Couponing 101: "How Do You Do It?"
"How do you do it?" That's the #1 question I hear from people. That question is probably my main reason for starting this blog. I want to show people exactly how to coupon to stretch your dollar to its max and save on average 60-80% on EVERY SHOPPING TRIP you take. Couponing is really quite easy once you get used to it. If you are committed to doing the work and putting in the time, the results speak for themselves and the work is worth every minute!
Stockpiling & Shopping the Sales
How can you save the MOST money from couponing? Many people use coupons, but are they using them on the right items or at the right time? The answer is actually quite simple...
I believe that if someone uses a coupon, even on a full-price item, it's better than nothing! You are trying and are certainly going to save money. But to save the MOST money for your grocery budget, you will want to purchase items when they are at one of their lowest sale prices, pair up that item with a manufacturer coupon, and if possible, use a store coupon also! Learning what is a good sale price and being familiar with items' costs takes experience & a lot of note-taking, but this is where I can help you!
Enthusiastic couponers often buy multiple newspapers each week so they get multiple copies of coupons. When a great sale comes along, then you can buy more than one of the items because you have multiple coupons to use. This allows you to stockpile your pantry with items you need, when they are at their lowest prices. Never again will you have to run to the store to buy a bottle of ketchup at $3.50+ just because you ran out the day before! Instead you'll have multiple bottles of ketchup on hand, in your Stockpile, that probably costs you around $.50 each or possibly even FREE!
Through this blog I will show you which items are the best ones to buy each week. On Tuesdays & Wednesday, I post Weekly Sale & Coupon Match-Ups for Albertsons, Vons, Spencer's Fresh Market, Cookie Crock Warehouse and CVS Pharmacy. From my list, you can make your list and know you are buying items at their best prices.
And coming soon.... if you don't have the time or desire to collect all the coupons it takes to get these deals, I will be able to provide you with those coupons! And for the really busy person who cringes at the thought of grocery shopping, especially with coupons, I can be your Personal Shopper!
Get The Sunday Paper!
Sunday is a very exciting day for enthusiastic couponers! To a couponer, Sundays begin with getting a Sunday Newspaper. In my opinion, it is best to get a paper from a metropolitan area. On the Central Coast, the best papers to look for are the LA Times or San Francisco Chronicle. These have the same coupons as local papers such as The Tribune or Santa Maria Times, but will typically have more coupons & be a thicker insert. There can be anywhere from 1-5 coupon inserts in a paper each Sunday. Make sure you come back each week to Central Coast Couponista and I will let you know how many inserts to expect!
There are 3 major companies that put out coupon inserts in newspapers. SmartSource (SS), RedPlum (RP), and P&G Brand (P&G). Occasionally, you will also see coupon inserts from General Mills (GM) or other manufacturers. Most weeks, you will see inserts from Smart Source and RedPlum. P&G comes out once a month. In my Weekly Deals & Coupon Matchups, you will see me refer to these inserts with their initials listed above. If you see an "R" next to a coupon description, that means its a Regional coupon that may have not been offered to our area.
- Buy your paper somewhere where you can verify what inserts are in it before you buy it. I suggest NOT using those newspaper machines outside of stores to buy your papers. Buy papers from inside the store where you can make sure all the inserts are in the paper that should be in there. Gas stations & 7-11 are also a great place for papers. And remember, IT IS NOT OKAY to take the inserts and not buy the paper!!
- Go Early! Most stores put their newspapers out around 7-8am. Its not uncommon for the major newspapers to be gone by 10am!
Hopefully these tips will help you have a successful Sunday Coupon day! Happy Clipping :)
Make Sure You Are Printing Internet Coupons
Internet printed coupons are often higher value coupons that you will get in weekly papers. They also GO QUICK so if you see one you want, print it right then. Often they disappear after a few hours, sometimes even less. I try to post links to these coupons as soon as I see them to get you don't miss any.
You will definitely miss out on many amazing store deals though if you choose not to use internet coupons.
Once you start collecting coupons, it can be overwhelming to try to keep them organized. Most couponers use one of two methods: clip all or most coupons and store them in a binder or filing system OR keep the coupon inserts whole and store the inserts in a binder or box. Its best to try different methods and see what works best for you.
I clipped coupons for many years and it just became much too time-consuming for me. I recently switched over to a non-clipping method. I keep all my Sunday coupon inserts whole and keep them in a large binder. I use my Coupon Database to search for coupons when I need them, and it tells me exactly what date and which insert to find the coupon. Its super easy and fast! See all the details on how I organize my coupons HERE!
