Feb 20, 2012

Couponing: The How To ..

Couponing 101: The How To's ...

Couponing can be a very scary, daunting task when looking from the outside.  How are people scoring items for FREE?  How are people making money on an item that is less then the coupon value?  I just don't understand how this works!  

This is what I'm here for.  I'm here to walk you through every angle of couponing from how to obtain, to how to organize, to how to understand all the way to checkout!!

One thing about couponing it is an excellent opportunity to try out new products you may have never tried out before.  I was very brand loyal before couponing and I was spending a fortune on my "taste".  Now that I have accumulated a stockpile of new name brand items, I'm a happy camper and still have money in my pocket.

Where are coupons Obtained from?

To be an excellent couponer, you of course need a handful of coupons!  Coupons can be obtained from the newspaper, magazines, doctors offices, and the internet!

  • I recommend purchasing a newspaper for every member of your family.  This is how you create a stockpile of FREE/low cost items!  You can either order a subscription to a newspaper delivery of a discounted rate or you can pick one up from your local store.  Live in California - Check out my deeply discounted Newspaper Subscriptions.
  • Be sure to view the Sunday Coupon Preview for the Newspaper HERE.
  • A great magazine to obtain coupons from is All You Magazine!  {You can pick up All You Magazine from Walmart or pick up a subscription through magazines.com
  • Doctors Offices are a great place to pick up coupons, especially for items such as medicines and lotion coupons.  Alway check out the area where you check in and check out, you will find an abundance of tearpad coupons and samples. 
  • Printable Coupons from the Internet are one of my favorite places to obtain coupons.  There are so many NEW coupons available daily and alot of these new coupons are high value.  Internet Coupons are found from redplum, smartsource, coupons.com and couponetwork.

Now that I have the coupons, what do I do?

My first word of advice, do not try to clip every coupon you see.  This will cause discouragement and frankly a big ol' mess all over your house!  Coupons are a great way to save on your everyday items.  You must treat Coupons like cash.  I highly suggest finding an organizational method that works best for you.  Check out some of these options!

Purge regularly. Expired coupons won't save you money, so don't let them hog space in your coupon file. Set a schedule for purging expired coupons, and stick to it.

How to Keep Coupons Organized:
There are lots of ways to organize coupons; the key is to find the approach that works best for you. 
Develop a filing system. I personally categorize my coupons by grocery category--dairy, frozen foods, deli, etc. in my binder.  It's best to find a filing system that suits your needs.  I have seen some people file according to grocery aisle.

Find a container to hold your coupons. The options are endless with this one.  Shoeboxes, baby wipes containers, ziploc baggies, binders, folder totes..
  1. File coupons the same day you get them. I have a storage tote that has a place for all my coupon inserts.  So the same day I get the coupons I file them away so their not laying around.. I can then pull the inserts out and clip as I need them.
How do I use a coupon?

I think this can be the most confusing part of couponing.  How do I know that coupon will work for the item I am purchasing.. I have gone in more detail about what is involved in the making of a coupon below, so be sure to read that.  When you obtain a coupon for a $x.xx off value you will head to the drugstore or grocery store.  The coupon will state Purchase 1 Beneful Dog Treats and save $1.50. 

While at the store you pick up the Beneful Dog Treats are they are priced at $2.99.  At check out you will hand the product to the cashier and then hand any corresponding coupons to the cashier.  The cashier will scan the count and said value will be removed from the $2.99 Price.

You have now purchase a package of Beneful Dog Treats for ONLY $1.49 after coupon.

Do not get discouraged if the savings seem low at first, it takes alot of practice and alot of detailed work to score the HOT deals.

I pride myself on finding you the best deals and matchs ups weekly but again I am only one person and only cover stores that I am familiar with.

What's involved in a coupon?

A coupon has a very specific detailed layout.  Each coupon will state the product name, size and quantity required to receive $x.xx value off.  The coupon will also include fine print which should never be ignored.  The fine print states how the coupon should be used.  Example only one coupon per transaction.  Every coupon has a picture of the product, or the "family" of products it may be used on.  Coupons also include a very detailed barcode.  This barcode tells the register if you are purchasing the required item or not.

