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Monday, July 13, 2009

Getting Started With Coupons

14% of the average family's income goes to buy food.

In 2007, $387 billion dollars in coupons were issued. Only $2.8 billion dollars were redeemed. And most were buy the middle to upper class.

Coupons are a great marketing tool. A coupon is designed to lure a customer in. You buy X, you like X, and you buy X again... but this time you don't have a coupon. I am going to teach you how to outsmart the system. (You buy 4 of X when it's on sale and you have a coupon. It lasts you until X is on sale again and you have more coupons.)

Did you know that the average coupon is redeemed within the first 10 days it is issued and then it's thrown out. Stores and manufactures know this little secret! Often stores will wait to put the item on sale after the coupon has been out for a few weeks. The average shopper would of already tossed it, but us smart bargain hunters have 10 of them waiting to be used!

Getting Started - Gather Your Arsenal

The first thing you need to do when getting started is to gather coupons. You can't be an effective bargain hunter if you don't have an amazing arsenal at your disposal.

Here are some places to find coupons.
  1. You need to get at least 4 copies of the Sunday paper a week. This will allow you to get 4 of the great deals.
  2. Look for printable coupons online.
  3. Write or call your favorite companies and request coupons (see the 5 A Day program).
  4. Sign up for free samples! They usually have coupons in them.
  5. Look for coupons in the store. Check the different types of in store coupons out here!
  6. Buy coupons off ebay or from a coupon clipping service like TheCouponClippers.
  7. Trade coupons online with sites like Hot Coupon World.
  8. Ask friends and family to save their coupons for you.
  9. Look on product packages before you throw them away. Sometimes there are coupons!
Look for more ideas here!

Next, you need to organize all those coupons. Everyone has their own method. You have to figure out what is best for you personally.

1. Binder Method

2. File Box Method.

3. The Whole Insert Method.

There are some great coupon rules I'd like you to read here.

You need to save every coupon you get... even if you don't think you will use it. You never know when something might cost pennies, be free, or even give you some overage at the register. (Overage is a blessing, not something to be expected. If they allow you to buy an 89c item and use a $1 coupon and apply that 11c to other items in your order, be grateful. But don't expect it. Expect them to alter your coupon to 89c instead.) Once you have been couponing for a few months, you will know which items never go on sale and you won't have to save those coupons any longer. But for the first few months, it's best to save everything. (Just save about 4 copies of each coupon to save space)

Do not throw a coupon away until it has expired!

Things To Know Before You Can Save

In order to see true savings on your grocery bill, you can not be brand loyal. Brand loyal is only buying one type of a product, no matter how much it costs. It's okay to remain loyal to a few brands, but brand loyalty is one of the ways companies make their biggest profits. Don't be afraid to step out of your comfort zone! Your bank account is going to thank you. Plus it gives you an opportunity to try new things.

You also have got to get out of the "I've got one at home" mindset. I saw a lady at Publix put down a box of cereal that cost 1c because she already had a box at home. That box of cereal doesn't expire for 18 months. I bet she will buy another box in the next 18 months and I bet she will pay way more then 1c for it! You want to keep enough in the pantry that you know your family will not only want/need, but can also consume before it expires. The average family throws out $70 worth of food a month! You have got to be careful.

During the first month or two of true bargain hunting and stockpiling, you aren't going to see a substantial difference on your grocery bill because all the money you are saving off a week's worth of groceries is going to be applied to stocking your pantry and freezer with great deals. Once you've been at this for a couple of months, your grocery bill will drastically change. So don't get discouraged at first. It is truly going to be worth it!

This Is How You Save

Every week when the sale papers come out for your local grocery stores, you are going to want to base your weekly menu around what is on sale. If ground beef and pork chops are the cheapest meat of the week, base half of your week's worth of menus around that meat. And buy extra for the freezer! The same with fresh produce.

There are rarely coupons out for meat and produce (they do exist!). You need to figure out your best price for these items. My best price on boneless chicken is less then $2 a pound, for example.

Dry goods, frozen food, condiments, house hold goods, beauty items, etc etc can all be free with coupons. And they have a long shelf life! You will begin to build up a stock pile of these items.

Different Types of Sales

1. A Buy One, Get One Free Sale. - You pay for 1 item and you get an identical item free. They either ring up at the register at full price for the 1st item and zero for the second, or they both ring up at half price. Find out how your store rings them! At Publix, you can buy just one since they ring up half price. You can also use a coupon on both items. Check with your local store!

2. A % off sale. An item is on sale for % off it's normal price. Usually 50%.

3. A 10 for $10 sale also known as an x for $x sale. This is a major gimmick to get you to buy more. The customer thinks they are getting a great deal and buy the limit, when you could actually just buy 1 and still pay the sale price.

Rain Check

If a store is out of a sale item, ask for a rain check. You can return at a later date and still get the item at the sale price and you can still use your coupon!


The only way you are going to see true savings on your grocery bill is to stockpile the sale items.

When items you eat are on sale, you want to buy enough to last you until the next sale.

Normal sale rotation is about 5 weeks for dry good and 3 weeks for meat and produce. For example, Poptarts will go on sale about every 5 weeks. Buy enough to last you from sale to sale. If you have great coupons that make the item extremely cheap, buy as many as you can at that price.

Pay attention to the expiration dates! Canned food and frozen are good for about 1.5 years. Dry goods vary from 6 months to 2 years. Make sure you watch the expiration dates when you are shopping. Remember newer stuff is always in the back!

Things To Remember

Shop at more than one store but consider the cost of gas. It might cost you $5 in gas to go to a certain store, but if it saves you $50, it's worth it!

Save all your coupons. You never know if you might need them.

Expect to get things for free, but don't expect to get them for a negative amount.

You can only use one coupon per item.

Couponing takes time. But think of your savings as your hourly wage. When I got $245 worth of groceries for $45, it took about 6 hours total. That's about $35 an hour!

Using coupon makes you a smart shopper.

Coupons are like cash in your budget. The more you save on groceries, the more you have for other things like a trip to Disney!

Just because you have a coupon, it does not make it a great deal. Don't buy an item that you don't normally buy just because you have a coupon, UNLESS this item is very, very cheap or free.

The average family that uses coupons spends $4 more than the family that doesn't. This is because people think since they are using coupons they can throw in more impulse items. Make a list and stick to it!

When you are couponing, be confident. Don't let the cashier make you feel like you are stealing by using coupons (sometimes they do!). Remain friendly. You get more when you are nice.

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Great Coupon Sites

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