If you are brand new to couponing and just visiting this blog you can start at the Coupons 101 - Overview to get a start on the how to's of couponing.

Always, feel free to contact me at thriftymomincolorado@gmail.com

Saturday, January 30, 2010

My Shopping Trips Today

I decided to take advantage of the Mega Sale going on at King Soopers today and stock up on some things we will be using in the future. The whole idea of couponing and stockpiling is to buy things when they are on sale at the lowest price and ideally with a coupon matched to it to get it at the lowest price possible. It is the idea of buying ahead and preventing buying things when they are "needed" and not on a great sale.

Here is a picture of what I got...
4 Boxes of Capri Sun Juice pouches
2 Boxes of Wheat Ritz
4 Boxes of Cheez-Its
4 Boxes of Nabisco Crackers
2 Bags of Tortillas
2 Cans of Hormel Chili
4 Bottles of Frank's Red Hot
4 Bottles of French's Yellow Mustard
3 Boxes Finish Dish Detergent
3 Bags Quaker Rice Cakes
4 Bags Green Giant Steamers Frozen Veggies
6 Boxes of Philadelphia Cream Cheese
10 Bags Kraft Natural Shredded Cheese

All 52 items for a total of...$41.72 out of pocket. Considering that the bags of cheese run $3.99 a piece and the Electrasol Dish Detergent are $5.99 a piece when not on sale, I think I did pretty good. My total before store discount and coupons was $154.25, I saved $112.53 so a total of 74% savings!!

You'll notice that this doesn't include any produce or meats and that is because I do most of that shopping at Sprouts. This was a trip to stock up on things that we use for snacks and other miscellaneous items.

You may be wondering what I will be doing with all of that cheese. Well, shredded cheese freezes well, so it will be going into my freezer until it is needed for my weekly meal plan.

I also wanted to give you some motivation to get started couponing and show you the items I got for FREE in the last week...

All of the items in this picture were completely free and some even better than free! The Quaker Rice Cakes were on sale for $.99 each and if purchased in increments of 10 items from the King Soopers mega deal ended up costing $.49 after the $.50/item discount. I had a coupon for $.75/1 that doubled up to $.99 (the actual cost of the item in the system) so I made $.50 to buy each of them. King Soopers doesn't actually pay you to take them, but the $.50 overage that I got on each of them was applied to the rest of my grocery bill.

The other item of note is the Bayer Glucose meter. There was a Register Reward deal at Walgreens this last week where if you purchased a Bayer Meter, you received a $5 RR. I had a coupon that was up to a $30 value and the meters were on sale for $14.99. I used the coupon and didn't even have to pay tax on the meter, so I walked out of the store with the meter and a $5 RR without spending a penny. I do not use the meters so I will donate it to someone I know who can benefit from it or donate it to a local organization. Now I have a $5 RR to spend on whatever I want at Walgreens and a meter to donate to someone who will appreciate it - I love it when stores pay us to take products!!

This deal is an example of why it is important to save all the coupons you receive whether you think you will use them or not. If I hadn't saved the Bayer Meter coupons, I wouldn't have made $15 from Walgreens (I actually bought 3 meters total during this promotion).

Leave me a comment if you got any great deals this week.

Walgreens 101

Walgreens is a great store to shop for health and beauty items for as well as some food products. They accept store coupons that are found on their website or in their weekly ad usually called Instant Value Coupons or IVCs which can be combined with manufacturer coupons. Store coupons will say 'store coupon' on them and manufacturer coupons will say 'manufacturer coupon'. You cannot use 2 manufacturer coupons on the same item or 2 store coupons on the same item, but you can use one of each to purchase a single item.

Walgreens has an awesome catalina program called "Register Rewards". Register Rewards are catalina coupons (they are called catalina because that is the company who does these coupons, and no it isn't referring to salad dressing!) that are printed when you check out at the register. They are printed from a different printer than your receipt so they will come as a separate piece of paper. In Walgreens ads, they advertise items that have a Register Reward associated with them. Register Rewards are usually a coupon that is good on your next purchase, not necessarily to be used on the same product. Essentially, they are like cash to use off of your next purchase at the store. Register Rewards (RRs) are usually valid for 2 weeks once you receive them.

Register Rewards do have some restrictions of items that they cannot be used on such as stamps, gift cards, milk and other items, so make sure to read the fine print on them once you receive them.

