How To Coupon


Let's face it, when someone says "I am a couponer" the first thing people think of is "Extreme Couponer". The t.v. show 'Extreme Couponing' has given all couponers a bad name in my opinion. When we go in a store with our binders and we are looking through our coupons, let's face it, we get some weird looks. People tend to think 'Oh great. It is one of those people.' Not all of us go to the extreme when couponing. I know I don't. When you use coupons, do not expect to get 200 toothpastes for FREE. You will give up because you can't figure out how to do it like the people on the show. All areas are different. All stores are different. These people are doing their extreme couponing where their coupons can be doubled. Here in Washington, we don't have stores that double but we have Albertson’s “Twice the Value” coupons, and these can be AMAZING!  These coupons usually come in the Sunday paper every now and then and they allow you to double any coupon up to $1.00!!  There is a limit of 3 per transaction. They also will round up any coupon to $1.00 on special occasions, no matter the coupon amount. That is a great time to use those $0.25 coupons. This is rare though. 
You can get the most out of your coupons if you use them during SALES! I use these websites to print out my coupons....

www.smartsource.com 
www.coupons.com
www.redplum.com

If you also go to different brands websites, look under their 'promotions' for coupons. I have also emailed companies asking if they have coupons along with my name and mailing address and they usually will send me one. Most of the time it is for a free item. I also get the Sunday paper and sometimes my towns paper. I will usually get a total of 4 -6 coupon inserts. You can also go to www.pg.com ( Proctor and Gamble) to get their coupons. If you print coupons from any of these sites, you can get a limit of 2 per computer you have. When your coupon finishes printing just hit the back button and retry. It will print another one. I have 3 computers wirelessly connected to my printer so I can get a total of 6 of the same coupon. 

You can use 6 of the same coupons in a store at one time if you are buying 6 items. Just remember to read the coupon. Some coupons have restrictions. 
If you want 6 items at the coupon price you need to have 6 coupons!

For example..I had 6 coupons for $1.00 off 1 crest toothpaste. They were on sale for $0.99. I bought 6 and had $0.06 overage that went towards the rest of my purchase. If you shop at Walmart I noticed that  If you know you will have an overage, you have to buy something else for that overage to go towards, or the register and the cashier get confused causing a LONG wait. 


What are Some Things I Should Know Before I Shop?

Like many great opportunities to save, there are usually rules and regulations associated with most double coupon promotions. They can include:

*Limits to the number of coupons redeemed per visit - The store may limit your total coupons used to no more than 75 (or another number) per transaction or day.

*Limits on the number of coupons redeemed per like item – For example, you can use no more than 4 coupons for the purchase of 4 particular breakfast cereals.

*Limits on the face value of each coupon used – Stores commonly won’t double any coupons worth more than a $1, or in some very rare instances, $2.

*Limits on the total (or doubled) value of each coupon used – The store may state that the total doubled savings can’t be greater than $1 or more.

****Make sure your coupons are legitimate!
Please read my blog post about FAKE COUPONS Here

Some other common restrictions involve the type of item purchased. Alcohol, cigarettes, lotto tickets, or some kinds of brand-name merchandise may not always be eligible for double coupon savings. Retailers may not always honor double coupon savings on clearance items or trial-sized products (like those little travel shampoos.)





"Stacking"

Very simply put, "stacking" means to use a STORE coupon AND a MANUFACTURER coupon TOGETHER for an item.


***YOU HAVE TO PAY ATTENTION TO THE TOP OF THE COUPON. NOT ALL COUPONS ON A STORE AD ARE STORE COUPONS. IT WILL SAY EITHER MANUFACTURER COUPON, STORE COUPON OR (THE STORES NAME) COUPON*** You can not use 2 manufacturers coupons for one (1) item.

Examples:

**Safeway has a STORE coupon (on their store ad) for Oscar Mayer Hotdogs for $1.00 limit 6 and you have 6 manufactured coupons for $1.00 off the same hot dogs. You will buy 6 packs and give the cashier the store coupon and all 6 manufactured coupons. You end up with 6 FREE packs of hot dogs. 




Getting the most from Sales + Coupons

Example:

**Campbell's Soups on sale for 10 for $10.00. Well I noticed that I had printed off coupons at www.coupons.com for the same product. The coupon is save $0.40 on 3. I have 4 coupons right now. Which means, I will go to the store and buy 12 cans for $1.00 each. Hand her my 4 coupons for my $0.40 off 3 cans. Price breakdown: $12.00-$1.60 (total of all 4 coupons)= $10.40 for 12 cans. That is about $0.86-$0.87 per can instead of $1.00 per can. 

**Smuckers Jam- on sale for $2.49 I have 2 coupons for $1.50 off 2 jars. I buy 4 jars at $2.49 Hand her 2 coupons. Price breakdown: $9.96 for 4 jars. $9.96- $3.00 (for my 2 coupons) = $6.96. That is $1.74 per jar instead of $2.49 per jar.


