Still on my frugal strike, I took an interest in couponing. Despite having no direction or knowledge of where to begin – I took a BIG blind leap forward and went for it!
For the first 14 days of the new year, roughly about a total of 20 hours, I took time to educate myself, watched couponing youtube channels, read couponing blogs, reviewed store coupon policies and pinned on Pinterest! I also hunted down coupon inserts where ever I could find them, created a coupon binder and developed a weekly coupon routine.
30 Day Coupon Personal TakeAways
My first take away about couponing is this: coupons are a special form of money to help reduce the cost of basic everyday common items we routinely use such as detergent, toothpaste, shampoo, and food.
Secondly, couponing can also be described as a competitive Olympic sporting event!
In the month of January, I waddled out of my local stores with a winning Olympian frame of mind, where I earned 9.5 stars out of 10 because I scored anywhere from 50% to 95% off on all my grocery bills! Each time was a gratifying celebration, where I felt oddly compelled to proudly wave my store receipts in a patriotic manner in the Texas arctic air all the while, as Queen was majestically singing the studio version of “We are the Champions” blaring from my smart phone as his enchanting voice transcended into the wintery icebox wind!!
For all the years of paying full price on toothpaste and laundry detergent, I am hitting my head with a stack of newspaper coupon inserts…I could have easily saved so much money, and used a $2.00 off coupon match-up deal to score items for a cheaper price or even better FFFFRRREEEHHHHH ! Oh how my heart shatters with much regret!
My poor Jessica Simpson fake leopard print wallet weeps with deep sorrow! Ugh! All the money I could have saved, by now I could have enough money for a shiny glittery unicorn! Or a family trip to Disney Land!
To increase my chances of saving more money beyond paper and digital coupons, I downloaded these rebate apps on my phone:
- Checkout 51
- Receipt hog
- Savings Star
- Fetch Rewards
After getting home from all my shopping trips, I quickly scan my receipts into these apps…this takes minutes to do, and then watch the money pile up (over a course of time)…eventually after reaching a certain dollar threshold amount, I am able to redeem cash or rewards!
I especially like The Krazy Coupn Lady and Free Stuff Finder, because I use these apps as a reference guide to help find the best weekly deals in my area, and learn how to coupon match-up (store coupon + manufacture coupon) on store items.
In my local area, I have 2 Walmart stores*, Target*, Dollar General*, CVS* and Walgreens*. These stores all have apps...if you haven’t downloaded local store apps on your smart phone, you’re missing out on great sales, offers, discounts, and deals!
I am finding it beneficial to have these phone apps because I am able to:
- Review this week’s deals and get a sneak peak for next week days in advance
- Plan a premium coupon shopping trip
- Optimize coupon match-up deals that include clipping digital coupons and work out in-store incentives increase my savings
- Create a coupon spending budget
- Organize coupons by store, aisle, and price for efficient shopping trips ( I have to coordinate coupon shopping according to my boss baby’s schedule).
Most of these store apps have a *built-in price scanner feature*. You can go to these stores, scan bar codes to do price checks on infinite items!! I love this feature because you can score really cool treasures for cheaper despite what’s on the sticker price tag.
For example, if you see a candy bar at Walmart having a sticker price tag of being $1.00, scan the item bar code using the store app, it may actually be .25! That’s a whole lot of savings! And a whole bunch of candy…this is a sweet sugary bonus of a deal to get excited about!
Take the excitement to the store clearance aisles…you might find better reduced prices on items you NEED or have been waiting to price drop, and my favorite – coupon match-up on clearance items which can potentially score deeper discounts or even ffffrrreeeehhhhh! The potential is there, so scan, scan, scan!