Never try to be sneaky and use an expired coupon.  Although the register will not beep it is unethical.  The store will not be reimbursed for that said coupon.

For example:  A coupon States Buy 1 Swiffer Wet Jet, save $5.00.  So, you must purchase the exact Swiffer Wet Jet as stated in the product description and you will save yourself $5.00 at the register.  If a coupon states one per purchase, this just means only one coupon may be used per item purchased!!  You may never have more coupons then you do items, unless you are using a mixture or store and manufacturer coupons.

Sometimes a cashier will give you a hard time using coupons, maybe their having a bad day or they just hate their job.  Don't ever let this discourage you!  Always take your time at the register and make sure everything is going as you had planned.  

What most cashiers don't realize is that when their accepting a coupon for an item you had purchased, their not only getting the face value of that coupon back their also getting an additional $0.08 per coupon redeemed!

Internet Printable Coupons:

Internet coupons are easily printed right to your printer and ready to take to the store.  No waiting required.  Just print, clip and head out.  Internet Printable coupons may be printed 2 times per computer.  One very important rule: NEVER and I mean Never Copy a coupon.  This is a illegal, federal offense.  It is not only unethical but you can face prison time for such a careless act.  Each internet printable coupon is coded with a special veri-fi code.  

Email Account for Coupons/Freebies:

Whenever you get involved with couponing and freebies it can become quite overwhelming for your internet mailbox.  I recommend creating a FREE Email address strictly for all these items!!  Consider creating a FREE Email address through Yahoo or Gmail.

Heading to Check Out:

When you head to the store, with the intentions of using coupons..I recommend you plan out your trip previously.  Make sure you have all coupons in order to make it easier on yourself and your wallet.  When you have selected the items you are going to purchase with said coupons, head to check out.  You will always hand over your coupons before handing over any cash.  Coupons will reduce your total amount and it's so amazing to watch the savings!

Drug stores are much easier to coupon at and save money, it does take some time to get good/better at the grocery stores as many items don't have coupons..  Such as meats, veggies and fruits!

Stockpiling: Why should I do it?

Rule #1: We are not hoarding, we are stockpiling and there is a BIG difference.  Stockpiling is a great way to ensure that if an natural disaster happens or a job loss you have items to live off of that have been purchased at a very discounted rate.  Generally the easiest thing to stockpile first is toiletry items. Start clipping those coupons and matching them up to a sale.  You never want to clear shelves while shopping, but it is a great idea to snag a few items per family member.  Depending on how huge you can create your stockpile depends on your space available.  Someone living in an apartment may be limited to space, I have seen some stock piles as over the top as a whole garage filled.  I keep my stockpile to one cabinet I purchased from lowes and keep it in my garage.  This works best for me!! I store all my abundance of food in my pantries.  

A few great tolietry items to stock pile for FREE are toothbrushes, toothpastes, floss and medicine.  Right now at Target you can score 24 ct Ibuprofen for FREE.

It is very hard to stockpile on meat at an excellent price.  Same with veggies and fruits.  Some things in life will always be a bit more expensive.

I will always announce on my blog/facebook when a free item is available in store.

Coupon Shopping:

I find that Drugstores are the easiest place to conquer couponing and get your learning on.  Most drug stores offer incentives for shopping in their store.  The incentives are to buy participating products and walk away with ECB's .. Which is paper money that can be used on your next transaction or trip.

My favorite Drugstore is CVS.  I love the sale cycles and I find it the easiest to save my money there. 

Check out The basics of CVS Shopping  and FAQ's of shopping at CVS!

Be sure to always print a copy of your store's coupon policy, incase you need to relay something to the cashier.  I keep a current list of coupon policies on the left hand side of my blog.  Just click, print and go shopping!

