Sunday, March 29, 2009

Couponing 101 (part 1)

Are you just beginning?

Does it seem overwhelming? Most new things do. However, if you are committed to slashing the grocery/baby/personal care items budget, it is well worth the investment of time to keep as much of your cash in your account and out of the cash register.

To get started :

1. Begin collecting coupon inserts. Buy extra copies of the newspaper, ask friends, family and neighbors for their coupon inserts. There are two that come out nearly every week, Red Plum (RP) and Smart Source (SS). The Proctor & Gamble (P&G) comes out once/month. Occasionally General Mills (GM) has an insert. You can find out which papers carry which inserts here: hot coupon world inserts link

2. Create a file system to keep old coupon inserts. File them by Name and Date (i.e. RP 3/29). Often retailers publish a coupon first, then a few weeks later they put the same item on sale. Sometimes they work with retailers to offer cash back coupons that print out $ off coupons on your next purchase in that store when you buy their product. When these sales/promotions are offered you have several copies of the coupon for that item. If it is an item you use regularly (TP or paper towels) you will want to "stock up" at the lowest price possible to help keep your costs low.

Some people keep their inserts whole and only cut out the coupons they need as they use them, others find a more specific system helps keep them organized. Check out the Couponizer here:

3. Make sure you have store savings cards for your local grocery stores and Pharmacy (CVS, Walgreens, and Rite Aid). These cards often give you instant savings. Some store cards can have ecoupons loaded via the internet so you automatically get a coupon discount just for swiping your card (no clipping involved)! CVS registers print out Extra Care Bucks (ECBs) that are specific to your card.

More to come...