There are several different ways to start a nice stash of coupons. I started out initially just getting one copy of the local newspaper each Sunday. Then, I realized my husband’s office got the Sunday paper and were (shock!) throwing the coupons away!!! Obviously he started grabbing those for me. Then I got really lucky, and both my father & father-in-law started sending me coupons from their papers.
(This makes absolutely no sense because they often spend almost as much in shipping as I would on buying extra papers, but they love me and realize that coupons make me very happy! The great part about this is that they’re both in different newspaper markets and often get coupons that aren’t distributed in my area. So if you have a family member who’s willing to save them up and send them to you once a month it might be worth the work!)
Next, I slowly started printing coupons. At first it was a hassle. It was a pain to register for all the different sites that have coupons, and I hated passing on some of the information (i.e. name, dob, address) to people I didn’t know. However, I did start signing up for coupons from companies that I felt were reputable i.e. Coupons.com, Red Plum, and Smart Source. I also only signed up for companies that I found through couponing blogs that I felt confident about. After reading lots of great deal finding blogs, I kind of got to know the blogger, and if they felt safe posting the coupon link I generally trusted their judgement.
(All that being said, don’t ever sign up for a coupon if the deal doesn’t sound quite right to you. Use your common sense and discernment to choose reputable sites to register on when hunting down deals!)
Also, I came up with inexpensive ways to print coupons. First, I watched for deals to stock up on paper (back-to-school season is great for this – Staples has paper for $.01 after Easy Saver rebate through 8/18/10!) I also started hunting down deals on printer cartridges and cartridge refills. The best deal I’ve found lately is through Walgreens. They offer ink jet refills for $12.99 all the time, and run some kind of discount on that about once a month, for up to 50% off. (There are probably less expensive ways to get refills & ink cartridges out there, but it’s just so easy to run it into Walgreens, and a lot of times they fill it for me while I wait).
Finally, I started signing up for certain coupons through the mail. If companies like General Mills, Nabisco, or Suave had a deal to send, I hurried over to their sites to register for the coupon. I’ve also registered for all the Publix’s mailers , Kroger Mailers, and registered my CVS and Rite Aid Cards at their websites. So far this has added a nice little pile to my coupon box, and a lot of these are higher value coupons than you might find in the Sunday paper.
I’ve found that using both printed coupons and newspaper coupons works for me, but if it just seems like way too much work, just print the coupons as you see the deal and it will definitely save you some time! I’ll update the current Publix Print List each Tuesday afternoon for the following week, so you can get all the deals available with only printables (which adds up to a huge time AND budget saver!)
Stop back tomorrow when we’ll chat about basic coupon rules at Publix, and we’ll highlight Kroger and the drug stores throughout the week. Also, check out Basic Coupon Lingo , How to Organize Your Coupons, and my Super Cute Coupon Organizer, if you’re new to pinching a few pennies at your house!
After talking about how to organize coupons I thought you all might like to see my super cute new coupon organizer I found at Staples this week! (Actually my friend Staci found it, and when I saw her with it I just had to have one!) Check it out . . .
Isn’t it super cute? Because it’s so much larger than my previous organizers, I think I should be able to manage all most of my coupons in one place. As you can see I haven’t filed much yet, but I’m hoping to have a little time this afternoon to get it done! (My plan is to enlist a little help from my seven-year-old with clipping and sorting on Sunday afternoons.)
I’ve been trying to figure out how to order the tabs, and decided to sort them by order of my Publix store. Here’s the order I’ve got planned:
- Bakery, Bread, Deli, Produce, Orange Juice
- Cereal, Breakfast Snacks, Granola Bars, Syrup
- Baking Supplies
- Canned Fruits and Juices
- Pasta, Spaghetti Sauce, Tomatoes, Vegetables
- Snacks (i.e. cookies, snack packs, cheezits, goldfish)
- Diapers, wipes
- Meats (i.e. hot dogs, bacon, lunch meat)
- Paper Products
- Cleaning Products, Laundry and Dishwasher Detergents
- Stationary Items (i.e. pens and pencils, back to school, cards, wrapping paper)
- Dairy (Milk, Cheese, Eggs, Yogurt, Butter, Margarine)
- Nuts, Popcorn, Chips, Soda
- Frozen Foods
- Toothpaste, Toothbrush, Floss
- Shampoo, Conditioner, Hair Spray, Deodorant, Feminine Products
- Household Items (batteries, lightbulbs, etc.)
- Store coupons (i.e. $5/$50 competitor coupons, smaller pamphlets that I don’t want to clip, etc.)
