I’ve always been in awe of the “extreme coupon” ladies, or men. They head to the checkout lane with carts full of items, a stack of coupons in tow and end up spending less than a tank of gas would cost. This past year I have ventured into the world of couponing. No, I don’t know if that’s a real word or if that’s how you even spell it. LOL. I would still consider myself to be a rookie in this field. So if you’re reading this, no, I am not ready for my own TV show. There are a few things I have learned along the way:
1. It’s not about what you need, it’s about taking advantage of a really good deal.
2. Couponing takes time and effort. Not only does it take time to cut coupons and research the latest sales, but in order to take full advantage of the process you must go to multiple stores.
3. You must step out of your comfort zone not only in the products you purchase, but also when you get the weird looks because you purchased ten of the same item at once.
Here are a few tips on how to get started:
1. Print out the coupon policies of all your local stores and get to know them along with certain terminology like BOGO, stacked, piggyback, etc.
2. Find multiple sources for coupon inserts. You might want to buy two Sunday papers so you have at least two of the same insert. Look for coupons in any local newspapers you might receive. For me “The Herald” is another source. Recruit family members to hold onto any coupons they might not need or want. You can also find people who will sell you inserts.
3. Organize your coupons. I have yet to do this, but some people suggest using a binder along with the clear pages that hold sports trading cards. This way you can see exactly all the coupons you have, instead of having to thumb through a whole stack (like I currently do). Recently I saw a coupon starter pack filled with sheets for different coupon sizes at Wal-Mart. I think I might have to invest in that.
4. Follow different websites or social media pages that focus on coupons and deals because they will save you a lot of time and energy.
So now what?
Each week I check all the websites and Facebook pages to see what the upcoming sales are going to be. They normally start posting stuff mid week. I look to see if anything is appealing to me and if I have the right coupons. I write out a list of all the sales I want to take advantage of and list them by store so I can also group my coupons. Some stores might have similar sales so you have to determine which is the better deal. I also read through the sales ads in the Sunday paper, just in case I find something not listed online. Some sales ads will have store coupons as well. Lastly, I venture out taking a few hours of my day visiting several stores.
So let’s look at a few examples of some of the deals I took advantage of.
In the picture below I purchased six bottles of Arm and Hammer laundry detergent. At CVS they had a B1G2 (buy one get two) sale, limit six per transaction. Each bottle costs $7.49. You might think $7.49 is a lot for one bottle, and comparably, it was $1.50 more than Target. But if you bought three bottles at Target, that would have cost $18, so already your saving money. CVS lets you stack coupons on top of their sales. That means you can use both at the same time. So I had three, $2.00 off two bottles of detergent coupons. So I paid $14.98 for two bottles, got four free, and used my three coupons for a final cost of $8.98 for six bottles of detergent. That’s around $1.50 per bottle.
Here’s another example. I bought eight bottles of Herbal Essence shampoo and conditioner at Target. Target had them on sale two for $5. So that’s a total of $20, Target had a store coupon for $5 off a $20 hair care purchase. I also had four B1G1 (buy one get one) free coupons, another $10 off. So my final oop (out-of-pocket) cost was $5 for eight bottles.
It’s all about combining the right coupons with the right sales. I hope you found this informative and helpful! Happy Couponing!