Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Couponing 101 Part 2

Sorry it's taken me so long to get this posted! I have bronchitis and it has made accomplishing my to-do list very difficult. Hopefully I will start feeling better soon!

Okay, I am going to be finishing up my how-to post on couponing. Last week I posted the first two steps, finding coupons and clipping coupons. In case you missed it, read that post before this one so that everything will make a little more sense.

Step 3: Organization
Once all your coupons are clipped it is time to sort. I have a big zip up binder for my coupons. I also have those dividers for each coupon category. Alisha (my cousin that taught me how to coupon) suggest getting dividers that have a pocket so that you can store rain checks and stuff that pertains to that category. Here are my categories, but some things might get broken into more specific sections.

Breads, Cereals, and Breakfast Items
Pasta and Rice
Refrigerated Case
Canned Goods
Baking Supplies, Seasonings, and Condiments
Frozen Foods
Household Supplies
Cleaning Supplies
Beauty and Hygiene

In each section I have baseball card sleeves to hold all my coupons. You can find these sleeves at Walmart by the pokemon and baseball cards or you can find them at Hobby Lobby by the models and collections. I looked forever at Walmart for them but they were always out and so I got mine at Hobby Lobby. They are $7 for a pack of thirty, and so I bought two.
Okay, so you've got your coupons cut and you are now ready to put them away. I sort mine into sections, so all my hygiene coupons are together and all my frozen food coupons are together. Then that way I only have to go through each category in the binder once. You may have to fold your coupons to get them to fit in the slots, but I try and make the product picture and price face upward so that I can easily what the coupon is for. I also separate my coupons by price. For example if you have coupons for $0.50 off a box of Cheerios and coupons for $1.00 off a box of Cheerios I put them in two different slots because even though they are for the same product it is a different value. If the coupons are identical they go together. Remember that I get four Sunday papers so that means four of each coupon and the same ones get put in the same slot. I hope that makes sense.

Step 4: Preparing a Grocery List
The goal of couponing is to combine sale prices and coupons to maximize your savings. The easiest way to find deals is to have someone do it for you! I use a site called Savvy Shopper. She pairs up sales from local stores and tells you what coupons to use to save the most money! I also like that she ranks how good the deal is so you know if you should stock up or just buy a few. If you live in Utah, like me, the best two sites I've found are Savvy Shopper and Grocery Smarts, and the best part is they're free to use! Each of those sites have more locations than just Utah but I know they aren't totally national. I know that there are some sites that do similar things but you have to pay for a subscription. I personally don't want to pay because my whole reason for couponing is to save money!
If you can't find a website that pairs sales and coupons for you, you still have options! Where I live the weekly grocery store ads come in the mail on Wednesday. You can go through the weekly ads and look for good sale items and check if you have a coupon for that same item.
Once you have a list put together you are ready to shop!

Step 5: Time to Shop!
I choose just to focus on one store. I choose Walmart because I can price-match. Price matching is when another store has an item cheaper than Walmart and then they will match that price. I like the idea of only having to go to one store. That is definitely a suggestion I have for beginners, focus on one store until you get really comfortable. Read up on the store's coupon policy, I printed out Walmart's coupon policy that I can make sure what the rules and regulations are. Often times you will come to find that you know the coupon policy better than the cashiers! Make sure you get your maximum savings! In my county Walmart doubles coupons up to $1 on Tuesdays. For example if I have a coupon for $0.25 off an item they will double it to $0.50 off.
Okay, get prepared to shop, make sure you have a detailed list of things you are going to buy. Bring your coupon binder, have a pen, etc. As I go through and put things in my cart I double check the coupon to make sure it is the right item. Also, once something is in my cart I pull out the corresponding coupons and put them in a plastic sleeve in the front of my binder then it makes checking out much easier since I can just hand the cashier the coupons instead of having to search for them.
So you've finished shopping and now you are ready to check-out. Brace yourself, checking out is going to take a lot longer now that you are couponing. I have some tips for you, choose a male or a young teenager cashier, they are a lot less likely to hassle you about your couponing and a lot more likely to let you do your process. Let the cashier know right away that you have coupons and or price-matches so they know they will need to make some adjustments. Also, it's polite to let the person in line behind you know that you'll be couponing and that you are likely going to take a while. They may want to pick another lane. I like to put like items together on the conveyer belt and place the corresponding coupons with them. For example, when the cashier gets to my four lotions I tell them the price-match price, they scan the item, and then I hand them the coupons to scan. This way when I can see the coupon take effect right away, and if for some reason you have trouble with a coupon it can be fixed immediately instead of at the end. That works best for me, you'll find what works best for you.
After checking out, celebrate! You just saved your family money! Enjoy! Once I get my haul home I like to take a picture of my items and email them to my husband while he's at work so I can brag. I also like to go through my receipt and see what my total savings is in both dollar amount and percentage.

Okay, I really hope you could all understand that. Again, please comment of email me at nksmithfamily[at]gmail[dot]com if you have any questions of you want to brag about your savings! Happy Couponing!

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