I love coupons. I can’t wait for the Sunday coupons to come out, and when I get a checkout coupon with my receipt, it makes my day. I know my husband gets sick of me saying “I have a coupon with that!” But, coupons have saved us a lot of money.
I first got into couponing in college. One of my sorority sisters was the daughter of a coupon queen, and her mom taught us all of her tricks. I’ve adapted them to fit my lifestyle – that of a busy mom. I am by no means a coupon expert. The Coupon Goddess is the ultimate source for coupon wisdom, and she has a great blog. This is more of an Intro to Coupons, or “Coupons for Dummies.” Hopefully it will help you get started with couponing. I will warn you though…couponing is addicting!
Coupon Storage: There are many different ways to store your coupons. I have done everything from a coupon organizer to a wrinkled envelope in my purse. My preferred coupon storage method is the three-ring binder. I buy pages made to hold baseball cards, and insert one coupon per space. Here’s a shot of my coupon binder:
|My coupon binder.|
You can arrange your coupons in whatever order makes sense to you. Sort them by type of product, or order them to match the layout of your grocery store. I admit, I have absolutely no system. My coupons are inserted at random and I do a lot of page flipping.
Here’s the most important thing to remember about your coupon binder: TAKE THAT THING EVERYWHERE! Keep it in your car if you have to. There’s nothing worse than stopping to pick up an emergency package of diapers and realize you could have saved $2, if you had just had your coupons.
Coupon Selection: Buy your Sunday paper, and clip every coupon. Yes, I know you never use that product. Clip the coupon anyway. There have been so many times I’ve thought I didn’t want a coupon, only to get to the store and see that I could have picked something up for free, or almost free. Yeah, I don’t use the product, but someone I know might. If that’s not the case, a local homeless shelter or food bank certainly won’t turn away donations of food or toiletries. Worst case scenario, you can always throw it away.
Don’t forget to save those store coupons, the ones the cashier hands you with your receipt. Store coupons are great. Most stores let you use one store coupon and one manufacturer’s coupon on an item, which means extra savings for you. Plus, those coupons are often targeted to the items you already buy, so they are almost guaranteed to be useful. More and more stores are also putting their coupons online, or making them available to be loaded onto your shopping card.
Coupon Use: This is my general coupon policy: I only buy something with my coupon if the item is also on sale and/or I have two coupons (store and manufacturer’s). Most of the time I am looking to get an item for at least 50% off. Resist the urge to buy something just because you have the coupon (unless of course, you need the item right away and have to buy it anyway).
Recently, Kroger had 72 count Pampers wipes on sale for $2.99. I had a Pampers coupon for $2 off, which brought the wipes down to 99 cents. I also had a store coupon for $1 off Pampers wipes on my Kroger card, which means the wipes cost me nothing! Waiting for the sale got me the best deal.
These are just some coupon basics to get you started. Post any questions you may have in the comments, and I will do my best to answer them for you. Happy couponing!