Walgreens is one of the trickier stores to coupon at because they require you have more items than coupons. IVC coupons or Walgreens store coupons don't count in the more items than coupon ratio. I'll give examples for you once I start posting Walgreens deals.

You also can use the Register Rewards to purchase the same item again, but you won't receive a new Register Rewards coupon. For example, if you bought Panetene Shampoo and received a $5 RR, you can use that $5 RR to purchase another bottle of Pantene, but a new RR will not print.

Also, you can use manufacturer or store coupons when purchasing items that qualify for RRs and still receive the RR - this is how you will begin to get items for very little out of pocket or even free!

Tomorrow will be the start of the Walgreens deals I will be posting each week. The list will not be all inclusive of the weekly deals for Walgreens but I will try to post all of the best ones.

If you have questions feel free to email me or post a comment and I'll respond as fast as I can.

Cheap Target Up & Up Diapers

Target has their store brand of diapers, Up & Up, on sale right now. If you order online, you can get free shipping on them. Also, if you order 4 or more packs you can use code URTYJLI8 to get an additional 10% off. Seems like a pretty good deal on diapers without any coupons needed. It makes that smaller packs $4.87/pack and the larger packs $8.17/pack before taxes.

I personally haven't used this brand since I no longer have kids in diapers, if you have experience with this brand, let us know in the comments sections.

(Thanks, SD!)

Cheap Books - Free Shipping

Books a Million is a discount book store and they are having a pretty good sale right now. Once at the website, click on the category you'd like to search in, just make sure you stay in bargain books to get the best deals. I then like to sort from lowest price to highest and browse the selections. I found a paperback Peter Rabbit book for $1.77 and Superfudge for also for $1.77. Use code BKLVFREE to get free shipping on any size order.

(Thanks, PYP!)

Friday, January 29, 2010

Staples Paper Deals

Staples has some pretty good paper deals in store through tomorrow (Saturday 1/30). First, go here and print out a 15% off coupon to use in store. Then go to Staples and purchase HammerMill CopyPlus copy paper 500 sheet ream, on sale for $5 with an easy rebate of $4 and also purchase Staples Photo Plus 4 x 6" photo paper 60 pack on sale for $9.99 with an easy rebate of $8.99.

You can purchase up to 2 of each paper to qualify for the rebates. Total cost after using the 15% off coupon and submitting for the Easy Rebate here is less than $1 per pack (not including tax)!! Just what I need to print out all of the printable coupons I use! You can see the products on the front page of their weekly ad here in the lower right hand corner above the case of paper.

Just a heads up, submitting the easy rebate is super easy. Go to the website with the link I provided with your receipt from your purchase and enter in necessary information. They will mail you a check for your rebate. The last one I did, I got the rebate within a month.

(Thanks, SD!)

Organic Valley Printable Coupons

Coupons for organic products are becoming available more frequently. Go here to print some great Organic Valley coupons. They are all $1/1, so high value organic coupons and are good for milk, eggs, cheese and other products.

(Thanks, TM!)

New Mission Tortilla Printable Coupon

Hurry, these coupons tend to go quickly! Go here enter in your email address and you will be able to print a $1/1 Mission Tortillas coupon. Pair this up with King Soopers sale this week and you'll be able to get a 12 pack of tortillas for $.25! Once your coupon prints, click the back button and you will be able to print a second copy.

(Thanks, Hip!)

Hooked on Phonics Sale

Hooked on Phonics has many of their products on sale right now. If you use code CASH50 or SLICK50 when checking out you will save an additional 50% off listed prices, including sale prices. That means the Discover Toddler package above that was originally $64.95 can be scored for $9.98 plus shipping and handling. The best deals are usually found under the 'On Sale' or 'Overstock' tabs on the left hand side of the website. I personally love their Super Workbooks for my kiddos.

(Thanks, PYP!)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Need some new clothes?

Old Navy 2 Day Super Sale!!

Old Navy is have a super sale Friday 1/29 and Saturday 1/30, they are taking 30% off everything in the store - no coupons needed! This offer is not available online, only in store and cannot be combined with any other offer. I would call your local store to make sure they are participating before heading out. Click here to find your local store. Have fun shopping and let me know what you were able to pick up if you go.

Free $5 Gift Card to Babies R Us - Today Only!

Go here to become a fan of Babies R Us on facebook today and you will receive an email with a $5 e-gift card. You can use the gift card in-store or online and it is valid through 2/20/2010. Yeah for free money to spend! Just make sure to sign up today since it is a one day offer.

