Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Let's Talk Coupons

O.K......if you followed my previous posting on couponing, you now are starting to get an idea of what you use, you are thinking about a stockpile area and you have a little box or binder or something for your coupons. Now the next step.....where to get coupons.

1) Newspapers - The place most people get them obviously is from the paper. Now let me say here....I purchase two papers a week regardless of whether there is a Smart Source or a Red Plum, P&G Brand Saver, etc. I always purchase two. I do NOT purchase more than two. Unless 75% of the coupons in the paper you are going to use within the month, don't spend the money to get more than 2 papers. When I first started couponing, I would buy numerous papers and it seemed I ended up with more expired coupons than coupons I was able to use and a ton of newspapers to put into recycling. Another reason not to purchase more than two is...let's face it...there are not going to be awesome deals every week. You have to hit them when they happen, but the fact is they don't happen every week and if you buy 6 papers, that's a great deal of money to spend on papers when you end up not using the coupons. Finally, once you have your stockpile built, you will get to the point that you start getting the extra coupons you need from your favorite coupon clipping service. If you are going to purchase newspapers, then strongly suggest getting a newspaper subscription for the Sunday paper...a) it's cheaper and b) unfortunately, I have seen many times when great coupons were coming out and gotten papers only to have part of the flyer missing (the best part of course). If you have the paper delivered to you, you never have to worry about that.

2) Printables - You can get many great coupons from Coupons.com and Redplum. Couple of points here.......you can only print a printable twice on any one given computer/printer. However, if your kids have a computer/printer for themselves and you have one for you and your hubbie, then you can print two on each of those computers. Another thing to keep in mind is that more and more I am noticing that printables are starting to have the "Do Not Double" printed on top. Normally stores doubled these coupons regardless, but I am seeing more and more stores are starting to pay attention and not double these coupons. The unfortunate thing is that you won't know when you are selecting the coupons to print whether they can be doubled until you print them out. It's a hit/miss situation. I always print one set when the new coupons come out. Then I look at what I am interested in and if they are coupons that I use and can be doubled, then I go back and select them again and print them again.

3. Coupon Clipping Services - E-Bay, Taylor Town Preview and Coupon Clippers are all great services. Personally I prefer E-Bay because there are some military ladies on there who clip coupons and as I am associated with the military, I give them my business. Usually you will be paying about $.08 to $.15 a coupon for the ones you want. However, keep in mind that if it is considered a "hot coupon", all of the services are going to know it and the price is going to be much higher. Recently there was a $3 Snuggle or Downy coupon that came out (I can't remember) and Krogers had the product on sale for $3.50 so you were going to pay $.50 for the fabric softener. Everyone went nuts trying to find the coupon. Taylor Town and Coupon Clippers were sold out and E-Bay had them but the prices were hiked up. I was seeing anywhere from $8 up for a set of $10. Fortunately, I didn't buy any and waited and the Snuggle $2 coupons came out and I ordered those instead. I paid $5.98 for the set of 20. (In actuality I didn't pay for these at all because I used Survey money, but we'll talk more about that later.) I could have purchased 20 papers but here they go for $1.75 and that's a great deal more than the $5.98. I have never seen a time yet where the cost to purchase as many papers as I needed for the number of coupons I wanted, paid off. In this instance, if I had purchased 20 papers to get the 20 fabric softener coupons, I would have had to pay $35. I opted to pay the $5.98. Here's another way to look at it...the fabric softener was $1.87 so with the cost of the coupons, I in a sense purchased 3.19 boxes and got 17 for free. Get the picture.

4) Electronic coupons. There are places out there Cell Fire, etc. that offer electronic coupons that you can download straight to your grocery store card. I AM NOT A FAN OF THESE. Here's why....they cannot be doubled nor can they be combined with a paper coupon. If your clerk does combine them, she is wrong. It's called coupon fraud and I won't be a part of it. If I can't do it and do it legal, then I'm not gonna do it. Here's the thing....let's use the fabric softener again. Say a coupon came out for $1 off of the fabric softener from Cell Fire and you downloaded it to your Kroger card and then the $2 paper coupon came out in the flyer. When you go to the store and purchase the softener and give them your Kroger card and paper coupons, they are going to swipe your card first which means the $1 coupon is going to come off the price of the product. The machine will beep when she tries to take off the paper coupon and the cashier will look at the little tape and tell you that you already had a coupon for that. I know from experience. And of course they wouldn't take the $1 coupon off as it was electronic. It's not worth the hassle nor the easy of downloading to your card. The biggest reason I don't use them is they cannot be doubled. If you live in an area that doesn't coupons, then this by all means download the coupons as it is easier and now coupon cutting. I live in an area where all of the stores double so it's not a benefit to me. I want the most bang for my coupon and the only way to do that is with paper.

5) Tear Pads - Manufacturers from time to time will put up what we call "Tear Pads" in the store. They will be connected to the shelf where the product is. These coupons are usually of pretty good value and you tear off a couple of coupons. Let me repeat that...you tear off a "COUPLE" of coupons. I have seen people go up and take half of the tablet and I just want to smack them. It's what I call coupon ethics. Be nice and save some for everyone else. You guessed it.......I only take two. We're all in this together and if I take all of the coupons then there is none for you and that's just not nice.

6) Blinkies - These are the little machines that manufacturers put up on the shelf by the product that blink. Usually there is a coupon sticking partially out and you have to pull on it a little to get it come out. Same idea as the tear pads but the machine blinks thus the name blinkies. I have the same rule on these. Take a couple. They as well are pretty good coupons and every time I go into the grocery store, I walk down the main isle and look down each isle to see if there are any machines in the isle. I've gone in to get a gallon of milk before and come out with the milk and a blinkie on crackers and dish detergent.

7) Magazines - Hopefully you saw earlier my post about coupons in magazines. I currently get Redbook, Good Housekeeping and Family Circle and All You Magazine. There are tons of coupons in the All You magazine which is sold only at Wal-Mart. I highly recommend you get this magazine. More often than not, the value of the coupon you get in All You is higher than the value of the coupon you got from the newspaper so they are definitely worth it. And yes....I purchase two. All you is the only magazine that I physically go out and purchase each month. The other magazines I have subscriptions to. All of the magazines have coupons, but you will only get a couple from Good Housekeeping, Redbook and Family Circle. As I explained earlier, I don't pay for those magazines so it's no big deal to me that there aren't that many coupons in there.

That's where I get all of my coupons from and trust me when I say I have plenty of coupons for my binder. I take only what I use. The biggest trap I see people fall into when they first start couponing is that they grab coupons for everything, then they have so many coupons in their binder they don't know what they have. Or they start purchasing what they don't normally use which defeats the purpose. I don't purchase anything I don't normally use, unless I have a coupon that gives it to me free.

Well, that's my diddy on where to get your coupons from. Hopefully if you are just starting out, it will help you some.

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Sunday Coupon Preview 2