So we know I was in debt (ummm twice, cause i'm slow and didn't learn the first time). So I started using coupons to save money - to put toward the debt.
Here is our first topic on coupons...The Basics.
Couponing is an art...it takes practice, it takes some skill, and there's a learning curve. First you want to collect coupons - obviously you want them for things you already buy. If you're not brand loyal, you'll have a lot more coupons to take advantage of...somethings I really don't care about the brand (frozen veggies for example), some thing I won't switch (Heinz ketchup). First and foremost, if you are new to couponing, it's going to take some time in the beginning. You'll figure out a system that works for you and after awhile it won't take long and it will certainly be worth the money you save. Why pay full price if you don't have to?
I live in Central Florida - grocery stores here do not double or triple coupons. I am envious of couponers who live in states where that is the norm.
Where do coupons come from? Lots of places!
- you can print them online
- you can get them in the Sunday newspaper (most papers have a Sunday only delivery option if you don't want to pay for a subscription all week)
- you can get them on product packages (inside cereal boxes or fruit snacks, sometime crackers and fruit or jello/pudding cups)
- you can find them in magazines (most magazines will have a few, some - like All You - have tons)
- you can find them in the store ("blinkies" - the little coupon machines stuck on the shelves or freezer case door, at the front of the store with the weekly ad copies, "hangers" - tags found on products like wine bottles, or "peelies" - on other products like sauces or cans that you can peel off)
- you can find them in your mailbox (get on mailing lists, get store reward cards, etc)
- you can buy them from coupon cutting services or on ebay
- I run into store employees who don't know the coupon policy for the store
- I take the time to hunt down the policy, if I know it, the employees should know it - and I have no issue holding up the line and having the manager come over to explain the policy. Now the employee knows.
- Most stores will let you stack coupons
- Stacking means you can use a STORE coupon as well as a MANUFACTURER'S coupon on the same item. You cannot use two manufacturer's coupons on the same item...except at BJ's Warehouse Club.
- The rule at BJs is that you can use multiple manufacturer's coupons on a multi-pack item
Example 2 - a box of cereal has 2 bags of cereal in it, you have a coupon for $1 off 2 boxes of cereal. You can't use that coupon unless you buy 2 boxes of cereal (or 4 bags) because the bags are not bar coded for individual sale. If there are 2 regular size boxes shrink wrapped together, you could use that coupon. For the record, you can get cereal cheaper on sale with coupons elsewhere - more on that later.
- Target, CVS, Publix, Walgreens, BJ's Warehouse Club - these are stores I shop at regularly and I know that the locations I go to allow stacking. Sometimes you get a random manager that wants to over rule the Corporate policy. Did I mention you need to know your store's policy?
- Some stores have a limit on the number of coupons you can use. Sometime they don't until you show up with 100 of them...after that they come up with a policy :-)
- Some stores (CVS) require you to have at least the same number of items as coupons...even though they stack. Extra care bucks count as a coupon - just so you know.
- You can use coupons on free items.
- If it's Buy One Get One Free (BOGO) you can use a coupon on each one
- If it's a Buy This Get That (BTGT) you can use a coupon for each item.
At my last job (tech support for a statewide retailer) we had people on staff in the accounting department who did nothing but deal with coupons. The retail locations sent them in with their bank records, etc and these ladies sorted, counted, totaled, bundled and sent them off to the manufacturers in big batches for reimbursement. Then of course kept track of what was sent off and tracked down the stuff that didn't get paid so they could hunt down the manufacturer and follow up. Yep - that job does exist...coupon counter (ok, that wasn't their official title, but it was their job).
Some stores will give you the overage up to zeroing out your total, but won't actually let you go to a negative total and then pay that out.
YMMV (Your Mileage May Vary) that's pretty much a given when it comes to couponing.
Tomorrow - we will visit my coupon organization system...and touch on a few others that I know of...