 Doubling Coupons


Double coupons are the same coupons you find in your local Sunday paper or magazine for everything from beauty supplies to food and diapers. When you redeem them at your local retailer during a double coupon promotion, the retailer will give you two times the face value of the coupon off the purchase of that item. 

Example:

You have a coupon on a bar of soap for 25 cents off, you’ll get 50 cents off your purchase of the soap. 
Mostly any coupon can be doubled, assuming that it is a legitimate coupon and the words “Do Not Double” are NOT printed at the top. (You can usually find any doubling restrictions next to the expiration date.)

It’s quite possible for the savvy shopper to save up to 100% on the cost of an item. A great example of this would be a bottle of shampoo that’s normally priced at $3.50. If the item happens to go on sale for $2.00 during the double coupon promotion, you could use a $1 off coupon to get it for free!


**All areas are different. All stores are different. These people are doing their extreme couponing where their coupons can be doubled. Here in Washington, we don't have stores that double but we have Albertson’s “Twice the Value” coupons, and these can be AMAZING!  These coupons usually come in the Sunday paper every now and then and they allow you to double any coupon up to $1.00!!  There is a limit of 3 per transaction. They also will round up any coupon to $1.00 on special occasions, no matter the coupon amount. That is a great time to use those $0.25 coupons. This is rare though. 

Even if your item is free after coupons, some registers will still ring up the total tax due. For the most frugal shoppers, tax can be the highest item on their double coupon shopping bill. Be sure to factor this in when budgeting!


How to Organize

This is the part that frustrates a lot of people. There are a lot of ways to be organized but which one is right for you? You may have to try different methods to see which one is easiest for you personally. 



1. Coupon Binder (My Method) 




For me personally, this has to be the most efficient way. 
Buy a big binder and fill it with baseball cardholder sleeves or photo sleeves. I the baseball and cardholders sleeve on Ebay which was a lot cheaper. The zipper type of binder is the way to go. You wouldn't want to lose those coupons you worked so hard for. Clip your coupons and separate your binder into categories. Label them according to your preferences. Think logically about how you go about the grocery store. You might want to separate by aisle, food group, perishable/non perishable, alphabetically, etc.
I have boxed foods, baking, beverages, bread and produce, canned foods, dairy, meats, frozen, breakfast, toiletries, etc. If you have more than one of that coupon or a couple that are just like it, then put those all in the same sleeve. 

ALWAYS take you binder with you! You may bring some coupons with you because you know you that there is a great deal, but there is nothing worse than going down an aisle and seeing something on sale for $1.00 and know you have a $1.00 off coupon for that AT HOME! Not all items on sale are listed in the ads from the paper. Keep that in mind! You never know what you are going to find. 
I have clear page sleeves that I use for the printed out Coupon Policies (more on coupon policies later). You never know when you may need to whip out that stores coupon policy and prove to the cashier that you are doing everything within their rules.

*Pros-
It is so easy to flip through and see if you have a coupon for something. Also very easy to see expiration dates.
Your coupons are cut and ready to go.
I keep everything I need in my binders (shopper cards, scissors, clips, ads, store policy)
*Cons-
Time consuming! Very time consuming. If you fall a week behind…you can expect to spend not double, but triple the time.

2. File Your Inserts

File your inserts by date: Every week, write the date on your inserts and file them in some way. In a filing cabinet, in a binder, on shelves… somewhere easily accessible to you. This is a no cutting method. You don’t cut the coupons until you need them.
You can also use different colored folders for the different insert types (Smart Source, Red Plum, P&G)
*Pros-
you don’t spend hours cutting and organizing your coupons
You only cut the coupons you use
*Cons-
you end up hanging on to expired coupons to keep the unexpired ones…can get bulky
Easy to miss a coupon
Usually don't take the whole box of inserts so you may not have a coupon for something on clearance that you hadn't planned on getting.



3. Coupon Box

You can do this in any size box. It really just depends on whether or not you want to bring the box to the store with you. If you do, you’ll want it to be smaller. Many people get a recipe box and file the coupons inside.  You can use a shoe box, an accordion file folder, hanging file folder box, some people use ziploc baggies!

*Pros-
You don’t have to spend time fitting coupons inside baseball cardholders.
You have your coupons all with you
*Cons-
This can lead to disorganization. Every week you have to flip through and find your expired coupons so your box doesn’t overcrowd.



Stores Coupon Policies

An important part of being successful with couponing is to always have the current coupon policies with you while shopping. This will also be helpful in doing your shopping list and figuring out where you are going to go and what you can and can not do. Some stores limit how many coupons or the total of all coupons per transaction. Some stores will limit the number of transactions a person can do in one day.  Knowing each store’s policy will help you save time and money!
The Krazy Coupon Lady has a list of different stores coupon policies on her website for your convenience. 


