Mama B’s Coupon Basics
I just learned the ropes of coupons 8 months ago. I’m no pro to say the least but I get the job done on saving my family plenty of money plus got a good stockpile going and learned how to CVS to get free stuff. Want to learn to CVS? You can check that out here.
Where to begin?
Start collecting your coupons.
1. Inserts from the Sunday paper. Inserts that come in the Sunday paper are the RP- Red
2. Coupon blinkie machines. What is a coupon blinkie machine and where do you find them? The coupon blinkies are the little machines that you find in stores that have a red blinking light on them that you pull coupons out of.
3. Coupon Tearpads. Tearpads are stacks of coupons glued together that you can pull (tear) coupons off of to take and use.
4. Other in store coupons. Stores such as CVS and Walgreens have booklets at the pharmacy counters that have store coupons in them.
5. Peelie coupons. These are coupons that are found on specially marked products with coupons that you have to peel off to use.
6. Catalina coupons. These are printed coupons that come from the receipt type machine beside the cash register when you are checking out. Some of the print outs are just advertisements but most are coupons so check them carefully before you throw them out!
7. Home mailer coupons. These are coupon cards or booklets that are mailed to your home. CVS and Kroger are 2 main stores that send me home mailers but individual product companies send these out as well.
8. Printable coupons. There are lots of coupons that you can get from the comfort of home. Where can you find printable coupons? I use:
· Everyday Eating
· Health Zone 365
· Malt O Meal
· Mambo Sprouts
9. Electronic card/phone loadable coupons also known as e-coupons. These are coupons that you can load to your Kroger card or load to your cell phone. E-coupons can be found:
· P&G eSaver
10. Magazines and other papers. My favorite magazine for coupons is the All You magazine. You can either buy a subscription online or you can buy them at your local Wal-Mart. I check all of my magazines for coupons just b/c you never know what you may find. CVS sells the Reinventing Beauty magazine for $0.99 and has a a decent amount of coupons in it for what you pay for it.
Sorting your coupons
There are many methods for sorting your coupons. I personally use the coupon binder. You can find my post on that here. This is what works for me. It may not be what you need. So experiment with what works for you. What are some sorting methods?
· The Binder method with baseball card holders (or CD holders). I have dividers for each section. I divide them basically like the aisles of a grocery store would have the items on the shelf. I wil have up a Coupon Binder how to up soon as well.
· If you’re just starting out you can try the Coupon File. When I started I bought mine for $1 at Big Lots. It only took me a couple weeks and then I had to upgrade because I had all ready accumulated too many coupons for it.
· The coupon Box. The Thrifty Mama and Money Saving Mom both recommend this option. It didn’t work for me but it may be what you need. You find yourself a small bin that will fit in the front seat of a grocery cart. Take a box of regular mailing envelopes and cut the flaps off. Take an index card and write your label category on it and file your coupons the way you want.
Know your coupon policies
Each store chain has its own coupon policy. Make sure you know what each store does/doesn’t allow. You can call or go by the CS (customer service) desk and ask about the store coupon policy. Questions you should ask:
· Do they accept coupons? Some stores accept store coupons only. Big Lots is a good example of this. Because they all ready have “such low prices” they do not accept any manufacturer coupons.
· Do they double/triple coupons? If so up to how much? Stores such as Kroger and Harris Teeter double(sometimes triple) coupons. Most double up to $0.50. Kmart has sales some weeks that they do “Super Doubles” where any coupon up to $2 will double but you are limited to the number of coupons you can use.
· Do they accept Internet printed coupons? CVS has no issues with taking internet printed coupons. Kroger stores in my area are different. All of them but 1 only allow you to use 2 IP (internet printed) coupons per transaction. The 1 store that is different allows you to use 1 IP per item but it cant be combined with another manufacturer coupon.
· Do they allow stacking of coupons? Stacking 2 coupons means that you can use a regular manufacturer coupon with a coupon from a specific store. Stores that allow this include Target and Food Lion.
Knowing the coupon Lingo
Ever wonder what WYB or OOP or OYNO means? Here is a good list to help you wonder no more.
· AR- Afer Rebate
· BOGO- Buy one get one
· CAT- Catalina coupon printed at register when checking out.
· ECBs- Extra Care Bucks. These are just like regular money at CVS.
· EQ or e-coupon- internet coupon you can load to your store card.
· ESR- Easy Saver Rebate (the Walgreens monthly rebate)
· FAR- Free after rebate
· IP- internet printable coupon
· MIR- Mail in rebate
· MQ- manufacturer coupon
· OOP- Out of pocket (the amount of money you actually spend).
· ONYO- On your next order
· YMMV- your mileage (or manager) may vary. Sales or how the store allows things may vary store to store.
Now that you’re prepared what’s next?
Stockpiling- When something goes on sale and you have multiple coupons and you have the space to keep it, get it. Good stockpile items are paper products, toiletries, non perishable foods. 4 good examples of stockpile items that I have is toothpaste, toilet paper, feminine care products and shampoos. With the combination of a good sale, my coupons and/or using my ECBs from CVS I have been able to stock up on those items. Last I checked we had 15 tubes of toothpaste,100 rolls of toilet paper and 20 bottles of shampoo. All for near nothing out of pocket or free.
Shop clearance or markdowns- Coupons can be used on these items as well as regular priced items, bringing your out of pocket total even lower. I check the meat counters at Kroger on Wednesdays. Most of the markdowns happen then. I check to make sure there are no browning spots on the meat and make sure the expiration date isn’t to close approaching and I buy what I can and take it home and immediately divide it up into separate serving sizes.
Buying in Bulk – Buying in bulk is not always better for you. If you can compare the bulk price to the individual price to see which way would actually be cheaper for you. Bigger isn’t always better. If you can get a better individual price with coupons you can use multiple coupons on multiple items to help stockpile.
Rainchecks- If something you wanted to buy is out of stock at the time you want to buy make sure to get a raincheck. You can come back later when they may be off sale and you can still get the items for the price listed on your raincheck. Rainchecks don’t expire so make sure to get it.
Now grab your local store ads or check the store ads online and start shopping and saving!