It’s no secret that the one of the new fads among women, especially mothers, is couponing. Who hasn’t seen an episode of “Extreme Couponing” on TLC and wondered where one’s desire for this lifestyle comes from? Well, I have to admit I am the first one brag about a deal I’ve gotten from the clearance rack at Macy’s. So I can completely see the excitement these women experience when they bring their two grocery carts through the check out lane and only pay something ridiculous like $5…what a rush! I mean if you went to buy shampoo at the store and paid $7.00 and found out your friend purchased the same bottle for $.50 by simply taking 5 minutes to clip or print out a couple coupons, wouldn’t you be a little miffed you paid $6.50 more then her? I recently took a basic couponing class at my church to get my feet wet and start saving money on my everyday purchases. So get your pen and paper ready, you are about to learn some tips and tricks to get you started on your savings journey!
Now there are the individuals who put in 50-60 hours a week clipping and surfing online for the coupons that will allow them to have that kind of savings mentioned above. I am here to supply you with the basics, not how you can buy $400 of groceries for $5. The methods you are about to read should only take you about 2-3 hours a week to complete in the beginning and then once you get more familiar with the process you should be able to shave an hour off the total.
Where do I get these coupons?
There are several ways to acquire coupons.
- Newspaper – These include the weekly coupon ads like Red Plum or SmartSource that come in your paper. Both the “Orlando Sentinel” and “Florida Today” contain coupons and offer Sunday only home delivery for the year for cheaper as an option. If you’re interested make sure to visit their websites for further details. TIP: To keep these weekly flyers organized buy a crate and some hanging folders and file them by the date the coupons expire. This way you’ll know when you need to use them by and when to toss them to make room for the next batch.
- Internet – This includes the actual manufacturer’s websites, the store’s websites (Publix, Target, Dollar General, etc.), coupon flyer websites like redplum.com or smartsource.com, likes on product FaceBook pages and other sites that do the work for your like iheartpublix.com. iheartpublix.com is highly recommended because the woman who manages this site does a lot of the work for you…especially if you like shopping at Publix. Just remember to stay away from any site that asks you for your credit card information, you should never have to pay for internet coupons. There are some legitimate websites out there for this, but I would only do this if you have a friend that recommends one to you. TIP: When you find Internet coupons you like, print two of them. The websites allow you two print outs of one coupon maximum. Also, these websites go by your IP address to determine if you have reached your max of two coupons, so if you have multiple computers…think of the possibilities.
- Friends and Neighbors – You could ask your friends and neighbors for their newspaper coupon flyers if they don’t plan on using them. One woman in the class has 3 different neighbors of hers that gladly give her their coupon flyers. TIP: Most of your elderly people don’t really use coupons, so if you have some elderly neighbors, just ask. They would probably love the interaction they will receive by you stopping by to pick up the flyers once a week.
How do I use these coupons?
The best way to save the most money is to use both a store coupon and a manufacturer coupon together for one item. Most stores will accept competitor coupons and all stores take manufacturer’s coupons. If you’re not sure if the store you shop at takes competitor’s coupons, just check at their customer service desk. They usually have a coupon policy that they can give you for your records.
The best way to maximize your savings is to use the store and manufacturer coupon while the store is having a sale on that particular item. The easiest way to monitor this is by your weekly store ads that detail their products on sale, or by sites like iheartpublix.com. Sites like these are useful because they will tell you the item on sale, the coupons to use and usually where to get them by providing the coupon’s source or link to the coupon. It’s that simple!
Start out slow by keeping an eye on just a couple of products and learning first hand how the process works. You will experience the savings on a smaller scale and at that point you can determine how much further you want to take this new found “hobby!” Have fun and happy clipping/clicking. =)