How to Coupon Part 1

PART 1:

“If you saw a dime on the ground, would you pick it up? Maybe (or at least point it out to your child who most likely will  pick it  up) ….if you found a dollar on the ground, would you pick it up? Yes. Why then do you throw away coupons? Coupons are just like that dollar you found on the ground.

Coupon Lingo (just the basics):

  • Coupon- Q
  • Manufacturer Coupon- MC or MCQ
  • Buy 1 Get 1 Free- BOGO
  • Buy 1 Get 1 50% Off- BOGO 50%
  • when you buy- wyb
  • Out of Pocket- OOP

Memorize this lingo so you can speak coupon code. Smile, its fun

The most important thing about couponing: The Coupons. You need coupons. Where do you get coupons? 

Sunday paper: most Sunday papers have coupon inserts intermixed with the ads (but look all through the paper). The most common inserts are:

  • Smart Source (SS),
  • Red Plum (RP) and
  • Procter & Gamble (PG)
  • Other inserts include: Walmart, Pepsico and General Mills.

If you have friends/family (your friend’s cousin’s aunt who gets the paper but throws away her coupons, give her a call and see if she will save them for you).
Product Packages: coupons can be on or in some of the packaged items you already have at home. You could have some high value coupons just sitting on your shelf and you don’t even know it (go check your shelves).
The Internet: good souroces for printable coupons: Coupons.com , SmartSource.com  and RedPlum.com are great places to start. I print only the coupons I know I will use (ink and paper are not free).
Magazines: Magazines can be full of high value coupons. A great magazine for coupons is All You . Ask your friends/family for their old magazine, they could be a coupon jack pot.
At the Store: I always find coupons at the grocery and drug stores, they can be a coupon gold mine. Five common areas to find coupons in stores:

  1. Coupon booklets are often found at the costumer service desk and on display all around the store, keep your eyes open.
  2. Peelies. Manufacture coupons that are stuck to an item (you have to peel them off)
  3. Blinkies. Coupon machines, shoulder level with little red lights that “blink” and administer a coupon when you walk by.
  4. Demo stations. Usually a demonstration station offers coupons for the product they are promoting.
  5. When you get your receipt, some times coupons (called catalinas) come with the receipt.
  6. Medical/Dental offices: When I take my kids to get a check up, I always find stacks of high value manufacture coupons on the front desk.

Now that you know where to get coupons, what do you do with them? 

Sort and save your coupons. Saving your coupons is a key ingredient to couponing. Do not throw away your Sunday paper coupons if you don’t use them right away. That is a BIG “no no”! On almost every coupon there will be an expiration date. Most coupons expire weeks, months and if you’re lucky a year from the time you acquired them.

Sorting Coupons (3 main ways):
1. Clipping all your Sunday paper coupons and keeping them in a big binder with dividers labeled: dairy, toiletries, feminine products etc or filing them in alphabetical order (baseball card holders work well).
2. The “clipless way” (this is the method I used when I stared out). Buy or recycle an accordion type file folder with built-in dividers or use a file box or cabinet. File each week’s Sunday paper coupon inserts into a new file or slot. No clipping.

  • Example: For the week of April 1, 2012: each insert is labeled 4/1/12 and filed together. Continue this type of filing every week, file in order and labeled.  My file folder has 14 slots which means it holds little over 3 months worth of inserts. Coupons are filed this way because the date of each insert creates a Simple Coupon Code most couponing sites use to tell you what coupon to use and where to find it.
    Example of coupon code:  Maxwell House coffee 4/1/2012 SS, which means there is a MH coffee coupon in the Smart Source insert from April 1, 2012.

3. Hybrid method. I now use this method, as I have been couponing for a while now and have accumulated quite a few coupons from other sources (the ones listed above) other than the Sunday paper and those coupons need to be filed as well. I still use my accordion style file folders for my Sunday paper inserts but also use a binder to organize all my non-Sunday paper coupons alphabetically. I used to keep all the “other coupons” in a box which was a nightmare when I had sort through it and try to find a specific coupon I just knew was in there. I go a few steps further still in my hybrid organizing. I use small wallet size accordion file folders to organize the coupons I have sorted out for each transaction on my shopping trips. There are also a few coupons I clip and keep with me always (diapers, eggs and tea) in case I find a deal in the store on these items I frequently purchase.  Lastly, there is an empty section in my wallet folder for all the new coupons I find and pick up during my shopping trips (if I just stuff them in my purse I lose them, which has happened far too many times).

Now that you have acquired, labeled and filed your coupons, you are ready to start couponing!!! In the next section I will teach you about the different kinds of coupons there are and how to use them efficiently to dramatically decrease your OOP (out of packet) spending. Couponing changed my life dramatically for the better, I hope it does the same for you.

PART 2: Finding “The Deal”

Finding “The Deal” takes understanding coupons and how they work and combinding that knowledge with a sale. This combination of coupons and sales is what “couponing” is all about. So lets dig in……

Pick a Store: When starting out pick 1 or 2 stores you commenly shop at and stick with them. Trying to go out and snag all the weekly deals will leave you tired, frusterated and overwhelmed, keep it simple. When I started out I picked 1 grocery store and 1 drug store. Look for weekly store circulars in the mail and if you dont receive them, stop by the store and pick one up. Grocery store circulars should come in the mail on Tusedays and Drug store circulars come in the Sunday paper.

