Couponing

   I used to think that couponing was kind of a waste of time, I felt that I could buy a cheaper brand if I wanted to save money.  What I am learning through trial and error is that when used correctly coupons can save a lot more than buying the generic brand.  All though I do not consider myself an "Extreme Couponer", I do have a stock pile of items that my family uses often.  And since I have started using coupons about 1 year ago I have been able to cut my families grocery bill by at least 50% per month, some months more.
  I have put together some places were you can find coupons and how to use them in combination with sales and even other coupons to get the most savings.  These are the things that I have learned through the last few months and I wanted to share them with you.  I hope that you get something that is helpful to you.


~FINDING COUPONS~

Sunday Newspaper is an excellent source for coupons.  In the Eugene/Springfield area that is going to be the Eugene Register Guard, and the Oregonian.   These papers do not always carry the same inserts, so you may want to check out both papers. These papers are full of coupons from your local department stores and grocery stores.  They also have inserts full of manufactured coupons.  These inserts are  Procter &Gamble (P&G)SmartSource, Redplum, and General Mills (GM).  I have 4 of the Eugene Register Guard delivered to my house.  Then I will go and buy 1 of the Oregonian and find out if they are carry the same inserts or not.  I may buy more if they are different.

Supermarkets are also a great place to find coupons.  You can find them throughout the store, some in little boxes that are on the shelves that "spit" out coupons.  Some on coupon pads were you can tear a coupon right off.  Some products have coupons right on them, those are called peelies.  Please be respectful and only use the peelies as stated, do not just take them off the product.  It can be very frustrating for other couponers who want to get that product only to find that someone has removed all of the peelie coupons to take them to another store and use them.  Some are to be used at time of purchase others will specify used on next purchase.  Some supermarkets such as Fred Meyer has a basket were you can leave coupons you do not want and pick out coupons you do want.

Websites/Blogs that you can find coupons for just about anything you are looking for.  You will find free printable coupons and also sites that you can buy coupons & inserts from.  Most sites will let you print of 2 coupons at a time.  If you have more than one computer at home than you would be able to print more.  Be sure to ask your store if they accept the printable coupon.   Grocery Outlet is a store in this area that does not accept any coupons other than their own.  Making photo copies of these coupons is coupon fraud and the stores can tell when it is done.  


Friends and family who do not use coupons can be another great source in finding extra coupons.  I have even asked my neighbors to save theirs for me.  Which they have been very kind in doing.


Manufactures will give coupons for their products usually just by calling and asking.  I know that a lot of fellow couponers/bloggers have done this.  I personally have not tried this yet, all though I plan on it soon.


eCoupons/Digital Coupons are coupons that you can load directly to your store card.  They are very convenient as there is no clipping, organizing, etc.  Just sign up your card and click the product that you are interested in.  The cash register will take it off automatically at the store.


Buying Clipped Coupons from websites like ebay, amazon.com, etc. are ones that you can buy.  You are actually paying for the persons time of finding and clipping the coupons, as it is illegal to buy/sell coupons themselves.                                                         



~USING COUPONS~


Coupon Policy It is always a good idea to print a copy of the coupon policy of the stores that you shop at.  Coupon policies do vary from place to place.  And surprisingly there are quite a few cashiers that do not know their own stores coupon policy.


Double Up Coupons The stores in our area that have the double up coupons are Albertsons & Safeway.  Albertsons double up general will come in Sundays newspaper, (not every Sunday).  You can also ask at the customer service desk for the double up coupons.  They are usually good Sunday through Tuesday.  All though they do run special every few months were they are good for 5 days.  Albertsons double up coupons are good for up to $1.  So if you have a coupon that is $1.50 off they will match it up to $1.  If your coupon is .75¢ then they will match it .75¢.   You are allowed to use 3 double up coupons in one shopping transaction. 
Safeway's double up coupons come out every Wednesday in the new ad paper and are good through the whole week.  They are good for up to .50¢.  So if you have a coupon that is .75¢ off Safeway's double up coupon will match that for .50¢.  You are allowed to use 4 of the double up coupons in one shopping transaction.  You cannot use double up coupons with store coupons.  They can only be combined with manufactured coupons.  If the manufactured coupon states no doubling than you cannot use the double up coupon with it.  Double up coupons are a great way to get stock up prices.  But since you are limited to how many you can use in a single shopping transaction, you will find yourself going through the line more than once.


