Since I’ve started this blog in October 2011, I’ve been learning how to save money by using coupons and playing the “drug store game.” In that short amount of time, I’ve been able to save 91% one of my first shopping trips with coupons, as well as spend $74.16 for $251.62 worth of items for buying the things we already needed. I never intended to do anything like they do in that show Extreme Couponing even though they were the inspiration for me to start couponing, but I am pretty happy with what I’ve been able to accomplish in the last two months alone. My goal initially was to save money and stock up on the items we would need in case I couldn’t find a job and had no other source of income coming into the house. As of right now, my unemployment ends next month and I have not been able to find a job. Luckily, I have been able to stock us up on some necessities with very little out of pocket money spent to achieve this.
First things first. Where to find coupons?
Sunday Newspaper Inserts
Even if you don’t know anything else about how to coupon, you’ve probably noticed the coupon “inserts” in your local Sunday paper each week. And depending on your region, most newspapers have up to two or more inserts on any given Sunday. Be on the look out for the Redplum, P&G and Smart Source for manufacturer coupons which can be stacked with in-store coupons for additional savings. Occasionally you will get bonus inserts including, General Mills (GM), Target and more. You will want to buy one or more papers every Sunday. A good rule of thumb that I’ve read is to purchase 1 newspaper for every person in your household, but I typically buy 5 newspapers right now. And what’s great is that coupon inserts aren’t just available in the newspaper anymore. You can buy them online as well! You can now find coupons through coupon-clipping sites such as The Coupon Clippers and Coupons & Things by Dee Dee. I’ve also bought whole inserts and coupons on Ebay! If you’re lucky, then you could score these inserts for less than the price of a newspaper subscription.
Notes about Sunday Coupon Inserts
- Not all inserts are alike. Some regions typically get better coupons than others. I am lucky in that I live between two major cities, but even I have to check which paper has the inserts I want, or if I am lucky to find a newspaper to have them all in. Generally speaking, if you live near a major metropolitan city, it may be wise to subscribe to their paper as opposed to your local one to cash-in on highervalue coupons.
- Some online sites can clue you in ahead of time as to whether or not there will be inserts in the coming week, how many there will be, and even which specific coupons
will be inside—this can help you plan your shopping trips ahead of time and decide how many papers to buy. I use Sunday Coupon Preview to keep up to date on the coming weeks inserts.
- Newspaper subscriptions are great, but only for the serious couponer. Too many excited newbies jump in the coupon game by subscribing to 6 copies of the paper and then soon realize the time consuming task of clipping and sorting (more on that later). I recommend testing the waters by using clipping services (mentioned above), and printing coupons first. Once you get the hang of it and realize your undeniable growing love of coupons, you can then decide if a newspaper subscription is for you! When I first started, I would buy 5 papers a week. Honestly, I still do and it’s well worth it. I have my own little routine now, but it is still very time consuming!
The best magazine that I recommend getting a subscription to is All You magazine, which can be exclusively be found at Walmart but you can order them online. You can typically expect to find over $50 worth of savings per issue in the form of coupons. You can even find coupons in magazines you’d never think of looking in. I’ve found a few good coupons in magazine such as Shape magazine, Good Housekeeping, and more!
If you’re interested in buying All You Magazine, you can check it out below on Amazon for there current prices. They end up cheaper than buying them directly from the magazine.
You ever see those coupon dispensers at the store? Well, that’s what I’m talking about here and there also known as a tear pad. On thing about couponing I’ve learned that you will want to learn fast, is to learn the coupon lingo. Also, I’ve been noticing lately that some people will leave unused coupons laying around the stores or taped on the product if they are not using them. It’s an unexpected surprise if it’s a coupon you’ve been looking for. I recently found a coupon on one of the bread shelves at Walmart for $0.50/1 Bison chips dip and I had been searching everywhere for this coupon to buy chip dip for a better deal for my boyfriend! We were even able to buy a organic cheaps to try since someone taped $1/1 coupon on the bag.
Find and Print Coupons Online
There are a lot of places you can find printable coupons online starting anywhere from Facebook, to printing them on the manufacturers websites. Here are a few places you should sign up to if you’re looking for printable coupons:
Directly from the Manufacturer
You can take a chance by emailing a company to request coupons and you might just receive them. Recently, I emailed Folgers a compliment saying how much I loved Folgers coffee and asked if they could mail me out some coupons since I was trying to save money. About a week later, I received an unexpected letter in the mail with two manufacturer’s coupons inside good for a $1/1 Folgers Coffee AND they don’t expire until June 2012.
Products You Purchase
These days you can find coupon peelies on products (stickers that are coupons), or sometimes inside the box of a product. For example, I was buying some batteries recently and they had up to $10 worth of P&G coupons inside.
When you sign up for a stores loyalty card, make sure to leave your correct address in case the store sends out special store mailers! You never know what high valuable store coupons you’ll receive to pair with a manufacturers coupon.
Joining a Coupon Forum
When I put together my shopping scenarios, sometimes I need a little help making sure all my numbers are figured out right. I’m honestly not that great at math! What’s helped me significantly since I’ve been learning to coupon is by joining the A Full Cup forum where you will find a community of people who coupon themselves and help each other with their money saving shopping scenarios. From there, you should consider joining a coupon train! Basically, a coupon train is just a group of people who circulate and trade coupons. You can do this with people online, friends and/or family! It can be a win-win situation for all, since I know there’s coupons I won’t be using but there’s coupons.
I hope that this helps you start couponing! There’s a lot more to it than this, but it’s good to start out slow. You’re not going to have coupons for everything you want, and if you’re just starting out, you won’t have most of the coupons you see in a lot of the scenarios.