Whether you decide to clip coupons or keep your inserts whole, if you are looking for a Coupon Binder, make sure you check out the Complete & Stocked Coupon Binders I have for sale. They come ready-to-use with a variety of binders to choose from, categorized dividers, sheet protectors, couponing tips and even 3 recent coupon inserts. Everything is made and ready for you to use!
Sign Up For Digital e-Coupons & Money-Back Apps
Some of the best e-coupon sites that work in our area are:
1. Ibotta: This is an app for iPhone or Android. You can earn money just by shopping for the products you are already buying and by taking polls, reading, or watching videos! Its my new favorite way to save!! There are lots of coupons in every category you can imagine. You simply buy an item (which you can buy on sale with a manufacturer coupon also to save even more!), scan your receipt, submit it and the coupon value is added to your account. Whenever you choose, you can donate the money earned to a charity or into your PayPal account!! Currently can be used with Vons, Target, Walmart, CVS, Ralphs, Walgreens, 7-11 and more!
2. Endorse is the simple way to get cash back for buying your favorite brands in stores. Endorse gives you personalized offers for up to 100% cash back on all your favorite brands, in any store.
3. SavingStar.com: This site works like a cash-back rewards program. Instead of getting a dollar amount off of an item you buy at checkout, the savings amount is added to your account and then after you reach at least $5, you can have the money deposited into a bank account, PayPal account or gift card of your choice. This site works with Albertsons, Ralphs, CVS and RiteAid in our area.
4. PGESaver.com: This is an e-coupons site for Procter & Gamble products. Here you load P&G product coupons to your club cards and then discount comes off at checkout. This site works with Vons & Ralphs in our area.
5. Shortcuts.com: This is an e-coupons site for grocery, household & toiletries items. The coupons are loaded to your club card and then the discounts come off at checkout. This site works with Ralphs & Food4Less in our area.
Lots of stores are beginning to offer e-coupon (digital coupons) through their websites.
Avenu (SaveAtAlbertsons.com): This is an Albertsons only e-coupon site that loads coupons to your club card and comes off at checkout.
In our area, Vons is definitely the current leader in e-coupons via their site with their new Just For U program. I've posted in detail exactly how Just for U works HERE, but in summary, you just go register for an account, enter your club card number during the registration process and then take advantage of these 3 options:
1. Digital Coupon Center:
- There are digital manufacturer coupons and some store coupons available for you to add to your Vons card. When you add digital coupons and purchase these items, the coupons comes off automatically! Also listed in here are digital "Store Coupons" for special items. For instance, there is one for Oscar Meyer Franks for $2.49. Select that Store Coupon and you can buy that item for $2.49! It just like the Store Coupons that you clip out of the weekly flier but these are digital. And the best part... there are MANY Store Coupons available online that aren't available in the flier!
2. Personalized Deals:
- These are MORE Store Coupons that you can load to your card. They are for set prices on certain items. Apparently Vons tries to personalize it to items you might buy from your history of purchases. On there they compare their Personalized Price to Vons' regular price or even sometimes Walmart's price! Many of the deals are great! I just checked my Personalized and found a Store Coupon for FREE LUCERNE EGGS! Sure, I'll take it!
3. Your Club Specials:
- This is very cool! By using your shopping history, they show you the current price of items you buy often. Everyone's specials will be different but this is great if are curious of the price of an item you buy at Vons often!
Use my Weekly Store Deals & Coupon Matchups
Each Wednesday, new grocery store sales begin so I post all of the best deals at lots of local stores along with any coupons you can matchup with those deals. Click on the STORE DEALS tab above to see all the stores that I post deals for. Each Wednesday, simply choose the store(s) you want to shop, click the STORE DEALS tab and see my Weekly Matchups. Remember, our goal as couponers is to stock up on items you use at their very lowest prices, along with a coupon. We have to change our thinking from buying items we NEED to buying items because they are at their lowest stock-up price, and then add them in our stockpiles or freezer. It seems the items we need are never on sale when we need them, so by stockpiling when items are at their lowest prices, you will need very few items each week. In my matchups, I've labeled those items at "Stock Up Price". Its best to buy mostly "Stock-Up Price" items, some "Great Price" items and just a few "Good Price" items. You'll save the most that way!
I know this is a lot of information, but I hope this helps give you an idea of how couponing really works. Its definitely more work than just clipping coupons once a week, but its worth every second when you come home from shopping and have saved 60-75% on average with every shopping trip you take!