Couponing 101: The Basics of Couponing
In today’s economy, everyone is looking for ways to “pitch some pennies” and save as much money as they can in all areas of their lives. I, and millions of others, have found a way to save money on everyday food and non-food items – couponing. When I mean ‘couponing,’ I don’t mean buying 100 rolls of toilet paper or 50 bottles of mustard. Couponing can save you money on your everyday grocery items – sometimes 50% to 75% off. I know what you’re thinking, “I don’t have the time” or “It just seems too complicated.” In reality, couponing can be easy and, at times, a lot of fun. Here are some tips to make your couponing experience a positive and joyful one.
Organization is very important. There is really no right or wrong way to organize coupons, what matters is finding a system that provides easy accessibility and a way to quickly find a coupon when you need it. Personally, I use the binder method. I use baseball card sleeves to organize all my coupons which I put into categories such as frozen foods and oral care. Along with my coupon binder, I keep a zippered pouch that contains a pen, memo pad, basic calculator, extra envelopes, and a pair of scissors. Towards the back of my binder, I keep extra baseball card sleeves and a few page protectors so I can put my weekly grocery ads in them.
Know Your Coupon Policies
It is always important to understand your store coupon policies. Each store has their own policies on coupons that consumers must follow. The best way to find the stores coupon policy is going to the store’s official website. It is strongly suggested that you print the policy out and take it with you when you shop. It is a great reference to have because not all cashier associates know their coupon policy to a “T” and you never know when you have to pull it out to help resolve a coupon crisis.
All coupons have small print that the consumer has to understand and follow. At times the verbiage can be a bit confusing, especially to novice couponers. Here is some common coupon verbiage that you will see on coupons:
“Limit one (1) coupon per purchase…” – This means that you can only use 1 coupon on each item. For example, if you buy 10 bags of candy, you have to have 10 of the exact coupons.
“Limit one (1) coupon per guest/shopping trip” – This means that you can only use a coupon for that item once during the shopping trip. So, if you have more than one of those coupons you either have to go to another store or come back on a different day to use the other coupon.
“Limit four (4) like coupons per household” – This means that you can only use up to four exact coupons in one transaction for 4 of the same item. If you want use more than 4 like coupons for the same item, you must conduct a separate transaction.
Where To Find Coupons
A popular question for novice couponers is “Where Do I Find Coupons?” Here are some ways to find coupons:
- Your Sunday newspaper
- Junk Mail Circulars (they are called Red Plum, Smart Source, Proctor & Gamble)
- Your local recycling center
- Dumpster Diving (check to see if it’s legal where you live before proceeding)
- Smartphone apps such as Cellfire, Target, and Walgreens
- Online (most online sites will let your print coupons twice and they record your URL)
- Facebook and Twitter
- Trading with friends
However you find your coupons, just make sure that you’re doing them legally. There is such thing as coupon fraud which carries hefty penalties.
Remember to take your time when it comes to organizing you coupons and planning out your shopping trips. It will serve for a smoother ride. Do not overwhelm yourself-always start small and work your way up to more bigger and complicated transactions. When you first start couponing, you may not see a noticeable dent in your savings but after a while you will start seeing all those lovely savings start to pile up. Couponing can be an art, if you choose to make it so. Happy Couponing Everyone!