(Thanks, SD!)


Swagbucks is a search engine that gives out random "Swagbucks" or points that you can accrue to redeem for prizes and gift certificates. It is a completely free and legitimate site. The more you search to more likelihood you will have to earn Swagbucks.

My favorite prize they offer is a $5 Amazon gift card. It only takes 45 Swagbucks to get a $5 Amazon gift card. You can easily acquire 45 Swagbucks if not more in a month and literally get paid to search the internet. You can save up the Amazon gift cards you earn to really save up to get things you want or need from Amazon for little expense or free! I used several of these gift cards to help with my holiday shopping last year.

Go here to create your account and start searching the internet using Swagbucks instead of your usual search engine. You get 3 Swagbucks credited to your account just for signing up and getting started. Then just use Swagbucks for your everyday internet searching and begin getting paid to do what you already do!

$.10 Photos at Walgreens

Walgreens is offering up a sale on 4 x 6 photos. Go online and order 50 or more prints through this Saturday, enter code SHARE10 at checkout and each print will only be $.10! You can choose instore pick up to save money on shipping costs. If you don't have a Walgreens account you will need to set one up to enjoy this deal.

Children's Place Winter Clearance

Right now the Children's Place stores are clearancing out their winter clothing to make way for spring gear. Prices are $3.99 and under at all locations and the outlet locations (Colorado Mill's and Outlets at Castlerock) have items as low as $1.99. Go here to print out a coupon valid for an additional 15% off sale prices in store.

You can also shop online to get some deals, but they are quickly selling out. To find the deals go to the size of clothing your child needs on the bottom toolbar and then click on 'Sale' on the left hand side of the screen. You can then click to sort items from prices low to high. Shipping is a flat $5 for any size order, use discount code E79AA to get an additional 15% off of online purchases.

(Thanks, SD!)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

King Soopers Weekly Deals 1/27 - 2/2

If you are new to couponing click here for introduction information to get started.

Just a few quick notes since this is my first King Soopers post. My store doubles manufacturer coupons up to $1, so any coupons between $.01 - $.50 are doubled, and coupons between $.51 - $.99 are rounded up to $1 or the cost of the item, which ever is less. They do not allow for overage on items when doubling coupons, for example, if tuna is on sale for $.89 and I have a $.50/1 coupon, they double the value of the coupon up to $.89 and not $1.

My format for posting the deals will be as follows:
Item name and sale price
Coupon with insert type and date to be paired with the sale
Total cost after coupon (assuming your store will double coupons too!)

Also, this list is not necessarily all inclusive, I will try to include the best deals I see but if you happen to find another great deal, feel free to leave a comment and I'll add it to the list.

Here goes:

King Soopers is running a Mega Event this week. This means that if you purchase participating items in increments of 10 (meaning 10, 20, 30, etc.) which you can mix and match which ones you buy, meaning that you don't have to purchase 10 of the same item, just 10 of any participating items included in the promotion, you will get a $5 discount taken off at check out. I will list participating items with an (*) next to them, so if you choose to purchase these items in increments of 10, you will essentially save $.50 more per item than the cost I've listed.

Mission Tortillas Caseras 4/$5 but remember you can buy one at $1.25, you don't have to buy all 4 to get the sale price.
$1/1 from the 1/10 SS
Total cost = $.25 per pack!

Mega Event deals:

*Quaker Cakes Rice Snacks $.99
$.75/1 from the 1/10 RP
Total cost = FREE! or better than free if you purchase in increments of 10!

*Capri Sun Juice $1.87
$1/2 Printable coupon here - Click on the name of the browser you are using - Firefox or Internet Explorer
Total cost = $1.37 each or $.87 each if you purchase in increments of 10! You must buy 2 to use the coupon for these items.

*Crest Toothpaste $2.49
$.75/1 from the 1/17 PG
Total cost = $1.49 each or $.99 each if you purchase in increments of 10!

*Finish Dish Detergent $3.99
$2.50/1 from the 1/3 SS, just shop before 1/31 as coupon expires then.
Total cost = $1.49 each or $.99 each if you purchase in increments of 10! GREAT PRICE!!

*Frank's Red Hot Sauce $1.99
$.50/1 from the 1/24 SS
Total cost = $.99 each or $.49 each if you purchase in increments of 10! GREAT PRICE!!