Websites I saved on my phone home screen
Sunday coupon inserts
- Usually by Wednesday or Thursday of every week, I visit Sundaycouponinserts.com for Sunday’s newspaper coupon insert schedule. There are 3 coupon inserts available – RetailMeNot, SmartSource, and Proctor and Gamble. There is no-sign up subscription necessary to view this schedule
- Lozo.com is a free grocery coupon finder website. Per the website, it monitors hundreds of trustworthy websites and apps offering grocery coupons. When I prepare for my weekly shopping list, I like to have this website up on my laptop to look for more coupons to stretch my dollar EVEN MORE! If printable coupons are not readily available on this website, it will redirect you on where to get the coupons you want!
Store Coupon Policy
All coupon policies are not created equal. Get familiar with coupon policies for stores you normally shop at. Reading store coupon policies is very boring, and the language is a little complex at first. Initially, it felt like I was reading a page out of the US Constitution. Take some time to read thru various store coupon policies…and if you feel like you are breaking your brain, take a break, come back, read it 3 or 4 times again, but, out loud to yourself , line by line – eventually it will make sense. I found it helpful to do a youtube video search on store coupon policies for a better general understanding.
Sometimes store employees and management are not familiar with their own coupon policies – so if this happens, remain calm, pull out your coupon policy and go over it with them. Familiarizing yourself with coupon policies is your best defense to minimize the traffic congestion, eye-rolling awkwardness at the check-out line. Maintain your cool and keep a botox smile while coupon policy discrepancies’ clear up!
I have printed store coupon policies which I have neatly placed in a folder in my diaper bag – be ready to pull’em out as you need them.
Couponing can get messy really quick! So to keep myself from loosing interest or potentially breaking my brain from being disorganized, I invested in the following items:
- Binder, 2 or 3 inch wide binder
- Binder pencil case holder for writing utensils, a pair of scissors, sticky note pads, paper clips and a calculator
- Plastic subject dividers
- Baseball card holders
A coupon binder at its optimum health is when it is well maintained. Every few days of the week, I purge expired coupons, making room for newly clipped ones. Adding applicable subject dividers and/or baseball card holders as deemed necessary to keep up with coupons. This takes me 10 to 15 minutes to do.
Create a separate email address for coupon related subscriptions
I made the honest mistake of using my personal email for coupon related stuff! My personal email inbox was hot on the daily with coupon related news and updates…sometimes duplicates of the same email all day and odd times at night! I found myself going through my personal email account multiple times a day deleting coupon emails!
To avoid this headache, before downloading any coupon related apps, websites, blogs or youtube channels – because more than likely, you will be asked for an email address. I highly recommend to create an email address just for couponing related activities only!
Coupon Gathering Day and prepare for shopping trips
This day is also commonly referred to as Sunday! Every Sunday, before noon, I gather newspapers for coupon inserts, paper weekly store ads, and store savings books. My laptop and phone is close by, to pull up various coupon websites, and view email coupon newsletters. I expect to set aside 2 to 3 hours of cutting and organizing. I also make a reminder to check my printer ink and order as necessary. Thank goodness for Amazon Prime 1 day shipping!
After watching TLC Extreme Couponers, YouTube Channels, reading coupon blogs, all the way to the Krazy Coupon Lady and the Free Stuff finder, they all seem to abide by these 3 simple rules:
- Be patient – wait for items to go on sale
- Always combine or matchup a sale with coupons
- Don’t forget your coupons
- Review coupons and rebate apps for items you and your family will need
- Clip digital coupons
- Review local store ads for deals
- Do a price comparison for items in your local area
- Use a price matchup worksheet to find the best (lowest) price for the items you want
- Prepare separate coupons for each store – in a small envelope, file folder, pocket book
- Create a coupon budget
There is so much more that I have learned about couponing, but this is a long enough post…I will post more very soon!
If couponing is something you are well versed in and would like to offer helpful tips, tricks, hacks of the trade that you learned along the way,– I would humbly and gratefully accept your words of wisdom on this subject!
Or if you just started your coupon journey like me – lets learn together – share your brags, hang ups, and hauls!