Couponing 101

There are so many ways to be 23 and thrifty and atop the list is COUPONING! I'm not talking "oh I found a coupon for some frozen vegetables", but being a black-belt coupon ninja! Below I will list my summarized version of the method of couponing. Be on the lookout for an expanded series of this in my blog.

GET CLIPPIN': First off, you've got to build your coupon stash! There are two types of coupons we will refer to: Manufacturer Coupons and Store coupons. Sources for coupons include:
  • Newspapers
  • Internet Printables (,,, etc)
  • Coupons sent with requested freebies (these are usually dolla-dolla high value!)
  • Catalina coupons (long strip sized coupons printed at checkout)
  • Peelies (coupon stickers that are on products in store)
  • Blinkies (coupon dispensers in grocery stores)
  • Store coupons via weekly ads and in-store coupon books
  • Store coupons via store mail publications
GET ORGANIZED: Now that you've got all these coupons, you need a way to keep track! There is no numero uno method. I've tried about 5 and you gotta do what works for you. You want to have coupons organized in a method to where you can find them when pulling them for blog-posted "coupon match-ups" and also in-store for on-the spot purchases for a good deal/clearance sale on an item. Here are the top two winners:
  • Accordian coupon file
  • Coupon binder with clear inserts
I prefer the coupon binder with clear inserts. It takes time to clip and organize, but it gives you more room for categories, whereas the traditional accordian style coupon organizers only allow you 5 - 10 categories. Now I got completely thrifty with my coupon binder and used an old one-column/two-row cd case. (Who listens to CDs anymore?) I made some tabs, and sorted. It took me a while to figure out what works best for me, but hey. Look at that bad boy. It tells the cashier and the coupon scanner-- I mean BUSINESS! 23 and thrifty BUSINESS!

LEARN THE LINGO: I know when I stumbled upon my now favorite coupon blog and first saw a coupon match up, I thought it was some Mom who got her shopping list confused with a government classified document. Yogurt. SS 2-28. Q. IE. FF. Blah blah. Here's all you need to know in the universal language of couponing.

  • Q - "coupon"
  • IP - "internet printable"
  • IE - refers to clickable link to print coupon for those using Internet Explorer browser
  • FF - refers to clickable link to print coupon for those using Firefox browser
  • Bricks - version of internet printable coupon
  • SS - "Smart Source"- version of coupon in newspaper inserts/website printable resource
  • RP - "RedPlum"- version of coupon in newspaper inserts/website printable resource
  • $5/$30 - abbreviated version of save $5 on purchase of $30 or more
  • wyb - "When you buy"- conditionary incentive, etc.
  • OOP - "Out of pocket"- bottom line money you pay for goods

GET IN THE LOOP: Now, you can play old school and carry your coupon book with you in-store and see how you luck up, but that's like tryin to shoot a deer completely blindfolded. It ain't gonna luck up too well. You've got to scout out some blogs and follow their "coupon match-ups". These are like Cliff's Notes for coupon freshmen. Or, technology's blessing to busy hard workin' folks in this economy! Take a look at the sample, these match ups are crafted by coupon-whiz kids to make it easier on you! They tell you what store has what on sale for what price, how long the ad is valid for, what coupons are out there in past newspapers and online, and any other added bang for your buck to get the best deal!

Coupon Match Up Example:
  • Quantumatic Dishwasher Detergent Dispenser $6.99
    -$3 off Quantumatic “One Stop One Store” booklet (store coupon)
    -$3 off Quantumatic
    printable (use both makes it 99¢)
    (thanks Angela!)
  • Scrubbing Bubbles Sprayer Kit $7.99
    -$5 off Scrubbing Bubbles printable
    -$3 off Scrubbing Bubbles “One Stop One Store” booklet (store coupon)
    (use both makes it FREE)
  • Duracell Alkaline Batteries, AA/AAA-10ct, C/D- 4ct, 9V-2ct, $5.49
    -$3 off wyb $15 in Duracell batteries, “P&G Future Friendly” booklet (store coupon)
    (buy 3, makes it $4.49 ea)
  • Purex Laundry Detergent, 100 oz, or Purex Complete 3-in-1 20 ct, $3.99
    -$1 off Purex 50 oz + Kroger Home mailer
    -.35/1 Purex Natural Elements
  • Soft Scrub Cleanser or Gel, 24-28.6 oz, or Pads, 12 ct, $2.50
    -$1/2 Soft Scrub, any RP 3/07 (exp 4/11)
    -.50/1 Soft Scrub, any RP 3/07 (exp 4/11)
    -$1.50 off Soft Scrub Total RP 3/07 (if included)
    -$1 off Soft Scrub product printable
    (makes it $1.50)

And, technology has made it even easier to get the scoop! You can bookmark your favorite blogs and check them daily, weekly, or when the couponin' mood strikes. Or, you can have their daily e-mail blast of deals/freebies sent to you, you can follow them on Twitter, become a fan on Facebook, etc. It's that easy. 

GET COUPONIN: I recommend gettin your couponing feng shui together. It took me a month or so to get the couponin swing of things. You've got to learn the store sale dates. Wal-Mart's rollbacks are the most lenient, meaning you have the most time to score those deals (based on product availability). Target, Publix, Winn Dixie, and drugstores often base their sales on the week system. I browse the match-up often on Sunday, the first day that they begin for most drugstores/grocery stores. I write the deals that I want/have the coupons available for the week down by store in a notebook. From there, I pull the coupons needed to score those deals and sort them into envelopes by store. Sounds a bit more OCD than it actually is. It's helpful to have a list, my coupons organized, my binder handy for any more deals I see fit to score. It's also helpful to know how much I am supposed to pay out-of-pocket, as sometimes coupons aren't scanned (gasp!) or products do not ring up as advertised (double gasp!)

Stay tuned for more couponing 101!

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