So you want to coupon, Gamer style. Let me start by saying couponing for me is fun and challenging. There can be a few downs but there are a whole lot more ups. You probably want to know if it's worth your time and if you will save that much money.
Let me answer that by saying, if you only go to the store and purchase sale items, you will save at lease $40 off your weekly grocery bill. Add some coupons to that sale and you can cut your bill by half or more (my game is to aim for more).
You want to know undoubtedly - why even coupon? - Well that's simple. For me, it's the fact that Manufacturers spend millions of dollars every year to print coupons and most people do not use them. Coupons keep my pantry full and allows me to pay it forward with little or nothing out of pocket. ($1 or less items can be purchased and donated to your local food pantry or shelter). Oh and did I mention these are all brand, not generic.
It's embarassing - Whoa!!! This is a big one that I hear all the time and my question to you is WHY??? Why should it be embarassing to be a savvy consumer? Why should you be embarrased about providing quality food/items for your family without breaking the bank. I'll be glad to go shopping with a full price shopper, purchase the same items and then compare receipts at the end. Hey - that's an idea. The point is, I would rather spend a fraction of my earnings on food and other items so I can spend more of it glorifying God. Even Bill Gates - yes, the kajillionaire is frugal.
It's too confusing - Couponing is nothing to be rushed into and definitely do not take it too seriosly or you will burn yourself out. Just like with anything else, practice makes perfect. Ask questions and you will be just fine.
COUPONS - Now where do all these coupons come from???
Sunday Paper - I purchase my Sunday papers from my local store. It is $2 per paper, or you can sometimes get the bundle for $2/3. If you would like to save on Sunday papers, be sure to ask your local store what they do with their Sunday papers after Sunday. They might be willing to let you have them at a fraction of the cost.
Coupons.com - coupons.com offers several printable coupons every day. These coupons can be printed twice per URL and will display "print limit reached" when you have printed 2.
Smartsource/Redplum - Smartsource and Redplum, in addition to including coupons in the Sunday paper, sometimes provide coupons online on each of their websites. These coupons can also be printed twice per URL.
Other coupons - Coupons can also be found in magazines, store blinkies, peelies, hangtags
store blinkies - little coupon machines in various places around the store.
peelies - coupons found on products
hangtags - coupons hanging around a product
Coupons can also be purchased for a small price on ebay or coupon clipping services.
Let me start by saying, I do not clip and store coupons (not anymore anyway). You can find what works for you. I started with envelopes that were labelled (grocery, household, etc). Then I graduated to purchasing a binder with a few compartments labelled dividers and some baseball cards. I clipped/printed my coupons and arranged them according to the dividers. I quickly found this time consuming. I often go shopping with my kids and as you can imagine, they get restless sitting in a cart for a long period of time. I like to have my shopping list along with all the matching coupons so I can go in and out.
So how do I keep my copons organized and avoid clipping coupons? - I take out my coupon inserts, write the date on them (ex: 10/24) and keep them together in my coupon binder. When I get the sales ads, I match my coupons to the sales by searching coupontom.com. I then pull out the inserts I need, clip out the coupons I need and go couponing. Again, figure out what works best for you and go with that.
Once every two months, I go through my coupon inserts to check for expired coupons. I clip out the coupons that have not yet expired (it's usually only a couple), put them in a small envelope with the date of the insert (ex: 10/24) and keep the envelope in order with the rest of my coupons. This allows me to keep my binder nice and organized.
I also keep separate envelopes for each store I visit. I put my shopping list along with my coupons in this for each visit for easy access. This also allows me to keep track of my receipts for rebates, ECBs, RRs, SCRs and +UPs.
STORE COUPONS vs. MANUFACTURER COUPONS
Store coupons are issued by each store and can only be used at that specific store (except at stores that accept competitot coupons such as Publix). These coupons will usually read store coupons. Store coupons can be stacked with a manufacturer coupon and a sale to get the best deal.
Manufacturer Coupons are coupons issued by product manufacturers and usually read as such. They can range from FREE item to BOGO, to cents/dollars off. These can be used at different stores that accept manufacturer coupons and can be stacked with a sale and store coupon to maximize savings. The store will get reimbursed the face value of the item purchased.
I would like to stress the importance of couponing with integrity. By this I mean, follow the simple rules of couponing and you will be just fine.
1. DO NOT COPY COUPONS (each coupon, even if printed twice on the same URL, has a mapping id and can only be redeemed ONCE. Copying a coupon creates two mapping codes and even if it does not beep at the register, the store will not get reimbursed for it.
2. BE CONSIDERATE - I usually will only take 2 coupons per blinkie, giving other consumers a chance to have some. If I return to the store another day and there are still blinkies, I will take an additional 2.
3. ASK QUESTIONS - Be sure to ask your store about their coupon policy if you are unfamiliar. This will help minimize frustration if something should ring up incorrectly or the coupon beeps at the register.
And Finally - HAVE FUN!!!! Remember, it's a game and if it does not go quite the way you anticipated, just revel in the fact that you were able to save some money. It will get easier as you get more versed.
GET YOUR GAME ON & HAPPY COUPONING!!!!