By popular request I am going to be doing a series of couponing lessons. Lesson #1 will be the basics.
I started out by clipping every coupon, and I still do.
· My main source for coupons is the newspaper. I get the Sunday edition of the Lexington Herald Leader. Some people get more than one newspaper, so they can have multiple coupons, or they ask friends or family who do not clip coupons to put theirs aside for them. Another source for coupons is magazines. Always flip through your magazines for coupons. A great magazine to buy is the ALL YOU magazine that they sell at Wal-Mart. It almost always has $60 or more worth of coupons in it. It is cheaper to get a subscription for it than to buy it at the store.
· Now that you have all these coupons, you are probably asking what on earth do I do with them. You can be creative and come up with your own coupon organizer, you can buy one online, or you can copy mine. I bought a small index card holder, some index cards, and some sticky tabs to label my categories. You can separate them however you want. Just do what is easiest for you. I go through my coupons once or twice a month and get out the expired ones. My girls take gymnastics on Tuesday nights, so I normally just take my coupons in with me and go through them while they are in class. Work it into your schedule.
· You also may ask, “Why do you clip every coupon, especially when it is something you know you won’t use?” There is a very simple answer. If that item is on sale and I can get it for free with my coupon, I can donate it or give it to family or friends. My favorite saying is “If it’s free, it’s for me!”
Now, let’s talk about internet printed coupons.
· I only print coupons off the internet if I think I will use them. There are tons of sites where you can print coupons (www.coupons.com , www.smartsource.com , www.redplum.com , just to name a few). Almost always, you can print each coupon twice from each computer in your house. The sites recognize your computer, not your printer, so you can use the same printer with each computer. Our printer is wireless, so we can just hit print from our laptops without having to unhook everything. Lots of companies also offer coupons if you become a fan on www.facebook.com. Always check out the manufacturer websites too, because lots of times you will find great coupons there.
· It does take paper and ink to print these coupons and you may wonder if it is really worth it, but I have to say that it is. Office Depot and Staples have great sales at certain times of the year where you can get a box of paper for nearly free with rebates and coupons. Also, I always make sure that if just one coupon prints per page, I will rotate the page and print another coupon in the opposite direction, so I don’t waste paper. Also you may want to consider getting your ink cartridges refilled. Lots of stores offer great deals on that too.
Finally there are Digital Coupons.
· Digital Coupons can be really awesome. Here where I live the only store that we can use these at is Kroger, so that is where I do nearly all of my grocery shopping. Digital coupons are pretty simple, you go to the websites (www.cellfire.com, www.shortcuts.com, www.pgesaver.com, and www.kroger.com ), put in your information and your Kroger plus card number, and select the coupons that you want to load to your card. When you purchase those items at the store, the coupon will automatically come off. You can also use paper coupons on those same items. This makes for awesome deals, especially when that item is on sale.
· My only caution to you is to not load too many coupons on your card. Sometimes if you have too many on there, I have experienced that the most recently added ones do not come off.
My suggestion is that you pick a store to start with and not overwhelm yourself. The stores that I do are Kroger, CVS, and Walgreens. I normally do my shopping on Sunday afternoons, after church. I always make sure to check my favorite coupon sites (www.southernsavers.com, www.hip2save.com, www.stockpilingmoms.com, and www.faithfulprovisions.com) for coupon match-ups. Whatever store you decide to start with go to these sites, click on the store, and read up on that store’s policies and information. These sites are full of information for beginning couponers and it is how I got started. Don’t make this more difficult than it is, just have fun and save money!