*French's Yellow Mustard $1.99
$.50/1 from the 1/24 SS
Total cost = $.99 each or $.49 each if you purchase in increments of 10! GREAT PRICE!!

*Hormel Chili with Beans $1.29
$1/2 from the 1/24 SS
Total cost = $.79 each or $.29 each if you purchase in increments of 10! GREAT PRICE!! You must buy 2 to use the coupon for these items.

*Green Giant Valley Fresh Steamers $1.99
$.40/1 from the 12/13 or 1/3 GM
Total cost = $1.19 each or $.69 each if you purchase in increments of 10!

*Kraft Cheese $2.20
$1/2 Printable coupon here - Click on the name of the browser you are using - Firefox or Internet Explorer
Total Cost = $1.70 each or $1.20 each if you purchase in increments of 10! You must buy 2 to use the coupon for these items.

*Philadelphia Cream Cheese $1.49
$1/4 Printable coupon here.
Total Cost = $1.24 each or $.74 each when purchased in increments of 10! You must buy 4 to use the coupon for these items.

* Nabisco Ritz Crackers $2.49
$1/1 from the 1/24 SS or $2/2 printable coupon from here
Total Cost = $1.49 each or $.99 each when purchased in increments of 10!

*Cheez-It Crackers $2.49
$1/2 from the 12/13 RP
Total Cost = $1.99 each or $1.49 each when purchased in increments of 10! You must buy 2 to use the coupon for these items.

*Ziploc Food Storage Containers $2.49
$.50/1 from the 1/10 SS
Total Cost = $1.49 each or $.99 each when purchased in increments of 10!

*Quaker Chewy Granola Bars $1.99
$1/2 from the 1/13 RP or Printable coupon here
Total Cost = $1.49 each or $.99 each when purchased in increments of 10! You must buy 2 to use the coupon for these items.

*Sarah Lee Pies $3.27
$1/1 Printable coupon here
Total cost = $2.27 each or $1.77 each when purchased in increments of 10!

*Velveeta Cheese $4.29
$1/1 Printable coupon here
Total cost = $3.29 each or $2.79 each when purchased in increments of 10!

*M&Ms $2.49
$1/2 from the 1/10 RP
Total Cost = $1.99 each or $1.49 each when purchased in increments of 10! You must buy 2 to use the coupon for these items.

*DiGiorno Ultimate Topping Pizza $5.49
$1.50/1 from the 12/13 SS
Total Cost = $3.99 each or $3.49 each when purchased in increments of 10!

Other Mega Event Items worth mentioning without coupon matchups: (all prices are after mega sale discount of $5 per 10 items purchased)
Kraft Easy Mac Cups = $.38 each
Sobe Lifewater or Propel Fitness Water = $.49 each
Pepperidge Farms Goldfish Crackers = $.88 each
Pepsi 2 Liter Products = $.79 each
Amp or Rockstar Energy Drinks = $.99 each
Herdez Salsa = $1.99 each
Tombstone Pizza = $2.49 each
Lays Potato Chips = $1.88 each
Armor Meatballs = $1.99 each

3 Day Weekend Sale (prices only valid Friday - Sunday)
73% Ground Beef (5lb roll) $.99/lb.
Bush’s Best Beans $.69
Kroger 4 pack tomatoes $1.99
Gills’ Fresh Diced Onions $.99
Wisconsin Cheese $2.99lb
White French Bread $.79

Again, these are the best deals I've found. If you have any other great deals, leave me a comment or email me at thriftymomincolorado at gmail.com

Happy Shopping!

Coupons 101 - Getting the Most Savings from Couponing

There are many aspects to couponing to save the most money. Here is an overview of some of the most efficient strategies to use when couponing.

Match coupons with sales. This is one of the most basic techniques to save money but it will save you a significant amount. In order to be able to do this, you have to be familiar with pricing on items you use frequently and know when the sale is at its best. Stores constantly put deals in their ads that really aren't that great of deals. I will be posting sales with coupon match ups for local grocery stores to take the work out of matching coupons to the best sales.

You may see boneless skinless chicken breasts on the front page of an ad for $2.99/lb, which sounds like a good deal. If you've been keeping track of food prices for awhile, you will know that the price will go lower and rock bottom price for it is usually around $1.99/lb, so that is the time to stock up.

