q = coupon ip = internet printable coupon mq = manufacturer coupon SS - Smart Source insert from Sunday paper RP - Red Plum insert from Sunday paper PG - Proctor & Gamble insert from Sunday paper -$1/2 - $1 off 2 items -.50/1 - .50¢ off 1 item
There are lots of different ways to start; again I will just share how I did it and if it fits your style, great! Sometimes just an idea will trigger your own style. At first when I thought about starting this whole coupon thing I didn't think that any of the coupons were anything of what I buy so what's the point? So in regards to this I have found that there are more things on sale that I use than I thought there would be. And when this is done right buying Kraft cheese that’s on sale with my coupons for .50 cents a bag opposed to what I usually buy which is the Kroger brand which is it's regular price of $2.95 a bag this week, well that’s a no brainier. And then I can buy more to freeze for my storage. Does that make sense? And if I usually don't buy a certain box of cereal but I can get it for .97 cents a box this week well then now I AM eating that box of cereal! And I put it in my three-month food storage.
So here is how I started:
First I knew I had to keep it organized or I wouldn’t do it long term. So I found an accordion file I had in the basement. But if you don’t have one get creative. Use what you have and create a way that will work you. If it's not easy to access, you won't do it.
I started out on-line looking around at all the hundreds of different sites out there that have links to coupons. I will say that the first week is grueling because you have to sign up for like everything in order to get the coupon. But, once you sign up you can easily return to get the future coupons. So be patient. I use my yahoo e-mail to do this- my junk e-mail!
I also have some links to a few blogs that do this full time and are great at it, so find a couple that you like and then you can narrow it down to just going to them instead of a hundred different ones. They will have all the links to the coupons that are out that week or month right they’re on their site.
Then I get the Sunday paper and clip all of the ads. I learned to clip them all even if I didn’t think I would use it because I would find out that peanuts were on sale for half off and then with my coupon it would have been like 10 cents and peanuts that cheap can be eaten! Or used for my storage. So clip them all.
Now, this is the way to actually make it work- at the beginning of each week I go through the stores ads. What they have on sale. For me, my stores that I look at are Kroger Meijer IGA CVS Walgreen’s Wal-Mart
Then I just start matching up the coupons I have with the sale items that week. This part takes a couple 2-3 weeks (at least it did for me) to get the hang of. I did get to the point where I had what coupons I have on hand memorized which made looking through the paper much faster! And sometimes you will find that some store sales are not really that great to make it worth buying. Like the generic is still cheaper even with the coupon.
Something else I did was walk through the store and write down prices of all the main things I buy and charted it. This was huge because I found that Wal-Mart isn’t always cheaper on some items that I thought were. So now when I have a coupon for juicy juice lets say, I know that Kroger juicy juice is cheaper than Wal-Mart. So I am going to go there instead for that item.
Which leads me to the next thing. I do write out my list if meals for the week. Then all the ingredients that I need for those meals. Then I separate the list between the stores that I know have the sales for the particular items. And then I shop two or three stores. This is how I bulk up my three-month food storage by the way. I bought 11 boxes of cereal this week for $18.88. And the good cereals too! That went to my food storage.
This is work, no question. I can't believe how much it takes sometimes, BUT, for me, I choose to do this because this IS my job. I am the one who is in charge of this area of work. And I have just embraced that and as Sister Bonnie Parkins said, "step up to the plate sisters and be happy about it" It really is the biggest high when I come home and look at all I just bought and all the money I saved!
Aaron has been so great about me doing this too, I think that with how tough times are right now and how hard HE is working it makes him appreciate the fact that I am working just as hard to use the money he makes wisely and frugally.
My sister in-law gave me these tips:
1.) You can have 1 coupon per number of items stated on the coupon.... ie: $2/1 means you save $2 on 1 item, $1/2 means you save $1 off 2 items, but if something is on sale 2 for $4, you can use TWO $2/1 coupons because you're buying TWO items.. clear as mud? 2.) It is pretty rare that a coupon will state you can only use one per transaction.... one per purchase means one per item purchased- so you can use 20 of the same coupon in one transaction as long as you have the correct number of items... 3.) you can't use more than one manufacturer coupon per item- that's called 'stacking'- you can however stack a manufacturer's coupon + a store coupon + a sale + a rebate.... 4.) internet coupons are generally manufacturer coupons 5.) internet coupons will generally allow you to print them 2 (sometimes 3) times per computer..... per computer! I go to Nathan's office and print from each of the 7 computers there to really rack up my coupons... the number of coupons printed nationwide is monitored by the software ('coupon printer') you have to download in order to print them- that way when the number of allowable coupons has been printed, the coupon is no longer available- the manufacturer has to reimburse the store, and they don't want to have to reimbure $5 million if thats how many print.... they usually set limits (I've been told) around 30,000-50,000... 6.) Each coupon you print has a unique number on it- making photocopies is fraud and doesn't allow the store to get reimbursed- is it really worth your integrity to save a few cents? Plus, there are plent of legit ways to save so much and if people go 'round cheating, there won't be such great deals out there in the future... I know you guys wouldn't do it, but I've got to say it anyway *grin* 7.) you can print the coupons in black and white or color.... I set my printing preferences (in the control panel) to black and white/fast draft to save on ink... and for the single coupons that print (rather than 3 per page) I hit the cancel button on the printer as soon as the coupon part is printed so I can cut it off and use the rest of the paper for another coupon... cheap, I know, but when you're print 75 coupons, you start to feel like you're wasting a ton of paper! 8.) before you get to printing like mad, make sure that your store(s) accept printed coupons... that would be a total waste of time, paper and ink!