Couponing 101 – Crash Course

In a time when everyone is cutting back, or cutting out (no pun intended), on just about every expenditure that they can – it seems “couponing” has resurged as the latest obsession. We have all heard stories, or seen newscasts, about those select few who can go into a store and walk out with 100’s of dollars of merchandise for under $20.00 .

No matter how we individually feel about using coupons – we all admire those resourceful souls who can accomplish this feat!

I happen to go to church with a sweet young mom who has managed to make “couponing” into an art form – and gotten several of us “hooked” as well!  She manages to regularly have $5.00  shopping bills for 100’s of dollars of household/grocery items almost weekly! I have even heard of times that she has basically “made money”  shopping because she has not only gotten all of her purchases for “free” – but she has walked away with “Register Rewards” that took several dollars off of her next shopping trip as well!

Awesome huh!?!

Who wouldn’t want to do that?!?

Even more impressive is the fact that we live in a “smaller” town where coupon inserts in the newspapers are far and few between!

So, we’ve all been taking notes from her (and her Blog  http://www.savingatthelake.com/ ) and have learned a few valuable things that really work to shave lots of dollars off of your check-out totals.  Now I am not quite to her “level” yet,  but I am now able to regularly cut my grocery/household costs in half (or more) at the check-out counter (think $45.00 – $75.00 off or more every time)!

That’s a huge deal nowadays (i.e. a tank of gas!!). Someday I hope to be as good at it as she is – but at least I’m making progress.    😉    

Now, you all know that I do not have a lot of free-time on my hands – so get the idea of spending hours/days of cutting out coupons out of your head right now! I am about to give you a Crash Course in “Couponing” for the time-challenged like me.    🙂   

Okay? Ready?     😉    

Rule #1)    Stop being “embarrassed” about using coupons at the check-out counter!!!  That fidgeting, miffed, “in a hurry” person behind you will be picking their jaw up off of the floor and asking you “How?” you did it when they see/hear your total go from $200.00 down to under $60.00 (happened to me last week at TARGET)!!!

Rule #2)    Get yourself a smallish-type accordion pocket file folder (4’x8′ or so) to keep your coupons in. Label each pocket of the folder with the types of coupons it will contain (i.e. grocery, pets, store, household items, paper products, hygiene, meds, car, etc…).  These save time, fit right into your purse/pocket, and make life MUCH easier!!

**NOTE:  Keep all of your “Store” specific coupons (meaning that they are only usable at a certain store) in the section marked “Store”, and all “Manufacturer” issued coupons (usable anywhere) in the other sections of your folder. This makes “stacking” coupons easier. (Definition of “stacking” : you use 1 “store” coupon AND  1 “manufacturer” issued coupon for the SAME item.  Saves LOTS!!!! Or gives you the item for “Free”!!!)

Rule #3)    Go Online!!!  Even if you are lucky enough to get a daily paper that puts coupon inserts in the Sunday or Wednesday paper, you will find 100’s more coupons online to print out, or even download to your phone!! Listed below are the ones I use (check them every week or 2 since they update often) and they are legitimate, cause NO computer issues, and are accepted with NO hassles at the stores!

Bookmark these as “Favorites” on your computer for easy access later:

http://Coupons.com

http://redplum.com

http://coupons.target.com

http://smartsource.com

http://pgeverydaysolutions.com/   (Proctor & Gamble)

http://www.kroger.com/  (several grocery stores under their ownership)

http://walgreens.com

Sign up for emails/subscribe/bookmark these Blogs that ONLY specialize in telling you about the latest coupon releases – and how to use them efficiently to save the most money:

http://savingatthelake.com

http://dealseekingmom.com

http://kansascitymamas.com

**NOTE: Wal-Mart just implemented a coupon policy, and they will even accept competitor coupons as well!!! It is so new that I recommend you print out a copy of it to take with you to show the cashier in case they haven’t been “briefed” yet – This is the Direct Link to the Wal-Mart Corporate Coupon Policy:

http://walmartstores.com/7655.aspx

Rule #4)   AS you shop, pull the coupons out of the folder that you will be using at the check-out! When you do get to the check-out aisle, hand your coupons to the clerk BEFORE they ring you up!!!  This save lots of time/confusion at the end.

Rule #5)   Find out who among your friends/family/co-workers also uses coupons, and switch off!! Paige and I do this for baby/toddler items (she has 2 young/new ones), and for dog/cat food items (I have lots of “furry” mouths to feed.  She brings me the dog/cat food coupons that she finds – and I bring her all of the baby/diaper/toddler item coupons that I find.  Win, Win!!!!!

There! That’s it!! Now, just keep your coupons IN your purse/car and grab them when it is time to go into the store! You will be AMAZED at how many of the coupons will be for items already on sale that week (or even already “on clearance” at Target)!!

Trust me – the 1st time you knock your check-out total in half (or more) you will b “hooked” too!    🙂   

Besides – who couldn’t use a lower grocery/household bill????

It’s just too bad they don’t make Gas coupons…….     😉     

Have a great day!!

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4 Responses to “Couponing 101 – Crash Course”

  1. flyinggma Says:

    Love all your tips Shady. My daughter and I just watched Extreme Couponing show this week. Looking forward to trying some ideas to save some money on groceries for
    sure.
    Blessings, Jeanne

  2. myknittingcircle Says:

    The picture made me laugh out loud. As an owner of a ’94 Mercedes that uses 93 octane, I don’t drive unless I have to and wait until I can run several errands in one outing.

  3. planejaner Says:

    and–if you have a smartphone, get some apps to help!
    🙂
    we have 2 women at our church who are INSANELY good couponers…
    amazing.
    keep it up!
    jane
    have you seen the website http://www.hip2save.com ?

    • shadybrooks Says:

      Hadn’t seen that website before – so Thank You! Congratulations on your new Smartphone by the way Jane! I don’t have one of those, but I hear they are amazing!!


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