Another example using coupons would be Tea Bags. Let's say they are usually $2.99/box and you have a $1/1 coupon. If you purchase the tea bags regular price with your $1/1 coupon you will pay $1.99/box, seems like a pretty good price. But if you wait for a sale and they go on sale for 2/$3, you will then only end up paying $.50/box (sale price of $1.50/box - $1/1 coupon = $.50, quite a bit less than the $1.99/box we were paying just using our coupon.

Look for markdowns. You can score great deals on items that have been marked down for quick sale. Meat and product rarely have coupons for them so the easiest way to save on these is to look for Manager's Specials, they are usually items that are getting close to their expiration date that the store discounts to sell quickly. For meats, you can stock up on these and make sure you use them quickly or freeze for later use. If you get really lucky you may find marked down items that you have a coupon for and can save even more money!

Buy multiple copies of papers or coupons to be able to stock up when a great deal comes around. If your family drinks a lot of tea, then you'd want to stock up using your coupons when it is on sale. There are several ways to get multiple copies of coupons. You can purchase multiple copies of the Sunday paper.
You can ask friends and family that don't use their coupons for their coupon inserts.
You can purchase coupons online. There are many resources available to purchase multiple copies of coupons (ebay, thecouponclippers.com and many other sites). Technically you aren't allowed to purchase coupons so you are usually paying for their time and energy to sort, clip and mail the coupons to you.

I have used several resources to get coupons without problems, you just need to keep in mind that there is usually shipping time involved, so you need to order coupons early to get them before the sale ends.

Stack coupons. Certain stores like Target, Whole Foods, and Walgreens put out store coupons in their sale flyers or other forms. You can use 1 store coupon and 1 manufacturer coupon per item purchased. Let me give you an example... Target has apple juice priced at $3. You have a $1/1 Target store coupon and a $1/1 manufacturer coupon. You can use both coupons to purchase 1 thing of apple juice for $1 ($3 price - $1 Target coupon - $1 mfr. coupon = $1!

Shop different stores. If time allows you, shop multiple stores in your area. On a weekly basis stores make different items their loss leaders, meaning they are sometimes priced below cost to get you in the door. If you only buy these items and go to several different stores to purchase them, you will acquire multiple items for the least amount of money out of pocket.

Price Matching. Certain stores will price match local competitors. It doesn't hurt to ask. Walmart price matches local competitors, you just have to bring in the current sale flyer that you want to price match and they will adjust the price for you when checking out. The item does have to be identical and they don't price match percentage off sales or buy one get one free (BOGO) sales. Just keep in mind that Walmart doesn't double coupons ever.

Bigger is not always better! When couponing the way to get the best deal is usually to buy the smallest size allowed by coupon. For example, 4 pack crescent rolls may be on sale for $1 and and 8 count may be on sale for $1.75. Technically without coupons the 8 count is the better price per roll, but if you have a $1/1 coupon, the 4 pack would be free and the 8 count would be $75. Why not buy 2-4 counts for nothing using 2 coupons instead of getting 1 8 count for $.75?

Most store advertise sale prices as something like 4/$5, meaning buy 4 for $5. You usually don't have to purchase 4 to get the sale price. Most of the time it will ring up as the individual price of $1.25 each, so you only need to buy what you want. Walgreens seems to be the exception to this rule. Usually at Walgreens if an item is regularly priced at $2.50 but is on sale that week for 2/$4, the first item will ring up full price at $2.50 and the second item will ring up at $1.50 making them 2/$4.

Only buy what you will use or can get for free and donate. When couponing it is so easy to buy tons and tons of stuff because you can get it cheap or free. Only buy what you will use before it expires or can donate to a local food pantry or other organization.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Where to Start?

There are 3 main ways to start saving more money while shopping. I'll give a general overview here and then go into details about each of these further.

1. Meal Planning - This is one of the most critical steps to getting on track to saving the most money on your grocery budget. In a nutshell, you look at the weekly store sales flyers and plan your meals for the week utilizing ingredients that are on sale. Click here for more information about meal planning.

2. Couponing - Again using the weekly sales flyers of the stores, match coupons with sales to save the most money. Using coupons alone will save you money, but pairing them with a sale is how you get things for free or next to nothing. Click here for more information on couponing.

3. Stockpiling - Along with couponing is stockpiling. Stockpiling means different things to people. I use the term as to what I do when purchasing products at rock bottom prices to get me through until the next sale comes. Click here for more information about stockpiling.

Coupons 101 - Overview

The whole idea of couponing is using a coupon paired up with a sale to get the lowest price (sometimes free) on items you will use.

