put them all in a folder. I use an envelope for the time being, but I really want to get something like THIS. If you have the will-power to stick to your list, you'll usually win in the end.

5) How do you keep track of your expired coupons? If you clip your coupons, you'll have to fish through them every once in a while and throw them away, which is time consuming. You may get frustrated that you let so many "good deals" get away. Don't!!! If you didn't impulse-buy in the first place, that's money you didn't spend! That's a good thing! Remember, don't use every coupon, or you'll end up spending more money than you wanted to. If you file them, you just have to throw out the whole insert that contains all expired coupons after a few months. You didn't waste the time clipping them, so time and money were saved! Bingo!

6) Is there a good and bad time to use coupons? Well, you're going to save money either way, but your goal should be (if at all possible) to save the MOST money. If you have a $1 off coupon for Coffee Creamer, you can either buy it when it's full price at $3.99, or when it's on sale for $1.99 each. In the first scenario, you'll get the Creamer for $2.99 (still on sale). But in the second scenario, you'll get it for $0.99!! That's awesome! Over time, you'll be able to see a trend of how often you can get a sale price on an item, and you can buy enough with coupons and sale prices to last you until the next sale.

7) What if I have only one coupon for an item, but I want to buy several of the same thing? Some people will get multiple copies of the Sunday paper if they see good coupons ahead of time. There are some places online that you can print off coupons, too. You can use one manufacturer's coupon for each of that item you buy. So, using the example in the last question, if you wanted to buy 4 Coffee Creamers for $0.99 each, you would need 4 of those coupons. Here are some ways to get coupons online (sometimes you are only allowed to print 2 copies per computer):

Smart Source
Red Plum
Hot Coupon World

8) When can you use more than one coupon on a single item? You can use one manufacturer's coupon AND a store coupon on a single item. Using the Creamer example again, the Creamer was on sale for $1.99. You had a $1 coupon. But you also have a store coupon for $.50. You can get that creamer for $0.49. What if you're at Kroger and coupons are doubled up to $0.50? You'd save $1.00 with the Man. Coupon, and your $0.50 coupon doubles to $1.00. You would get that creamer for free. See? You can get some GREAT deals by waiting for a sale, using more than one coupon per item, and when coupons are doubled.

9) How do I know what's on sale at certain stores? Well, you can look through the ads that come to you in your newspaper & the mail (which aren't all of them), you can search online for the stores you shop at, or you can subscribe to blogs in your region who have already written them down (I do the latter). They will email you, usually on Sunday or Monday, the sales that are happening at the stores, and which coupons to use and where the coupons came from. If you file your coupon inserts and date them, you'll then know where to look, and you'll quickly be able to make your list. It'll be hard to find them quickly if you've already clipped them. You can find some blogs on my homepage, and also on their homepages. Just peruse some, and if you like them, subscribe to them.

Ok, that's all I can think of right now. Leave a comment of questions you think I should address so I don't miss anything. It will help me tremendously!! :-)

No comments:

Post a Comment