Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Beginners Guide: How to Coupon

Ok, so when I first started couponing... which was NOT that long ago.. I'd say June 14th was the official start of seeing coupons as valuable and not just pieces of paper that I'd occasionally use to save .50 here and .25 there. I was overwhelmed when it came to figuring out HOW to get items for way under retail value, or close to free. 
I started by taking my make-shift accordion file from envelopes stapled together to the store and looking at an item and looking to see if I had a coupon for that item and if it was a good deal. 
I have to admit this was very time consuming and not usually a productive trip to the store. I often left feeling disappointed and confused. HOW are these people doing this?! Then, with the help of my cousin, Jen (I heart you) I began to learn the ropes of couponing.  

First and foremost, you want to do store match ups
What this means is you look over the weekly flier for your favorite grocery store, then see if you have any coupons to stack on top of that particular sale.  
For example: Albertsons is having a 10/$6 sale on Yoplait yogurt. I have a coupon for $1/10 Yoplait yogurt. So I would stack my coupon on the store sale reducing my cost for 10 yogurts from $6 to $5 making them .50 each.  

It is extremely helpful to have a binder. It makes it so much easier to categorize and contain your coupons and faster to flip through while at the store. 
When you go grocery shopping, you should have a list made out for your store match ups, but you never know what in store deals or clearance items you might see. So this is when its helpful to be able to flip through quickly and see if you have a coupon for the cheese that is on sale that wasn't advertized in the flier. 
These dont need to be a big jumbo 3" binder to start. Its ok to start with a standard 1" binder and buy a package of 25 baseball card holder inserts.
Jen and I are selling starter kit binders for a really great price! ---------> *wink*

Lastly, the most important thing is only buy things you and your family are going to actually use and eat. 
For my family personally, prepackaged foods and freezer food (with the exception of veggies and chicken) aren't on our meal plan. So although there might be a great deal for Tyson breaded chicken, I dont go and purchase them because we wont eat it. 
Same goes for shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, toothpaste and so on. I understand that we will always need to purchase these items, but unless its basically free or free dont just buy them because you have a coupon. 
The idea is to be saving money, not spending just because you can save .25 ;)
This concept has recently just clicked for me... *blush*

Next you are probably wondering, "Ok so WHERE do I get coupons?" 
There are several places you can find coupons. 
*Coupon Picking- This was my favorite way to get coupons because it only cost me the money in gas to drive to the recycling center. But then I realized I needed all the current coupons if I was going to get the good deals that week. Some call it "dumpster diving" but I think that just sounds gross and not classy. Have you heard of the show "American Pickers"? Well that's where I came up with the term, "Coupon Picking" :) So basically you go to the recycling center, find the newspaper bin and start digging through! Expired inserts can be sent to military families stationed overseas! So dont throw them away! ;)
*The Sunday paper- You can preview the inserts online to decide if purchasing a paper is worth it for your family. Are the coupons for things you use/eat? If not, skip it and try again next week. There are 3 companies that have an insert in the paper.  
P&G (Proctor and Gamble)
If you sign up for the newsletter, they will send you a Sunday paper preview.
*In store coupons- These can often be found hanging on the shelf of the item it belongs to or on the item itself.  
*Printables- You can print coupons right from your home computer!  
Coupons.com is a great place to get started. You will need to install a free program to begin printing, but Ive not had any negative side effects from this site. 

So there you have it. The basics to begin your couponing adventures!

If you have any questions, please go to our Facebook page, add us and ask away! 
We (Jen and I) are always glad to help, as well as our 400+ fans!!!  :) 

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-Jen and Christin