Couponing 101

If you have never couponed before or have minimal coupon shopping experience, this is where you will want to start reading.

Learn the coupon and sales rules for the stores near you. Stop by and talk to customer service or give them a call. Here are some questions you may want to ask:
Do they double coupons or triple coupons?
What are the amounts they will double ot triple too?
Is there a limit on the number of like coupons you can use per transaction?
Do they accept internet printable coupons? Is the a dollar limit on the value of the coupon? (some stores limit the amount an IP coupon can be worth)
Do they have a store savings card?
When an item is buy one get one free do you have to buy both or will a single item ring up half price?
Can you use a store coupon and a manufacturer coupon on the same item?

Gather Sales Ads for the stores near you, this includes drug store and discount stores. If you don’t get the actual ad, most have theirs available online.

Track their sales schedule. Some items go one sale once a month while others maybe once every 6 months. By tracking the sales you will be able to judge an estimated time an item will go on sale again and plan your stockpile amount accordingly.

Types of Coupons
1. Manufacturer Coupon- A Manufacturer Coupon is a coupon that has been printed for the manufacturer. It can be used at any store that accepts coupons. The store will be reimburse for the coupon, plus a handling fee.

2. Internet Printable Coupon- An internet printable coupon is a manufacturer’s coupon that is available online to be printed from your computer. There are generally print limits of 2 per coupon per computer.

3. Insert Coupon- An insert coupon is a manufacturer coupon that is available in most local Sunday papers. Some areas have been including insert coupons in the mail instead of the local papers. They are generally included in the bulk mailing of the grocery flyers in your area. There are 3 types of inserts, Proctor & Gamble, Red Plum (formerly Valassis), and Smart Source.

4. Store Coupons- A store coupon is a coupon that is to be used only at the issuing store. Usually that coupon will say “redeem only at XXX store”. CVS and Target are examples of stores that issue their own store coupons.

5. Catalina Coupons- A catalina coupon is a coupon that is triggered by some part of your purchase. A manufacturer may trigger a coupon to print when you buy a competitors toilet paper. Generally these are store specific coupons that must be used at that store.

6. Magazine coupons- Magazine coupons seem to be becoming more popular. Often there are little coupon booklets inside the magazines or coupons printed on the regular pages. All You magazine found at Wal-Mart is full of coupons each month. You can purchase an All You subscription HERE for a fraction of Wal-Mart’s price.

7. Home Mailer Coupons- Home mailer coupons are sent directly to your home from the manufacturer or marketing company. Generally you will get these if you request them directly from the website or if you have signed up to received an email newsletter from the company.

8. Tear Pad Coupons- Tear pad coupons are usually found on product displays, however they can be anywhere around the store. Tear Pad Coupons are generally manufacturer coupons that can be used at any store that accepts coupons.

9. Blinkie Coupons- Blinkie Coupons are similar to tear pads coupons. They are generally found near a product display or on the shelf near the product. The blinkie coupons are in a little machine that blinks. Each time a person takes a coupon, the machine replaces it with another.

Coupon Organization
Coupon organization is almost as important as the coupons themselves. Being able to find or locate the necessary coupons is a crucial part of coupon shopping. Coupon organization should being as soon as the coupon come into your house.

There are many ways to organize coupon inserts. Inserts can be dated and filed for future use in a filing cabinet or expandable file orgainzer. Or if you prefer you can cut all the coupons and organize by category or alphabetically. Index card holder or shoe boxes with dividers work great for this method.

Many people prefer to take only the coupons they are using to the store with them. I prefer to take them all. By taking them all, I never miss a deal on a possible clearance item or unadvertised deal. O)rganizing the coupons you carry with you is all personal preference. Some prefer the expandable coupon holders while others use 3-ring binders with plastic photo or sports card inserts.

Once you have your coupon holder, you should organize them in a way that is easy for you to find what you are looking for. Personally, I organize mine by the aisles at my local Giant Eagle since this is the store I shop at the most.

Start a savings journal. Couponing and stockpiling can be time consuming. Tracking your spending will not only help you stay on budget but will also allow you to see how much money you are saving or making yourself. If a penny saved is a penny earned just imagine saving $100 a week on your grocery bill for just 2 hours worth of time. Thats $50 a hour you just paid yourself.

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