Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Beginners Tutorial on Couponing: Learning the ropes and finding resources!

If you want to save hundreds of dollars on regular purchases by becoming a thrifty couponer, read this tutorial to get started. I explain how to begin the best money saving journey you will ever grow an addiction to. Living on a budget can be easier and oddly, very fullfilling.

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Being frugal for us means minimizing ALL expenses. Groceries are an expense that often times gets put low on the budget because heat and lights matter too. Of course we dont starve, but everyone knows that when the money is short, the meals aren't that great! Couponing can change the quantity and quality of your families meals as well as the extras you would normally pass by because you just dont have the extra cash for it.

I have spent alot of time researching ways to both save and make money, and coupons are a true life saving resource in our house! While it can be time consuming once you get in deeper, you will appreciate your effort when you see how much you will save. This post will guide you through the processes of learning how to get started saving money with coupons.

Finding Coupons

First things first, your Sunday paper is full of inserts that should be a great start.
How many friends and family members do you know of that gets the Sunday paper, but would be willing to give you the inserts? You may even ask for them at your job if they subscribe.
Printable Coupons are all over the Internet. Find a decent source and print away! Ours are updated constantly so I would love it if you would bookmark our coupon page :)
Grocery Store flyers can come in your mailbox or you can pick them up in the store. They are also in your Sunday paper inserts.
Clipping services are also out there and can save you a lot of time when you want multiples of any items.
In store coupons can be found on shelves and displays, as well as on many products to redeem at checkout.

Organize and Decide

Once you collect all your coupons, you will want to organize them into categories that suits your chosen shopping methods. I organize mine by food, toiletries, individual stores, and expiration dates. Once I have my categories, I compare sales in the local grocery stores to the manufacturers coupons I have. Correlating sales and coupons will save you big! Also, when I don't have coupons for sales that week, I search for some online, and usually I can find some.

Store Coupon Policies

Its important to know how each store handles their coupons. 
Do they double or triple them? Many stores will double or triple the value of the coupons up to a certain amount. Let's say you have a .50 off coupon for steak sauce that costs $2.50. If the store triples coupons up to .50, than your coupon is worth $1.50 in savings. 
Do they offer Loyalty Cards for better discounts? Loyalty cards are free to get at individual stores and it allows you to recieve extra and better discounts at checkout than if you had no card. Some stores only offer discounts to card holders and other stores offer a bit more of a discount for those who have their loyaly cards. It is well worth the 5 minutes to sign up for any loyalty cards of the stores you may shop at.
Do they take printed coupons? Most stores honor internet printed coupons, but there are some that won't. Check your local stores to see if they do, so you are better prepared when you checkout.
Can you get cash back? Many times, extreme couponers save so much that the store will actually owe them money instead of having to pay anything. Walmart is a good example of a store that allows cashback. Winn Dixie does not allow cash back, but still you'd be able to break even and walk out paying nothing if you got the right mix of sales and coupons.
Do the stores accept coupons from their competitors? Many stores have began price matching which is finding an ad at one store for a cheaper price than another store, taking the ad to the other store and recieving a discount there as well; this is the same idea. Walmart will accept a coupon from another store and give you the same offer. Some stores will and some won't. Its necessary to see which ones will.

When you begin couponing, and start to get good at it, your first impulse might be to grab as much as you can because of the amount you can save. On one hand this is good, but as you begin couponing, you will see that although stock piling is necessary for more extreme savings, it will break your budget in the beginning. You cant eat papertowels (LOL). Take your time to build your stock, and the further into it you get, the more in tune with your stock pile needs you will be. 

If you find great deals on deoderant or toilet paper, get enough to last for a while. Typically sales and coupon deals are on a 12 week rotation. If you get to stockpiling, try just a few weeks worth at a time and in no time, you will be stocking items in rotation to last until the next great wave of that particular item.

Keep notes on regular prices so that you know what is a deal versus what just tricks you into thinking its a deal. Bigger is not always better, so pay attention to your savings as well as the cost per unit that you will see on the shelf. A little math and it becomes clear. 

Stay tuned for the next couponing tutorial and be sure to clip the coupons below to start saving!

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