Finally, I just have to share this with you guys, but if you’ve got a to-do list a mile along today, don’t waste your time reading – I was just too excited not to share!
Since I saw my friend Staci with that cute organizer earlier this week I have completely coveted her organizer (I know, really, who on earth covets a COUPON ORGANIZER??? ) Anyways, I went to three stores to find one, and every one I found was completely mangled or missing parts! Well, when I went back to Staples last night to look just one more time, the same lonely organizer sat there on the shelf looking pitiful (I’m not sure if you can tell, but it’s got quite a few scratches, EVERYWHERE!)
When I asked a clerk about a discount on it, he told me “Oh, I’m sure the manager would give you a BIG discount on that because it’s so beat up and we could NEVER sell it. He’d probably give you TWENTY PERCENT OFF!” Twenty percent off? Seriously? Obviously this guy doesn’t know that this penny pinchin’ momma is not too impressed with a measely 20% off!
Well, he asked the manager who went all the way up to 25% off. I almost left, but the very nice clerk (who really was trying to be helpful) said, “Well, let’s just see what it comes to with the discount”. The computer refused to accept the 25% discount, so he asked the manager what to do, and he said “Oh, just ring it up at $5?, a savings of 60% off the $11.99 sticker price. HAPPY DAY FOR ME!
Sorry, but I’m really excited about that organizer for $5, and to be honest, I’d have been happy to pay $11.99 if it hadn’t had so many dings! I’d love to hear if you’ve had a few minutes this weekend for a little organization, because I can sure use all the encouragment I can muster up around here! Happy organizing!
There are tons of ways to start organizing your coupons, and it takes a little while to figure out which system will work for you. Here are a few options I’ve tried over the years:
1) File and Clip Method: The method I’ve used forever is to store my coupons in two (cute!) boxes that are 8×11 and 10×14 (I found mine at Tuesday Morning). The smaller box holds any coupons that I get in the mail, print, or pick up while I’m at the store. Then if I see a deal I hopefully remember that the coupon is in there!
The large box holds all my Sunday coupons sorted by date. I’ve done best keeping this pretty simple – I just file each weekends coupon inserts in file folders and then place them on top of the previous weeks; so when I sit down to organize my coupons once a week for shopping, I take them out by date and clip only the ones I need. (Tip: if you’re unsure of the date on a set of inserts just look at the seam of the insert for date and newspaper info!) About once a month I throw out coupon inserts that are 4 months or older (sometimes there are coupons in those that haven’t expired, but I can only stand so much paper running around my house so I may miss a deal every now and then because the clutter makes me crazy!)
Once a week (usually Thursday or Friday because Publix runs their sale ads Wednesday to Tuesday), I sit down and print out my printable coupons for the sale that week, and write down which ones I need to clip as well as my grocery list. That night, with my kids in bed and my hubby watching a little TV, I clip my coupons. It really doesn’t take that much time, and the amount of money I save makes it completely worth it. On average my family of five spends $50 a week for groceries and toiletries, so I probably save $100 in the hour or two it takes me to plan my grocery shopping. Not a bad hourly rate for a stay-at-home-mommy!
2) Clip and Sort Method: Another way to organize your coupons is to clip all your coupons as you print or get them from the Sunday newspaper inserts, so that you can more easily sort through them when the new ad starts each week. A huge benefit to this is that when you get to the store you’ll have all your coupons right there with you for easy access, so you can find deals that aren’t necessarily advertised or shown on coupon blogs – your deals are all right there with you! I have stayed clear of this one because it just sounds too time consuming to me, however I’m about to slightly change my ways!
I have whole-heartedly been a fan of the “file-and-clip” method since I started couponing several years ago, but I am seriously considering making a change over the next few weeks! I’ve found that as I’ve gotten busier, I’m not as diligent to sort through my coupons and I’m missing oodles of deals because I’m overwhelmed by all the PAPER! So my plan is to attempt a very modified “clip and sort” method. I’m going to try to sort all my printables and miscellaneous coupons (I have them everywhere!), as well as coupons from the newspapers that I know I’ll use (i.e. high value coupons or items our family uses all the time). I’ll continue to file away the rest of the coupons by date so that if some random money making scenario comes up on a deal with an odd coupon, I can still sort through my stash to find the one I need! This is going to be a huge change for me, so we’ll see how it goes!
