Why Use Coupons
Using coupons is a great way to save money! You can see in My Vons Grocery Shopping Trip how I paid $.49 for a $4.99 box of cereal by combining store sales and coupons, and saved 64% overall. Sometimes, you can even get a product for free! So, couponing is definitely worth it.
How To Use Coupons
The most important thing is to make sure you read the words on the coupon, and don’t just look at the picture. You need to make sure you’re getting the correct type of item and size, or your coupon can’t be redeemed. For example, I have a coupon for $1.00 off 3 General Mills Cereals. The picture shows 2 boxes of cereal: Honey Nut Cheerios and Cinnamon Toast Crunch. So, if I only looked at the picture, I would think I have to buy only those exact 2 types of cereal to redeem the coupon, but that’s not true. When I read the words, I see I need to buy 3 cereals, and it lists 25 kinds I can choose from!
Also, if the coupon doesn’t specify the size, you can often use it, to get the item for free. The floss my kids use comes in a few different sizes, and the smallest one sells for about $1.00. So, when I have $1.00 off their floss, I purchase that smallest size, and get the floss for free. You can also get travel sized items for free too using that same method. Sometimes I give these items I purchased for free to my local food pantry.
There are manufacturer, store and e-coupons. Make sure you read the rules on all of them. Some of them can even be doubled(although not here in S. CA anymore). Even if they can’t be doubled, you can combine manufacturer, store, and e-coupons to double or even triple the amount of money taken off an item. That’s how I got that $4.99 box of cereal for only $.49. It was on sale, I had a manufacturer coupon (like the one I mentioned above), then a store coupon for a certain amount off the cereal, then an e-coupon for money off the cereal.
Where to Find Paper Coupons
I’m still an old fashioned type of girl, so I find the majority of my coupons in the Sunday paper, in fact 2 Sunday papers. I subscribe to our local San Diego Tribune and receive 2 papers on Sunday; I don’t get the paper the rest of the week. I get 2 papers so I can get double the amount of coupons(the amount I save is more than the cost of the 2 newspapers). Since items are often on sale more than once before the coupon expires, I can take advantage of having 2 sets of coupons. Also, if the coupon is off 2 items, and the sales limit is 4 items, having 2 sets of coupons lets me purchase all 4 at a discount. The Sunday paper usually has coupons from Smart Source and Red Plum; and once a month, from Procter & Gamble.
I also get coupons in the mail once a week. There’s a bundle of papers that come in my mail, usually on Tuesdays, that includes the store circulars, sales on local restaurants/gyms/car repair shops, etc., and Red Plum coupons. They are usually different than the ones in the Sunday paper.
On the computer, you can also find coupons to print. I print the majority of mine from mypoints.com. I earn points every time I redeem a coupon and then those points can be redeemed for gift cards. You can also find some on couponmom.com, which I will talk to you more about next week. Other places you can look are: smartsource.com, and redplum.com. Of course, you can google printable grocery coupons and find tons more sites.
When I first started couponing, I contacted several manufacturers and requested coupons for the products that I used from them. They’ll either send you some in the mail or by email. You can look on their website to find out how to contact them by email or phone.
Grocery stores used to send coupons in the mail once a month, based on what you purchased, but I haven’t received any in awhile, so I assume they stopped doing that. By the way, be sure to keep your eye out when you’re grocery shopping, because there are those things attached to store shelves, where you can pull out a coupon to use. Also, items that you’re purchasing might have a coupon on the packaging.
Where to Find E-Coupons
I’m sure a lot of you prefer this style nowadays. A lot of grocery stores have e-coupons that you can use. I have finally had to give in, and use them for some things too because this is the only way to take advantage of some deals now. I use Vons’ Just For U program and Ralphs’ Digital Coupons, which also includes one free item every Friday. You can just go to their website, and find these deals. They are connected to your store card, but you don’t have to have your card to redeem them, you can just put in your phone number.
I even think most of these deals are on an app now, but I haven’t quite figured those out yet. One small technology step at a time for me. E-coupons are great because besides the ones offered for everyone as part of their weekly deals, they also tailor coupons for you according to what you purchase. For example, at Vons, I purchase their Signature Select low fat ice cream almost every week, so almost every week, I have an e-coupon for their Signature Select ice cream.
How to Organize Your Paper Coupons
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There are lots of different ways to organize your coupons. I currently use a purple and black medium sized coupon organizer from Grandmas Little Lilly Etsy shop. I’ve always used some form of coupon organizer expanding file because that’s just what works best for me.
I’ve seen a lot of people in the grocery store use a coupon organizer binder.
There are even coupon organizers for your purse.
If you use Couponmom.com (which you can read more about in my post, How to Save Money Using The Coupon Mom), you don’t have to clip coupons so much. You just write the date on the coupon circulars you get every week from the mail and newspaper, and file them in an expanding file folder (that’s what I used) or whatever method works for you. Then, using her website, you look at the grocery deals list and it tells you what coupons to use and where to find them.
So, as you can see, there are lots of ways to use coupons, get coupons, and organize them. Next week, I will talk to you more about Couponmom.com.
What are your best couponing tips?