Stockpiling  The way to get your stock pile is to collect multiply copies of the same coupon.  That way when that product goes on sale or hits the clearance rack you can "stock" up on it.  Since I do not know to far ahead of time what products will be on sale or clearance rack than I save all the coupons that I get.  (Well almost all)  If it is a product that I would never use then I am not going to save a coupon for it.  But if it a product that is not my normal brand I will clip the coupon because it may end up and sale, then I can combine that sale with my coupon and get a great stock up price.
                                                         
Stacking  When you use a store coupon & a manufactured coupon together on the same item, that is called "stacking".   A store coupon is usually found in the stores ads or sometimes in the store on coupon pads etc.  The store coupon will have the stores logo on it.  If you have a store coupon for "hot dogs" .99¢ and you also have a manufactured coupon for "hot dogs" .75¢ off, then you stack the 2 coupons to get the "hot dogs" for .24¢ that is a "stock up" price (for me).  If you throw a Double Up coupon in that transaction you will be getting the hot dogs for FREE.  This is were having multiple coupons comes in.  The deal is good if you get 1 package hot dogs for .24¢ to free, but  if you have 5 of the coupons then you went from getting a free package of hot dogs to being able to "stock up" on hotdogs.  Of course stock up items are a personal preference and when you are dealing with perishables only you can know what your family will use and how fast.  And it is up to you on how much you are willing to spend on an item.


BOGO FREE Buy 1 Get 1 FREE  when it comes to BOGO products not many people know that you can use 2 coupons with this deal.  If there is a bottle of shampoo that is $4 on a BOGO sale and you have 2 coupons for $1 off each.  You can use one coupon for $1 off the item you are buying and you can use one coupon for $1 off the item that is free.  So when the transaction is complete that is a total of $2 off a $4 purchase.  So you just bought 2 bottles of shampoo for $2.  If you throw 2 Double Up coupons into that transaction, you would get 2 bottles for FREE.


Rebates You can use coupons on rebate items.  So you get the amount of the coupon off, plus you get the rebate.  Then you have actually made money in the transaction.  If a bottle of Excedrin is $8 and along with it is a $8 mail-in rebate, then you get that item for free.  If you also have a $2 off coupon that you use, then you pay $6 at check out, mail in your rebate and get $8 back.  You just made $2 on that bottle of Excedrin.  



~ORGANIZING COUPONS~


There are many ways to organize coupons envelopes, boxes, file folders, and binders are a few that I personally have tried.  The envelopes are o.k. except when you are at the store trying to find the coupon you need.  Same with the file folders, they are great to keep them in but when you are at the store it is very difficult to find the coupon your looking for.  So like many other couponers I have ended up with a binder much like my Jr. High School kiddo's binder.  I found my binder over at Cash King for $4.99!  Which is a great deal, they generally run $15- $20 for the kind that I bought over at Walmart.   I have some full size sheet protectors that have my stores coupon policies in them.  I have a variety of sizes sheet protectors for my different size coupons. I have added dividers and labels.  There is also a pocket for my scissors, pen, paper clips and any other odd and ends.
I can carry this binder in the store with me have easy visibility and access to all my coupons.  


~COUPON SLANG~

  • AC-After coupon
  • AR-After rebate
  • B1G1/BOGO-Buy 1 get 1 free
  • B2G1-Buy 2 get 1 free
  • BLINKIE-In store coupon dispensed near product
  • BOLO-Be on lookout
  • BTFE-Box top for education
  • CAT/CATALINA-Albertsons coupons dispensed at register
  • MFR-Manufacturer coupon
  • GDA-Good deal alert
  • GM-General Mills
  • IP- Internet Printable
  • OOP-Out of pocket
  • PG-Procter & Gamble (Sunday Newspaper Insert)
  • PEELIE-Coupon you peel off product package
  • POP-Proof of purchase
  • SS-Smart Source (Sunday Newspaper Insert)
  • RP-Red Plum (Sunday Newspaper Insert)
  • RR/REGISTER REWARD- Walgreens coupon dispensed at register
  • STACKING-Using a store coupon along with a manufacturers coupon on 1 item.
  • WYB- When You Buy