When using coupons you must purchase the number of items listed on the coupon to use them correctly. Coupons that are $X/1 are good for the X amount indicated off of 1 item. Coupons that are $X/2 are only to be used when purchasing 2 of the items listed and are good for a total of X amount off of the 2 items purchased. For example if you have a $1/2 coupon you will receive $1 off the purchase of 2 items. If you only purchase 1 items and try to use this coupon, it will not be accepted.

Click here for information about where to get coupons.

Click here for questions to ask your store when starting to coupon.

Click here for ideas of how to organize your coupons.

Click here for strategies to save the most money when using coupons.

Below are some of the abbreviations that will be used when I talk about coupons:
SS = Smart Source coupon insert, found inside the Sunday newspaper and will come after a date (for example 01/03SS - means the Smart Source insert that came out in newspapers on January 3)
RP = Red Plum insert, found inside the Sunday newspaper and again will follow a date of which the insert came out.
PG = Procter & Gamble insert, found once a month in the Sunday newspaper.
GM = General Mills insert, found inside the Sunday newspaper and will follow a date of which the insert came out.
IP = Internet Printable coupon
BOGO = Buy One, Get One Free
FAR = Free After Rebate
MIR = Mail in Rebate
CATALINA = A coupon that prints out at the register as you are checking out.
IVC = Instant Value Coupon, at Walgrens
RR = Register Rewards, a catalina program that Walgreens does
FF = Firefox web brower
IE = Internet Explorer web browser

Coupons 101 - Where to get them?

First I want to say that being thrifty and saving money takes time and babysteps along the way. If you try to do it all immediately you may get frustrated, so start with the basics and work your way to being the super thrifty money saving person you want to be!

I want to explain the in's and out's of couponing before I start posting the deals so you know where to start on saving the most money possible.

Where do I get coupons?

Many coupons can be obtained through the Sunday newspaper, there are anywhere from 1-5 inserts in the paper each Sunday, excluding holidays. The best deal to get these coupons is usually by subscribing to the paper and having it delivered to your home. If you choose to purchase papers at retailers on Sunday it will run $1.50 per copy.

Printable Coupons have risen enormously in popularity. Many places offer printable coupons. You usually have to download coupon printing software before being able to print coupons online. There is also usually a limit of 2 per computer. I will link directly to printable coupons when available. You are required to download coupon printing software to your computer before being able to print these coupons. I've downloaded the software and not had any issues with it.

Websites such as Smartsource, Coupons, and redplum offer a variety of printable coupons in one place.

Tear pads are coupons that are found in stores. They are just as they sound, pads of coupons that you tear the coupons off from. Any time I see a tear pad, I take a couple, but never more than 3. Coupons from tear pads do not necessarily need to be used in the store you get them from, unless they specifically say something like only valid at a specific store.

Blinkie Machines are found throughout stores as well and are great sources for coupons.

Catalinas are the coupons that print out at the register when you check out. These coupons are usually for a specific item. Walgreen's has a great catalina program called, "Register Rewards" which I will cover in detail in another post.

Peelies are coupons that are found on items that you peel off to use. Only use peelies from items you are purchasing, do not remove them from items you will not be buying.

Magazines have tons of coupons in them these days and are a another great source for them.

Home Mailers are also a great way to obtain coupons. You can sign up with companies to receive newletters and samples and many of them come with great coupons.

Electronic Coupons can be loaded to your Safeway or King Soopers cards or to your cell phone. Some great sites for them are: Cellfire and Shortcuts

Coupons 101 - Questions to ask?

When you start couponing I suggest calling the stores you will be shopping at and asking them some questions about their coupon policy. I usually just speak to someone at the customer service desk and ask them the following questions...

Do you double coupons? If they say yes, ask for details like...up to what amount?, how many like coupons will be doubled per transaction?
Do you accept internet printed coupons?
Do you accept competitor coupons?
Do you allow for combining store coupons and manufacturer coupons?
What is your rain check policy?
Do you price match local competitors?

Those are the most important questions to ask when getting started. You don't want to spend lots of time coming up with your plan only to have coupons rejected or not accepted how you want them to be.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Coupons 101 - What to do with them? Ideas on how to organize your coupons.

Organizing and storing coupons is the hardest thing to get in the habit of. There are many ways to do it, all of which have their pros and cons.

Storing inserts whole.