3) One more tip on coupon organization: Don’t throw away a coupon because you just know you’ll never use it! There have been so many times that I’ve been able to get overage on items that I would never normally purchase, but thanks to an awesome sale and coupon deal, I’ve been able to make a little money with those coupons! (A great example of this was a deal on Bayer Contour Meters last fall at Walgreens. I made TEN DOLLARS on a deal just because I hadn’t thrown out those Contour Meter coupons – CRAZY! I was also able to donate the Contour Meters, so hopefully someone benefited from my great bargain!)
If you’re really new to this and need a few coupons to get you started, check out these sites to start your coupon stash:
Be sure to also pick up your local newspaper Sunday to add a few more coupons to your pile, and in no time at all you’ll have coupons coming out your eyeballs like I do!
If you have an extra minute or two this weekend, organize your coupon stash! Whether you’re a newbie or an old pro, I’m betting it could use a little attention (I know mine can), so let’s get it together and start the next week off ready to go! And stop back tomorrow to see my new cute organizer (y’all are gonna love this!), and we’ll get into the nitty gritty of couponing Monday. Happy Weekend!
So now that I’ve shared with you that anyone can be a penny pincher, let’s talk a little very basic couponing stuff. We’re going to start at the beginning here (I’m pretending you don’t know anything, but I know you guys are way smarter than that!) I just don’t want anyone to feel lost before they even start out, and there is so much coupon lingo out there that can get pretty confusing! So here we go!
Do you ever look at a coupon site and think to yourself “what on earth does all that mumbo jumbo mean?” Recently, a friend of mine visited Passionate Penny Pincher and told me she was completely lost by all the ”SS”, “RP”, “DND”, etc. I’ll be honest, as a long-time couponer I often make the assumption that everybody knows what all those abbreviations mean!
Well, my fabulous friend (and awesome coupon-teaching-buddy!), put together this great list of basic coupon jargon. We use it when we teach couponing classes, and I think it might be helfpul for you guys! (There were even a few I had to brush up on!)
Basic Coupon Lingo
$1/1 = One dollar off one item
$1/2 = One dollar off two items
2/$1 = Two items for one dollar
B1G1F / BOGO = Buy One Get One Free
Blinkie = The little machine on the shelf that dispenses coupons
CAT = Stands for Catalina, a coupon that prints out at the checkout
ECBs = Extra Care Bucks (CVS Reward Program)
DND = Do not double
FF = FireFox (type of web browser, use to determine which link to print from)
IE = Internet Explorer (another type of web browser, use to determine which link to print from)
IPs = Internet Printable (Online printable coupons)
MIR = Mail In Rebate
MQ = Manufacturer Coupon
NED = No Expiration Date
OOP = Out Of Pocket
OYNO = On Your Next Order
P&G = Proctor & Gamble (Newspaper insert in Sunday’s paper)
Peelie = Coupons that found/attached on the product
Hangtag = Coupons found hanging from product (usually found on jars)
Winetag = Coupon that usually can be found hanging on bottles of wine
PSA = Price Starts At
Q = Coupon
RRs = Register Rewards (Regard program from Walgreens)
RP = Red Plum (Newspaper insert that comes out in Sunday’s paper)
SS = Smart Source (Newspaper insert)
Tearpad = Pads of coupons found in the store
UP+ Rewards = Rewards progarm at Rite Aid
UPC = Universal Product Code, barcode found on a product
V = Valassis Insert (Newpaper insert – RP & V are combined in some areas)
WSL = While Supply Lasts
WYB = When You Buy
YYMV = Your Mileage May Vary (some deals are allowed in some stores while others are not)
If you’re a totally new couponer I’d suggest starting to think about how you want to organize your coupons next (I’m considering changing my current method but it’s gonna be painful!) We’ll have a discussion tomorrow on basic ways to organize, and then Monday we’ll delve into the nitty gritty. (Aren’t you excited?)
I asked this over on the Passionate Penny Pincher Facebook page, but I’d love to know where you all are at in your penny pinching journey. If you have a minute leave a comment on these two questions:
- How long have you been couponing?
- Are there any specific areas of couponing you’d like to learn more about? (Hopefully we’ll get to all of them!)
Stop back tomorrow and we’ll chat a little more on how to begin couponing!
Have you ever seen the perfect coupon mommy as you’ve stumbled your way through the grocery aisles? You know the one I’m talking about – she’s got her cute coupon binder opened to the exact coupons she needs (organized by store, aisle, shelf, and product, of course. . .) and she even has extra coupon back-up prepared just in case the clearance bin happens to change the moment she walks in the door. I’m not sure who she is, in fact, someone reading this may even be her, but I live in awe of that girl.
