Couponing 101

Couponing 101: The 10 Most Important Facts A Beginner Should Know

1. Be Patient.
Its important to remember that “mastering” couponing takes time. You will not do everything right the first or even the fifth time. You will make lots of mistakes, but you will get better with every shopping trip you go on.

2. There is a start up cost.

At the beginning you will spend some money out of pocket. You need to plan on spending money on your organizational system (binder, baseball card sleeves, envelopes, box…) as well as for 1-10 Sunday newspapers. There is also the cost of buying products that you will be getting Catalina’s from, which you will use later to roll your transactions to get future transactions for free! For example, if you were to go to Walgreens and buy a product that is on sale for $5.99 with a $5.99 Registered Reward…you will have to spend the $5.99 out of pocket…but then later will be able to use that Registered Reward to buy something else that you may not have a coupon to get for free or for another product that will print out a Registered Reward. Eventually you will be able to continue shopping and “rolling” your transactions and eliminating your out of pocket costs.

3. Its all about your attitude.
I feel like one of the most important things to remember is that successful couponing is all about your attitude. Your stores and cashiers do not have to except your coupons if you make their job difficult. If they don’t believe that the coupon you are using it legitimate, you have several options as to how to react. first, you can ask to speak to a manager. Sometimes all it takes it talking to the person in charge, calmly and rationally. Second, you can kindly say “ok well I guess I won’t get that product right now” and come back another time or go to another store and see if a different cashier feels better about the use of the coupon you are using. Finally, you can chose to just buy the product and not use the coupon that they are uncomfortable with or use a different less valuable coupon.

4. Know your coupon policies!
This is another super important one! It is so important that you know your stores coupon policies.  Not just one store, but all the stores you plan on shopping at. One trick I have up my sleeve is I like to print out a copy of all the stores coupon policies that I shop at and keep them in my binder. This way if there is ever a question of whether I am following coupon policy I can refer directly to the stores current policy. I would like to warn you however,  stores do change their policies often, so you will want to keep your binders coupon policy printouts current. 

5. Read EVERY coupon you plan on using.
I can’t tell you how many times I have followed a match up on a blog or forum and didn’t take the time to read the coupon myself, and found out when I got to the store and tried using the coupon, that the coupon wouldn’t work :( Remember that no matter what blog or forum you are following they are run by people and everybody makes mistakes. I have also many times assumed that a coupon that seems to be exactly the same every month when it comes in the circular would be the same again. Then when I go to use the coupon it has a new exception to it and will no longer work for the deal I am trying to get.

6. Don’t try to build your stockpile over night.
I know it looks appealing to have a large stockpile….but realize that a stockpile takes time to build. The best way to build a stockpile is to buy enough of the product that you want to last you until the next sale cycle.  Stores and products have sale cycles, what this means is that about every three months products will go on sale again. However, you will also have remember there are sale seasons. For example, summer time is a great time to stock up on grill seasonings, salad dressings and condiments. During sale seasons you may want to stock up for closer to a years worth of those products, since they most likely won’t be as good of a deal for another year. Basically, buy things when they are on sale so that when you need or want them later you already have them in your stockpile and don’t have to blow your budget on just one or two items later.

7. Take advantage of special orders.
If you plan on buying several of one item to add to your stockpile, call the store ahead of time and ask if you can special order the product/s you want. Most grocery stores will let you special order and will appreciate you not clearing their shelves. Pharmacies however usually are not able to special order, so instead of clearing all of one product off the shelf, go to several different stores and buy just a couple from each store.

8. Rainchecks are your friend.
If the store is out of the item you want, ask for a raincheck. I love rainchecks, because they eliminate the stress of trying to get the item and striking out. I can get a raincheck and then come back at a later time after they have restocked and feel more comfortable buying maybe 5 of that item, instead of the 1-3 I would have bought during the sale week. Coming back later with a raincheck is a good way to build your stockpile without clearing shelves during the sale week when the shelf is already scarce. 

9. Stacking coupons.
Stacking coupons does not mean that you use two or more of the same coupon on an item. Stacking coupons is when you use a manufacture coupon along with a store coupon for the same product. For instance, Target has awesome printable store coupons on their website. Say they have a coupon for $3/1 Target coupon off of a package of Huggies diapers, and you also have a $3/1 manufacture coupon that you got in a weekly circular. Huggies diapers may be on sale for $8.99, you may use both the $3/1 Target coupon as well as the $3/1 manufacture coupon, making it $6 off the package of diapers. Making the total cost for diapers only $2.99 and I would call that a stock price!!!

10. Take advantage of rebates.
Rebates are a great way to turn an awesome deal into a moneymaking deal! For instance, say you bought $30 in Olay products for $5 after coupons. Well save your receipt because there may be a rebate for $10 back on a $30 Olay purchase. Rebates are usually applied to the pre-coupon total. So you can submit that receipt that you received from buying all those awesome products for only $5 and turn it into a $5 moneymaker!!!