This is the simplest and most time friendly way of storing coupons. Once you obtain your weekly inserts, you simply date the insert and then file whole thing away where you will be able to find it.
Pros - No clipping needed up front, so takes the least amount of upfront work! Not very much organization needed. No energy spent clipping coupons that won't be used.
Cons - You don't always have coupons with you when you find an item that is not on your list for a good deal. You have to spend time hunting down coupons once you make your list for shopping.

Envelope System

You clip the coupons you plan to use and organize them into categories that will make them easy to find when you are shopping.
Pros - Coupons are already clipped and ready to go when you make your shopping plan. You have a higher likelihood of having coupons with you for extra items
Cons - More time consuming upfront than storing the whole inserts unclipped. Usually don't have room for lots and lots of coupons.

Coupon Binder
Using this system is the most time consuming one up front. You have to clip any and all coupons you think you may use and file them in a binder. Most people use 3 ring binders with baseball card holders in them so that on each page you have 9 different places to put coupons.
Pros - Have coupons well organized and easy to find for planning shopping and during shopping.
Cons - Takes a lot of upkeep to keep coupons current - clipping, sorting, throwing away expired coupons that weren't used. You will clip coupons that you won't end up using, so a waste of energy to some people. Lugging a big binder around can be a pain.

That said, I use a coupon binder as my main coupon organization system. Let me know if you have questions.


This picture is from someone who has been using this technique for a while. Remember, don't try to do this amount of stockpiling in a week or month. Being able to have one this big requires time and patience to get it for the lowest cost out of pocket.

Stockpiling is the idea of buying products that you need at rock bottom prices in order to keep from paying more for them. By shopping sales and matching coupons with them, you will be able to start creating a stockpile for the least amount of money.

Before you start stockpiling and buying tons of food that you will not use at all or will not use fast enough, it is a good idea to keep track of the food you eat and how frequently. This goes hand in hand with meal planning. If you eat pasta once a week, that means you will have a pasta dish about four times a month. Store sale cycles are about 6 weeks on average so if there is a good sale on pasta, you want to buy enough to get your family through at least 6 weeks, so for the example family, they'd want to buy enough for 6 meals. I like to have a little bit more than that on hand, so I'd probably buy enough for 8-10 meals.

Stockpiling takes room. I have 2 sets of shelving in my basement for all of our toiletries and dry storage food. I also have a full size freezer in my garage for all of the frozen food. You can stockpile whatever space or your budget allows you to.

Part of stockpiling is knowing enough about the pricing of the products you use most to know when they are a good deal. An easy way to start tracking this is to start a price book. It can be a little notebook you carry in your purse or a big excel spreadsheet you keep on your computer, what ever works for you. You want to put information on the items you purchase most and the lowest price you can pay for those items. For example, we eat a lot of boneless skinless chicken breast and I know that $1.99/lb is my stock up price. Anytime I see chicken breasts at or below $1.99/lb is my time to stock up as much as I can afford to either financially or room wise in my freezer. By knowing the price points at which to buy, you can save a substantial amount of money without even clipping coupons!

Meal Planning

The idea behind meal planning is to have plan for the day, week or month of what you will be eating. If you begin to meal plan, you can save money even without using coupons.

The first step to save money with meal planning is not to necessarily plan all the meals you want to eat, but use items that are on sale for the week. That doesn't mean you have to eat meals that you don't like, but what it means is that you may need to be a little bit flexible using what is on sale and what you already have on hand.

Our grocery ads in Colorado run from Wednesday through the following Tuesday. I like to sit down on Thursday evening with the sale ads from all grocery stores close to me and come up with my plan. If I see chicken breasts on sale at a good price that week, I will purchase some and use for a few meal that week. If it is a rock bottom price on chicken breasts, I will stockpile some in my freezer for later use. Click here for more details on stockpiling.

Meal planning doesn't have to be set in stone. When I meal plan I don't like to plan it out for specific days, just have a general plan for the week and pick from the list I've put together what sounds good.

A lot of saving money comes down to planning your meals and shopping and then sticking to it!


aboard for the ride. This blog is designed to help those of you looking to save a few dollars but still enjoy life and the great things you like along the way! My goal will is to give you local grocery stores specials and coupon match ups on a weekly basis and throw in other samples, freebies and great deals I find along the way.

Always feel free to contact me to let me know what information you think would be beneficial for you and I will try to include it with all of the other deals I find!