Step 1 - Collect Coupons! I buy them with my Sunday papers. I buy two "bundles" which is 4 papers from my local Publix. Each "bundle" costs $3.50. A "bundle is two Sunday papers that did not sell on Saturday so when the paper delivery people come on Sunday morning they "bundle" all of the Saturday left-overs. In order to take advantage of lots of sale items you will probably need to collect coupons for 4 to 6 weeks. These bundles sell fast so you better buy them before 10AM.
Other ways to get coupons -
- Clipping Services - they sell already clipped coupons and mail them to you.
- Print Coupons from the Internet.
- Magazines - Lots of women's magazines have coupons in them but All You which is only sold at Walmart is one of the best.
- Friends and Neighbors - Ask them to save their unused coupons for you. In my neighborhood we get a free circular tossed on our driveway every Thursday that usually has a coupon insert in it and since a few of my neighbors don't coupon they give me theirs.
- Join or Organize a Coupon Trading Group - Maybe your church or PTA has one. I'm currently working on this for the Kennesaw, Canton, Cumming area... more info will be posted about this soon.
Step 2 - Organization! You need to come up with a way to organize your coupons that works for you. If you can't find them, you can't use them! I use a big zipper binder with plastic pocket dividers and clear baseball card holder inserts. I put them in the following categories - Frozen Food, Cold Stuff (like cheese), Grocery (which is everything else), Baby Stuff, Paper Products, Cleaning Supplies, Laundry, Personal Care (like shampoo and razors), Rx, and Pet Food.
Step 3 - Get On Line! There are lots of couponing websites but this one is the best for lists of sale items already paired with current coupons - CouponMom.com. It's not the most "user-friendly" because of all the darn ads (just my opinion) so here is where you should click -
- Create a login and password
- Click "login" (far right corner, blue square)
- Enter your login which is your email address and password
- Click on "Grocery Deals By State" (left side, blue square)
- Locate the drop down field on the right side of the page. It will say "Click the arrow to find your state and click GO"
- Choose your state and the store where you plan to shop OR pick one of the national stores listed at the very top of the list.
- Click GO
- This will open a list that can be sorted in several different ways - by the manufacturer coupon date, alphabetically by item name, sale price, final price (after coupon amount deducted), or percentage saved. I like to sort by percentage saved so that the best deals are at the top.
- Click the check box of the items that you want to buy.
- Click "Display Selected Deals" which will give you your list that will give you your shopping total.
- Print your list!
After you have printed your list you can match up your coupons. For example, the 7/24 Smart Source coupon insert had a coupon for Speed Stick Deodorant which is on sale at Publix until 7/28. If you bought a paper you may have this coupon so all you need to do is clip it and bring it with you. Keep in mind that coupon inserts vary by city and region. Some regions may have a coupon with a different amount on it or may not have it at all.
Another website I like is called AFullCup.com. Members can post their deals, trade coupons, and chat about all different kinds of sales. It's also helpful if you are just getting started or need to understand how certain stores operate (like drug stores).
Step 4 - Know Your Coupon Policies - Some stores double, some don't. Some stores will give you an "overage" (when the coupon amount is more than the sale price of the item), some won't. If your coupon is for $.50 off or less it's best to use it at a store that will automatically double its value. My local Publix, Kroger, and Ingles stores will double $.50 cent or less coupons every day. My local Target, Walmart, and drug stores do not.
Step 5 - Go Shopping! It's probably best to stick with one or two stores at first so that you don't burn out. If you're in Georgia I would start with Publix buy-one get-one free items (BOGOs) and Kroger's Mega Sale Events.
Extra Tips -
- Collect even numbers of coupons for BOGO items (I usually have 4 or 6 of each Sunday insert coupon)
- Only clip the coupons that you will use and file the rest. This will save you a lot of time! At first I clipped everything but after a while I figured out which coupons I use and the ones that usually get tossed in the recycle bin.
- Have your coupons ready BEFORE you get in the checkout line. I move all of the coupons that I plan to use to an insert page in the very front of my binder and when I put the items in my cart I put all of those coupons together.
- If you have any coupons that the clerk will need to write on (BOGO coupons), tell him or her in advance and put all of these items together at the beginning of your order.
- Stick to your list! You will save more if you avoid impulse buys that you do not have coupons for.
- DO NOT clear the shelf of a sale item that you have coupons for just because you can. This is considered rude in the couponing world. Be considerate and leave some for the next shopper. I mean really, do you NEED 40 bottles of hand soap???
- You do not need to build your stock-pile in 30 days. Buy a little at a time and watch it grow!
I'd love to read your comments and will answer any questions so please post them here. Happy Couponing!!