Couponing 101

I remember the first time I used coupons…I was so nervous.  I remember thinking, “Am I doing this correctly?”, “Will the store take all these coupons?” and “Will I make the people behind me in line mad?”.  All these thoughts went through my head and sometimes they still do!  For those of us who coupon daily and those of us who are new to couponing, I have compiled a list of couponing basics.

Confidence:  The first thing I remind people who are afraid or embarrassed to use coupons is this:  Think of a coupon as CASH!  You would never throw away a quarter or $1, so why throw away a coupon!!  Couponing is smart and can save you a significant amount of money.  So never be embarrassed.  Be proud that you are a responsible shopper!

Organization:  There is no “right way” to organize your coupons.  Some people use a binder, or a folder and even envelopes.  Whatever organizational method works for YOU will ease your shopping trip.

If you do use a binder, use the sports trading card binder inserts, they work the best for any size coupon.  Use dividers with tabs. Divide the coupons in sections that will work for you.  Here is a suggested list based on my weekly coupon match-up lists: Produce, Dairy, Meat Department, Deli, Frozen Foods, Canned Goods, Pasta & Sides, Bakery & Bread, Baking, Cereal, Breakfast, Snacks, Condiments, Beverage, Soap’s, Shampoo’s & Toothpaste, Household Cleaning, Paper Towels & Bath Tissue, Laundry, Baby Care, Pet Care, Store Coupons.

I personally keep a binder at home.  It’s a great organizational tool.  Then I remove the coupons I plan to use and take them with me to the store in a Mini Organizer! You can use a simple binder from Target, Walmart or Staples, Amazon has great deals on coupon binders and binder inserts as well!  Binder carrying couponers should also put your contact information in your binder in case you lose it!  Hopefully the person who finds it can return it to you! 

Time:  Couponing will take a little bit of time.  On average, plan for 30 minutes to clip, print and organize your coupons prior to going shopping.  I usually coupon after I put the kids to bed!  It’s my relaxing ritual!  Browse the coupon match ups and print the coupons right from the list!  It’s easy and will keep you organized.

Planning:  I find it’s always best to go shopping with a list and just the coupons I plan to use.  That way you won’t be tempted to over spend impulsively.  You will also know what your total should be so you will know if all your coupons went through at the register.

Coupons:  You must use coupons according to the guidelines printed on the coupon. Often times, there is a product picture on the coupon however, the guidelines may say something else.  Go with what is printed in writing, the store will too.    

Most stores allow you to use four (4) like coupons per transactions.  So if you buy 4 boxes of cereal, you can use 4 $.50/1 coupons. If you have a coupon for $.60/1 for the same cereal, you can use those as well, up to 4.  You are allowed to break up your orders to use additional coupons if you have them!

Manufacturer coupons & Store Coupons:  Manufacturer coupons come from the product manufacturer. They state manufacturer coupon on the top.These coupons can be found online, in the Sunday paper, or on the product themselves.  Store Coupons are coupons issued from the specific store, for example Price Chopper, CVS, Walgreens all issue their own coupons.   You are generally allowed to use one store coupon and one manufacturer coupon on one item.  Pairing these together with sale items make for GREAT savings!!!  Most of these coupons are one per customer per day.  So make sure you take advantage of this as often as allowed!

One thing to remember, you should NEVER copy a coupon as there are legal repercussions if you do.

Coupon Policies:  Each store makes their own policy, so get to know the specific coupon policy for the stores you shop at the most.  You can also print out the store policy and put it in your binder too.  It’s always good to have them on hand when you are shopping in case the cashier questions a coupon!

Coupon Sites:  Printable coupons are available at so many sites!  They are amazing and a necessity if you don’t get the paper or forget to clip one!  Here are some of the sites you should go to: smartcource redplum, .  Visit the manufacturer’s website and facebook pages to see what coupons are available as well.  Most grocery stores have also installed a coupon tab to help assist with printable and store coupons.  Facebook is a great way to stay up to date on your favorite products and the current deals and coupons.  “Like” their pages!    Target also has great coupons that are accepted at most grocery stores as well!  Most sites allow you to print these coupons TWICE per computer.  So, if you have 2 computers you can print out more!  Some deal scenarios will be put together based on printing out 4 coupons.

That’s it!  Now head out and save! If you have any specific questions, post them on Andrea’s Coupon Club!

Happy Shopping!