Well, I’m here to tell you that if that’s not you (and maybe you’re just a little more scatter-brained like me), you can still do this couponing thing! If you saw me as I walked down the aisle you would never believe I actually knew what I was doing. (Some days I wonder if the people at Publix are so nice to me just because they feel sorry for the crazy lady with the coupons stuck in her hair!) I’m the mommy who clips her coupons just before a grocery run, wrestles a 3 year old into the Race Car cart (I HATE THOSE THINGS!!!), hurries to the bakery to grab a free cookie (for my 3 year old. . .not myself. . .well, usually. . .), and then starts to focus on the deals.
I pull out my crumpled stash of coupons (I’ve actually handed coupons to the cashier that have been soaked in day old sippy cup water), and start hunting down some bargains as quickly as I can (that cookie doesn’t last long, you know?) I can’t even tell you the number of times I’ve been chased down by kindly Publix shoppers who’ve picked up my trail of coupons, and how many coupons I’ve had to tape together in the checkout late because my kiddos practiced their scissor skills while I shopped!
Even though I tend to be a little organizationally challenged, I still can usually find a few deals (imagine that!) I think that once you’ve had three kids (maybe any kids . . .) those organizing brain cells are all but stomped to pieces, and it’s really hard to keep it all together. But I promise, you can do this!
So, over the next few days I’ll share a few beginner coupon tidbits that might help any of you feeling a little overwhelmed by the process. If you or a friend are contemplating taking on the coupon challenge, this will be a great time to start, and hopefully we’ll all learn a few things along the way!
And maybe you’ll turn into that really cute girl with the perfect binder, but don’t get discouraged if you don’t (it’s okay!): you’ll probably still snag a few deals along the way!
Stop back tomorrow for beginning coupon information, and this would be a great time to invite a friend who’s interested in pinching a few pennies to hang out at Passionate Penny Pincher with you!
There are some couponing terms that take awhile to figure out, and catalinas are definitely one of them. (I’ve always wondered where on earth that name came from!) If you’ve been wondering what a Catalina is (and how to make them work for you), check out this great post over at Time2Save!
Jessica and Heather over at Saving Money Living Life were sweet enough to share a guest post with me and I know you all are going to love it! I have lots of questions from folks about coupon “overage” and money makers (don’t they just sound fun?), and here are all the answers . . .
Hello Passionate Penny Pincher readers! We are so delighted to have the honor to be able to guest post for Laurie. You really are lucky to have found this blog and be reading how to save money, serve others, and enjoy some tasty recipes. We are Jessica & Heather from Saving Money & Living Life. We love to share our best money saving tips, share how we are learning to be domesticated as fairly newlywed wives and just have fun w/ our readers. We’d love for you to come join us on Facebook or join our linky party on Friday called Fabulous Friday! Fabulous Friday is a party for anyone to come share what they think is fabulous that week, whether it be a great deal, handy kitchen gadget or a pretty new outfit. Without further ado let’s dive into a little about coupon overage, shall we?
What is overage?
“Overage” is what sometimes happens when you end up saving more than you spend when buying an item with a coupon. The best way to understand this is to use an example:
Say you are buying a can of veggies that is on sale for $.75. You have a coupon for $1 off that soup. Since yoou are only paying $.75 but are using a coupon for $1, you actually make $.25 by buying that soup. This is also referred to as a “money maker”.
So do they give me the money?
This really does depend on your store. I’ve heard of a few people whose stores have actually given them money if they end up with a negative total, but those are very rare situations and I personally wouldn’t expect it to happen! The reason that these deals are so desirable is that you are able to use that “overage” towards other items that cost more money. If I end up with $2 in overage from coupons I am using, I can buy $2 worth of fruit and not have to pay for it either! You do need to be careful though to make sure that you buy enough for your total to stay positive, otherwise your cashier will likely panic.
Why does my store say, “No way!”?
Like most things involving couponing, it depends on the store that you shop at. Some stores will simply not allow you to get overage on items. They will either reject your coupon, or more appropriately, they will adjust your coupon price down. For the veggie sample above, they would adjust the coupon amount to $.75 to give me the item for free, instead of taking off more than the cost of the item. I usually see this more with Publix store coupons (with the LU #’s instead of the bar codes) than any other coupons, but it still rarely happens to me.
I hope this has helped you to better understand the concepts of overage and “money making” deals if you weren’t already familiar with them! Also, if you are new to couponing, make sure to check out the following posts:
Getting Started: The very first post on our blog with the bare bones basics on couponing
Coupon Lingo: Abbreviations we use in our posts that you may not recognize
CVS: Learning how to use the CVS system
Q&A: Questions from our readers