Coupon 101: A Beginner’s Guide to Couponing
This is a basic beginner’s guide to couponing to help you get started on saving your family money and expanding your budget. I know it can seem overwhelming when you first start couponing. I’m not going to lie, it really can be at times! Believe me, there are times I take a break from it because I…well….just NEED ONE! Over time it does, however, get easier. But like with anything, the time invested is worth the reward! You will see a difference in the amount of money you are spending and soon will question why you never couponed before! I know I have many times!
Online: There are many online websites that allow you to print coupons for free just by signing up. Signing up is free too! Here is a comprehensive list of websites that offer printable coupons.
- Sunday Newspaper: The most cost effective way of accumulating coupons is by having the Sunday paper delivered right to your house. The nice thing about that is you can decide to only have the Sunday paper delivered. I personally get the L.A. Times because they have the largest amount of coupons in my area. Check your local area to see what is the best newspaper to order. A great place to order your newspaper is through Discount Newspapers.
- All You Magazine: This magazine is considered the “Couponers Magazine” because it has anywhere between $20 and $50 in coupons per month! The only place to get it in store is at Wal Mart, but you will pay much more than getting an All You Magazine Subscription.
- FREE Samples: I often post FREE Sample offers. These samples often come with high-value coupons, so sign up if the product interests you and you think you might like to buy it in the future. Here is a list of FREE Samples I have written about!
Using Envelopes: This is the method I used when I first got started. You would simply make an envelope for each of the categories you have coupons for (beauty products, baby products, pet food, laundry & dish, personal care, etc.) Then store the envelopes in a plastic tub or something you find that works best.
Accordion File: This is part of the method I use now! You can purchase the small wallet-sized ones or the larger paper size one. The benefit of using a larger (paper size) is that you can store your entire insert from the Sunday paper. I suggest filing the entire insert by date (so you will have a section in the accordion file for each Sunday newspapers coupon inserts). I also suggest waiting to clip any coupon until you are ready to use it. This not only easier, but you are also not waisting time cutting coupons you never end up using.
- Coupon Binder: This is the current method of organizing coupons that I use! In fact, I have the exact one pictured to your right. I bought it on Amazon, HERE. This is a great method if you are a heavy couponer and have a lot of coupons to organize. In my coupon binder I keep a small pair of scissors, pen, calculator, pad of paper, copies of store coupon policies, and a price book.
My price book is a simple list of things that I frequently buy with a price listed next to it that I think is good. That price reminds me of what is a reasonable amount to pay for that item. It keeps me from questioning weather I paid a good price or not.
I use plastic sheets that are made for trading cards (you can buy those at Wal-Mart) to store my coupons in. I separate the sheets with vinyl binder dividers that I have labeled for each category (ie. beauty supplies, pet food, teeth, laundry, etc.). Of course you will need to organize your binder the way that works best for you. I have seen them organized by expiration date and alphabetically too.
Prepare to Shop! I recommend you making a list and sticking to it:
Check the Ads: Sit down with your local grocery ads and see what is on sale. Try and plan your meals for the week around what is on sale.
Coupon Match-Up: Obviously the best scenario is to get something on sale and use a coupon for it! Although this may not always be possible, try and match up your coupons to the items on sale in your ad so that you get the best bang for your buck!
- Write a List: Writing a list and sticking to it will not only make your shopping trip a breeze, but it will also keep you from those compulsive buys (although I still have those every now and then…ok…maybe one per trip). I also recommend paper clippingthe coupons you are going to use to that list.
Stockpile! There is no real secret to couponing, except for this one! Stockpiling simply means to buy a few extra of those things you use frequently when they are on sale for the cheapest price! This is how you do it:
- Find a Place to Store: Designate a place, cabinet, etc. to store the extras you will buy. If you have a designated place, it will help keep you organized and keep you from being stressed out about where you will store your extras when you get home.
- Find the Best Price: Each week when the ads come out, sit down with them and see if something you frequently buy is on sale and then see if there is a coupon that matches up to it. If there is, that’s the time to STOCKPILE t0 save money! It’s that simple!
It’s important to have good Coupon Ethics too! We have seen in recent past how stores become more restrictive on coupon usage and policies when people do not follow rules and use coupons properly.