Catalina Coupons



What IS a Catalina Coupon? 
These are regular manufacturer coupons that can be used on products found at your store.  Usually they print out based on your previous buying habits.  For instance, if you buy a lot of baby items then you may get a coupon for $1 off Pampers.

The coupons have the store logo on them however in most cases, they are manufacture coupons which means that you can used them any store.  The only problem is that some stores will not accept them if they come from another store.  But, it certainly doesn’t hurt to ask.



Most Catalina coupons are regular manufacturer coupons and are for a certain dollar amount off the purchase of a specific product although they can be store specific coupons. Catalina coupons are triggered when you buy certain products or combination of products. For example, if you buy a package of Pampers diapers, you might get a Catalina coupon for a certain amount off Huggies diapers.

All these coupons are worth saving if you use the product, but the Catalina coupons that are most sought after by extreme couponers are the $x.xx off your next purchase Catalina coupons:




These coupons can be used to purchase anything from the grocery store on your next purchase which makes them almost as good as cash. Unfortunately, there is not a database of what Catalina coupons are available for what products at grocery stores making it difficult to know about these in advance.

If you are lucky and your grocery store is good with posting the signage (many grocery stores aren’t), there will be notices about Catalina coupons by the price of the product that triggers them. Upcoming Catalina coupons are also sometimes advertised on the Catalina coupons you receive so that you know exactly what you need to do to get them (for example, buy 4 boxes of kellogg’s cereal, receive a $3.00 Catalina). Catalina coupons are almost always limited to a specific promotional period of time, are specific to the grocery store where it was received (and thus can only be used there) and expire 2 – 4 weeks from the time they print.

Most grocery stores will not give money back if your coupons exceeded the price of the items you are buying. In certain instances Catalina coupons will allow you to make money when grocery shopping. For example, if you buy four boxes of cereal that are on sale for $1.25 each and your have a $1.00 of 1 coupon for each, you would pay $1.00 for four boxes of the cereal. If at the same time, there happened to be a Catalina coupon for $3.00 off your next purchase when you purchased 4 boxes of that cereal, you would pay $1.00, but get $3.00 for your next purchase meaning that you made $2.00 for buying 4 boxes of cereal. These instances don’t happen often, but they are fantastic deals when the do.

Another great thing about Catalina coupons is that they will often roll. That means you can use the Catalina coupon you just received to buy the exact same things and get yet another Catalina coupon. For example, in the above scenario, you purchased 4 boxes of cereal, paid $1.00 cash and received a $3.00 coupon off your next purchase. You could then go and buy 4 more boxes of the same cereal, use 4 more $1.00 off 1 coupons, buy $2.00 if fruit (or anything else you wanted, use the $3.00 off anything Catalina coupon and get 4 boxes of cereal and $2.00 in fruit without paying any money. Best of all, you get another Catalina coupon for $3.00 off your next purchase and can do the same thing again and again.

There will be times when a Catalina coupon doesn’t print. If you purchased the qualifying products and a Catalina coupon does not print, you can go to your stores customer service counter and they should be able to reimburse you. If they refuse or you don’t want to be bothered, you can call Catalina Marketing at 1-888-826-8766. Make sure to have your receipt handy because they will need to look up your transaction and once they verify it, they will mail you a coupon.



 Coupon Lingo

$1/1, $1/2: One dollar off one item, one dollar off two items, etc.
2/$1, 3/$2: Two items for one dollar, three items for two dollars, etc.
B1G1: Buy one item get one item free
B2G1: Buy two items get one item free
Beep: Sometimes the register will beep when a coupon is scanned to indicate that the cashier need to take an action, like entering a price.
Blinkies: Grocery/drugstore coupon dispensers with blinking lights
Catalina: Catalina coupon, prints from a separate machine when your receipt prints
CRT: Cash register tape, usually used when referring to CVS coupons that print with receipt
DND: Do not double
Ea.: Each
ECBs: ExtraCare Bucks, CVS loyalty rewards system
ETS: Excludes trial size
Exp.: Expires
GC: Gift card
IVC: Instant Value Coupon, Walgreens' store coupons found in ads and monthly booklet
MIR: Mail-in rebate
NLA: No longer available
OYNO: On your next order
OOP: Out of pocket
OOS: Out of stock
Peelie: Peel-off coupon found on product packaging
PSA: Prices starting at
R: Regional coupon, will be listed after insert date as applicable
RRs: Register Rewards, Walgreens' Catalina coupons
Q: Coupon
SCR: Single Check Rebate, Rite Aid monthly rebates program
Stacking: Using both a manufacturer's coupon and a store coupon on one item
UPC: Universal product code, bar code
Tearpad: Pad of coupons attached to a display, shelf, or refrigerator door.
+UP Reward: Rite Aid reward program
WYB: When you buy
YMMV: Your mileage (or manager) may vary, meaning some stores might give you a deal but others might not


Please contact me with any questions you may have. I am still learning but I will be more than happy to help you. 
































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