Welcome back! If you’ve never couponed before, but you’re considering trying it for yourself, I highly recommend watching this tutorial video from Southern Savers. It will give you a lot of great background information to get you started:
Meanwhile, here’s a little overview from me, as well. 🙂
I figure one of the first things you may be asking yourself is how can I (easily and quickly!) find out if a product is on sale that week and whether or not there’s a coupon available for it? Stores send out weekly fliers in the mail and show sale items on their apps and websites, but they don’t usually list everything that’s on sale, and they definitely don’t show everything that’s at its lowest price!
This is where coupon match-up websites like Jenny’s come in. As much as I love the Southern Savers site, I don’t live in the south, so I use two websites for the Southern California area instead, since grocery deals vary by region. Jenny also covers national stores like Target, Walmart, and CVS, but I’ve even found that deals at the CVS stores out there don’t always match the deals out here.
So, my favorite websites for the Southern California area are:
If you happen to live in the south, by all means, use www.southernsavers.com. If you’re not in the south or in Southern California, do a search online for “coupon match-ups for [your area/region]”.
Websites like these are awesome. Each week, look up your grocery or drugstore on your coupon match-up site and scroll down to where it will say something like “Coupon match-ups for the week of [dates of the current week]” or “Coupons & Deals for [dates of the current week]”. That will show you the best deals at your store that week and all the coupons that go with those deals! You can even create a shopping list by checking off each item you want and then printing it right out!
So, this means that the way you’ll want to shop is by what’s on sale (hopefully at a rock bottom sale price) – not by what you need. So, rather than planning meals for the week and then going to the store to buy ingredients for them, you’ll buy what’s on sale and then plan meals according to what you bought. Also, rather than waiting till you’ve almost run out of something to buy more, you’ll buy a bunch of it on sale and never run out.
Also, as you start to stock up on items, be sure to also take full advantage of your freezer for items like meat, bread, and cheese. As you start to build your stockpile of dry and frozen goods, you’ll also be able to do some meal planning from your stockpile and not just from what you found on sale that week.
So, each week, as you’re looking at your favorite coupon match-up site(s), check off any item your family will use or eat, and that will make up your list. Think about how much of each item you think your family will go through till the next time it will go on sale – about 6 to 10 weeks – and buy that much of that item.
In the beginning, since you won’t have a stockpile yet, you’ll also have to buy a few items you still need at full price (or a not rock bottom sale price). But, just buy 1 of those items (or enough to last till the next week) since they will likely go on sale later.
Ok, so once you’ve checked off all your items and built your list, you’ll want to also prepare your accompanying coupons. If there are paper or printable coupons available for an item, it will show up right under the item in the list.
Printable coupons will show up as a link and look something like this:
Paper coupons will have the description of the coupon, the expiration date, the coupon insert it was in, and the date it came on like this:
Again, I have to give major props to sites like Southern Savers, The Frugal Find, and The Krazy Coupon Lady for compiling and producing a huge amount of wonderful couponing information, so instead of typing it all out for you again, here are a bunch of awesome links for you:
Here’s a great link for starting to learn how to pair coupons with sales: http://www.southernsavers.com/learn/
For some videos on finding and organizing coupons and coupon inserts, click on this link (you’ll also find more videos on the right hand side of this page): http://www.southernsavers.com/learn#getting-organized
For information on coupon “lingo”, click here: http://www.southernsavers.com/coupon-facts/#coupon-lang-and-lingo
These are just a few links, but if you explore these and other similar websites, you’ll find even more great info and tips!
Meanwhile, here are a few additional things I’ve learned…
• One is that coupon inserts that come in the newspaper vary by region (and often by paper!), so I’ve sometimes found that my insert didn’t include the coupon listed on the match-up site. But, the coupons are there a lot of the time, so it’s still been worth it to me to get a couple Sunday papers each week – especially since I was able to find a sale price for them! And, by getting 2 papers, I get 2 of each coupon, which lets me get lower prices for more items each time they go on sale! Since there are only 2 of us in our family, this is usually plenty of coupons for me, but if you have a large family, it might be worth it to get more papers to get more coupons!
• Printable coupons don’t usually vary by region (although, sites sometimes show you different coupons depending on your location!). They’re also almost always available to print, however, you may occasionally run across a situation where a coupon is no longer printable. Sometimes printable coupons have a limited number of prints allowed, so after that number of people have printed them, they “sell out”. Other times, printable coupons just aren’t available on a website anymore. Websites tend to swap out coupons monthly, so occasionally there will be a coupon link to one that no longer exists. Also, if you have a Mac, you may run into trouble trying to print coupons from sites that require Java to print like www.smartsource.com. Even with the latest version of Java installed, sometimes they’ll print for me and sometimes they won’t (they’ll always print in Windows, however). But, most of the time I’ve found that I am able to print a coupon from a link.
• Also, you will be limited to printing only 2 of any particular coupon per operating system per computer (unless a coupon happens to come up as a PDF!) That means that I’m actually able to print 4 coupons from my computer because I have a Mac that runs my Mac OS, and also reboots into Windows. So, I’m able to print 2 coupons from my Mac OS and if I want more, I reboot into Windows and print 2 more! And, yes, my hubby and I are techy, and I know that most people don’t have 2 OS’s on their computers, but in case you do, now you know that you can print 4 coupons! 🙂
• You can also print coupons from other computers, so feel free to take advantage of that if you need to. Since it’s just the 2 of us, I usually just stick to 2 of each coupon, but sometimes I’ll print more if something’s rare and coincides with a mega sale!
• Also, remember that to get multiple copies of printable coupons, you need to actually print them and not just photocopy them. I’ve heard it’s actually illegal to photocopy them! I don’t know if that’s true or not, but either way, you’re not supposed to photocopy them.
• One other thing to note about printable coupons is that you may notice that some of them will say “Redeemable at Walmart” on them (especially on coupons from www.coupons.com). I used to think that this meant that you could only use them at Walmart, but this isn’t the case! If a coupon is a manufacturer coupon and says “Redeemable at…”, it’s just an ad for that store and can be used anywhere! However, if a coupon is a store coupon and says “Redeemable only at…”, then it can only be used at the store indicated.
• In addition to hitting coupon match-up sites each week, I also recommend subscribing to couponing blogs. I currently subscribe to:
I get an email from them each day, and they show great deals going on at grocery stores, clothing stores, discount websites, restaurants, and more. Some days they don’t have anything I’m interested in, but many times I’ve found out about a great coupon or a great deal from them! I’m sure there are many other great couponing blogs to subscribe to, as well, so feel free to search around for more!
Ok, so this post is now getting to be a novel, so I better let you go until tomorrow! Don’t despair, however – the saga is almost done! Lol! Come back tomorrow for my last couponing post which will have a list of just a few more things I’ve picked up on along the way. 🙂