Also with most drug stores and grocery stores there are sales cycles running every 6-8 weeks.  What this means is when you find an item at it's rock bottom price, the price will come back that low in 6-8 weeks!!  Which is normally when you must purchase the product again for your stockpile!! It's also easy to clip your coupons and set them aside for the next sale cycle, avoiding expiration of course.

A great way to snag good deals on meat/other grocery items at grocery stores without coupons is to look for the Manager Specials.  These are items that are near their expiration date but still able to be consumed.  These are selling at a deeply discounted price. 


Whoever said nothing in life is FREE, isn't a fan of mine!!!  All the time I'm scoring free skincare products, razors, body wash, lotions, lip balms, hair dyes, shampoos/conditioners, styling products, medicines, toothpaste, and toothbrushes ... you name it the lists are endless.

There are also the freebies that require a little work but the payout is amazing.  Check out How to score all the HOT freebies and all the HOT Birthday Freebies.

Coupon Lingo:  

In alot of my posts I use abbreviated words to make the posts shorter and after this list you will know exactly what I'm talking about!  It can be a bit confusing at first, but you will catch on .. I promise!

Blinkies: Manufacturer coupons deposited in a box near the item with a red blinking light.

B1G1 FREE or B1G1F = Buy one item, get the 2nd item FREE.

Catalina = Long Coupon that is printed at the register at check out.

Coupon = is a ticket or document that can be exchanged for a financial discount or rebate when purchasing a product.

Doubler Coupon = Store Coupon that allows a coupon value to be doubled at that store only.
ECB = Extra Care Bucks - CVS Cash for Next Purchase

FREE Item Coupon = A Coupon that allows a product to be 100% FREE.  It is still your responsibility to pay applicable tax.

GM = General Mills Coupon Insert found in Sunday Newspaper.

IVC = Walgreens Instant Value Coupon - Found in Walgreens booklets at front of store.

IP = Internet Printable Coupon.

Match Ups = A blogger will take a store ad and list all the items that are on sale and match them with the available coupons.  Match Ups give you the bottom dollar to spend on the item.  That way you don't have to do the hard work.  
I do match ups for Ralphs/Kroger, Albertsons, Target, Walmart, CVS and Walgreens!

MFG = Manufacturer Coupon.

MIR = Mail in Rebate.

NED = No Expiration Date.

OOP = Out of Pocket expense.  

Overage = When an item is priced less then the coupon value some stores will allow overage.  "Overage" means you will earn the additional money that was not applied to the item!  Example: Crest toothpaste is $0.97 and you are using a $1.00 coupon.  The coupon will apply to the register as $1.00 and you will have $0.03 overage to go towards other items in your cart.  At Walmart they will physically pay you the extra cash amount.

OYNO = On your next order.
P&G = Proctor & Gamble Coupon Insert found in the Sunday Newspaper.

Peelie = Coupon that is applied to the product your purchasing.

PSA = Prices starting At.

Q = Coupon.

RP = Red Plum Coupon Insert found in the Sunday Newspaper.

RaincheckIf an item is on sale and sold out, you can get a raincheck for the sale price. Raincheck’s don’t expire! 

Redplum = A place to print internet Coupons.

RR = Register Rewards are virtual Cash earned at Walgreens for purchasing advertised items.

SS = Smart Source coupon insert found in the Sunday Newspaper.

Smart Source = A place to print internet Coupons.

Stacking = Using a store coupon and using a manufacturer coupon on "one" single item.  Please refer to your stores' coupon policy and see if stacking is allowed.

StockpileIt’s the “pile” or location where you keep extra groceries and supplies for your house that you buy at a discounted price.

TearpadA pad of manufacturer coupons found near product on shopping aisles.  Tearpad manufacturer coupons may be used at any store, not just the one where you found the coupon. Tear pads are regional and vary by state, city, and store.

WYB = When you buy.

YMMV = Your mileage may vary.  Meaning one store may allow something and another store may not.

**I truely Hope this article has helped you in getting started or possibly getting motivated to use coupons.  Now find some coupons and start your shopping!!!

Any questions or hesistations please feel free to leave them in the comments post or email me @ addicted2savings4u@gmail.com.

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