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Couponing 101

November 7, 2012

I’m sure you’ve all seen or heard of the TLC show “Extreme Couponing,” where it showcases people who go to the extremes to get deep discounts using coupons.  Well, I’m not going to explain how you can achieve this but I am going to give a few pointers on what’s been successful for me since I started seriously couponing about a year ago.

It all started when my friend invited me to a Coupon Sense informational meeting where you learn how to use their website to get deep discounts using coupons and store sales.  I learned a LOT from the meeting and signed up for a discounted trial month.  I ended up barely using their website and just wasted my money (which wasn’t much but every penny counts when it comes to saving)!  I quickly discovered within my trial month that there’s a plethora of FREE sites which offer the exact same thing, sans the monthly $14 service Coupon Sense offered.  So after canceling (and dealing with their terrible accounting department which continued charging me after canceling), I was pretty fed up with them, to say the least!  I couldn’t believe that first off, people pay for this and second off, THAT PEOPLE PAY FOR SOMETHING THAT’S ALREADY FREE!!!  Long story short – don’t pay for a service to match coupons with sales when there’s plenty of free ones already available online – do a little research before forking over a monthly subscription.

I live in Arizona so for anyone who is local, check out www.thecentsableshoppin.com.  She’s local, matches all the weekly grocery stores, drug stores, and large stores like Target and Walmart, for yup you guessed it – F.R.E.E.!!  She also posts a variety of different deals going on, which is really handy if you follow her on Facebook too.  I’m all about supporting local so I mainly seek her blog for deals first.

Some other sites I really like are www.raininghotcoupons.comthekrazycouponlady.com and www.totallytarget.com.  There’s also blogs just for the organic type, www.organicdeals.com and www.survivingthestores.com.  The list goes on and on but these are my top favorites by far!  Of course there’s always the main ones to retrieve the coupons like www.coupons.com, www.smartsource.com and www.redplum.com.  Also, don’t forget to sign up to get deals from your favorite brands’ websites and follow them via social media too!

Here’s a few general tips about printing coupons online:

1.  Never pay to print coupons.

2.  Only 2 of the same coupons are allowed to be printed per computer IP address (in most cases).

3.  Set your printer settings to low quality, quick print, black and white to conserve ink.

4.  Try and use the most out of each piece of paper too – print multiple coupons, not just one and when necessary keep extra paper cuttings for scratch paper.

5.  Create a separate e-mail account just for couponing so that way you can keep your personal e-mail box personal.

In terms of how to organize your ever growing coupon collection, there are endless ways to do so.  For me, I’m a visual type of person, so I chose a binder method using baseball card protective sheets.  Some like to categorize their coupons in a large shoe box or updated organizer bin.  I also picked up an inexpensive paper cutter for when I’m cutting mass quantities (via staple to keep each stack of congruent coupons together).

Since I have a busy toddler I went with the prepare before you leave the house with all needed coupons and leave the binder at home method.  Then I will organize my coupons into sections of the store with my list that coincides.  I also carry around a mini coupon organizer for every day items I just might happen to find an unexpected deal when shopping.  As he’s getting older it’s becoming a lot more fun to involve him in our shopping trips by holding onto the list or something which makes him feel involved, maybe even rewarding him with a treat!  He loves cars so we usually go to the grocery stores that have the extended carts with a car attached, he’s in his glory as am I.  🙂

A friend of mine categorizes her binder in accordance to how her local grocery store aisles are set up.  One other method is to cut out the coupons from each insert (or skip the cutting til needed), place in a zip lock bag, and label which insert/date their from so that way when pulling coupons based upon the blog your following so it’s easy to locate.  Whichever method works for you, go with it!

As long as in the end you’re saving money (and time) by getting items when their on sale and at their deepest discount, then all is well on the wallet front.  🙂  Just be careful because it can get addicting getting things for free or discounted greatly!  I know there are certain things which I will never have to pay for again – toothpaste, dental floss, body wash, etc.  The list goes on and on!  (However, now I’m becoming more frugal by making my own toiletries and cleaning supplies, as mentioned in my homemade cleaning series I, II, and III.)

I would love to hear how you save money while grocery shopping or any other fun information we can all learn from!  Please share below and thanks for reading!  🙂

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