Store Circulars: This is were you will find the weekly sales. Grocery store sales run for 6 days (Wednesday-Tuesday) and Drug store deals run for 6 days (Sunday-Saturday), some areas differ, like for example Southern CA. Check your circular dates. Look at your circulars and find the items you normally buy that are on sale, circle them with a pen.

Stacking Coupns: Stacking coupons is the “meat” or the center of the oreo cookie for couponing. Stacking is the term couponers use when an item is on sale and one or more coupons are used in combination with the sale priced item.

For Example:
Colgate Toothpaste- $2.00 (sale price) at CVS
Use: $1/1 Colgate Toothpaste Coupon “How to Coupon Magazine” pg 1 May 2012 (I just made that up)
And Use: $1/1 Colgate Toothpaste CVS Coupon
The Deal: FREE

Let’s break that deal down. Colgate was On Sale at CVS for $2.00, then a $1/1 Colgate Manufacturer Coupon (from magazine) was used and finally a $1/1 Colgate Store Coupon was used. The 3 ingredients in this deal:

  • Sale Price
  • Manufacturer’s Coupon
  • Store Coupon

Stacking can be done in many ways, this is just one example.

Manufacturer Coupon (MC): a coupon from the maker or manufacturer of an item. When an MC is used at a store to pay for the full or parcial amount of an item, the manufacturer actually reimburses the store for the amount stated on the coupon. Manufacturer Coupons will say “Manufacturer” on the coupon.

Store Coupons: a coupon from a store (often found in store ads, store coupon books or on recipts or store coupon machines). This coupon will say the Store Name somewhere on the coupon (Safeway, CVS, etc..). Examples of CVS Store Coupons:

  • Red coupon machine usually by the enterence
  •  Bottom of the reciept,
  • Online at www.cvs.com
  • In the CVS magazine, Reinventing Beauty.
  • CVS has a rewards program that give Extra Bucks for buying certain items, those can be stacked with a manufacturer coupon and a store coupon to make a great stacking deal!

You can use a Store Coupon in combination with a Manufacturer Coupon in MOST stores.

A few Coupon Rules:

  1. You Cannot Use 2 ‘Cents Off” Manufacturer Coupons for the Same Item, even if the coupons are 2 different Manufacturer’s coupons. An example: $1/1 Colgate from All You Magazine and $0.75/1 Colgate coupon from 5/6/2012 Smart Source, are both “Cents Off” coupons and cannot be used for the same item. You have to choose one and I almost always choose the higher value coupon.”Cents Off” manufacturer coupons (MCQ) are coupons that give you money off the total ($1 off, $0.75 off the total amount for a product).
  2. You CAN COMBINE a “Cents Off” Q with a “BOGO FREE” Q or a “BOGO 50%” Q at some stores. A store that lets you use both these coupons together is CVS. Safeway, Rite Aid and Nob Hill do not allow this type of coupon use.
  3. Most of the time you CAN use 2 Store Coupons for the same item as long as they are different. Example at CVS for toothpaste: $1/1 Crest CVS Coupon from the Coupon Machine and $0.75/1 Crest CVS coupon from CVS.com, 2 different store coupons for the same item. This senario does not come up that often but it will come up, combine 2 different store coupons for an item on sale and you have yourself a great deal, maybe even a FREEBIE (getting an item for FREE using coupons!)

7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Anonymous
    Jul 05, 2012 @ 12:24:23

    Your ‘coupon Primer’ is REALLY helpful! I have been intimidated by the ‘stacking & ups’ with store coupons, but with you help, it is really worth the savings. I will be closely watching your site for the deals for kids now that I understand the process better. THX

    Reply

    • kidsncoupons
      Jul 06, 2012 @ 00:38:25

      So happy u took the time to visit my site and to read How to Coupon. please ask any question you want about couponing. I know it can be a steap learning curve.

      Reply

  2. Trackback: CVS Deals for 7/8- 7/13 « KidsnCoupons
  3. jenny
    Jul 10, 2012 @ 20:16:32

    I’d like to start couponing, but don’t know where/how to start. Can you give me some advise? Thanks!

    Reply

    • kidsncoupons
      Jul 10, 2012 @ 21:33:30

      Jenny, did you see my responce to your 1st question? If not please see it under “About Me” comments. What store would u like to start couponing at? My advise is to start with 1 store. CVS is one of the easiest stores to coupon at. If you want to start there see my CVS match ups for this week. There are some FREEBIES you can start with. The candy bar is free after extra bucks. You will need to pick up a store week circular, u can view on line but easier to have it in paper form. Start with working one deal. Let me know the store and which deal you want to do and I can help you through it. Pick a store

      Reply

  4. Laraine Bruski
    Apr 17, 2014 @ 14:16:05

    This is a great explanation of couponing. It is confusing, theres no doubt about that. I like the way you put in simple language. I’m going to give it a serious try because, like many of us, I need to stretch my dollar farther. Hope I haven’t missed out on the umbrellas. Do you think I have?

    Reply

    • kidsncoupons
      May 26, 2014 @ 18:59:22

      Couponing is confusing, that is for sure. It takes practice but when you get it down, you will be amazed on how much you can save and hopefully not too crushed on how much you used to spend on things like toothpaste (one of the easiest products to get for FREE). It took me about 3 months to really feel comfortable couponing. I starting doing coupon match ups for a very large coupon site, covering Save Mart, and decided to try a blog of my own. Happy couponing

      Reply

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