Couponing 101

Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start.

First thing you need to know about couponing, is how to get some coupons. Well, it’s pretty easy, just buy the Sunday paper. (If you’re like me, and lived under a rock for forever), you may not know this, but you can do that by buying a subscription that will be delivered to your door, or going to your local convenience store. Who knew? Anyways, the best paper for this area is the Buffalo News, because it has more inserts than the Batavia Daily. Usually we buy 4 papers, steal the inserts, and Kenny drops the rest off to my family who all live within .2 miles from our house.

Ask around, some people may have absolutely no desire to coupon, and will just give the inserts to you, sometimes at restaurants or stores people will just leave them sitting there. There nothing to say you couldn’t go around on recycling day and go “blue bin shopping” either. I’ve even heard some people go dumpster diving at the recycling plant to get some more inserts. I have not yet stooped to that, but to each their own.

You can also buy coupons. Crazy Right?? Yeah there are coupon clipping websites out there where you can buy clipped coupons or whole inserts. It sounds super crazy, but I have done it, and it can work out to your advantage if there is a super great deal on a non-perishable you would like to stockpile. I guess you can buy coupons on Ebay too. But I’ve never done it.

Kinds of coupons?

There are a few types of inserts. Smart Source, Red Plum and P & G. You will get Smart Source the most, Red Plum comes randomly, and P & G is always on the first of the month.

You can also get yourself some coupons online. You can usually print out 2 per computer. (for those techies out there it’s actually per IP, so if you got some crazy magic server managing skills I guess you could figure something advantageous out) Look at places like coupons.com, smartsource.com, redplum.com, manufactures websites and Facebook pages, and don’t forget Target online printable coupons and mobile coupons.

I honestly try to avoid printable coupons as much as possible for a couple reasons, #1) It costs me money to print them, and you waste a lot of paper, but mainly reason #2) They are a pain the butt at the register because they hardly ever scan. Always print on the setting “color fast draft”. Never black and white. Stores will not accept printed coupons that are not in color to ensure they are not copies, there is a water mark on them only visible in color.

So now you’ve got your coupons, now what?

Get organized. Start by making a coupon binder. You need to find what method works best for you but I will tell you how I do mine here.

Pick a store to start. Don’t try to coupon the whole city of Batavia. Pick a store that is close to your house, that you can frequent often and easily. Look at their sale ad, look for good deals (and this is key) on things you will use !!!! Stick to the staples of life at first. Look at their sale ad again. and again. bring it in the bathroom with you, bring it to bed with you, ok just kidding. But you should really look at it good, read the fine print, check your coupons, check the product, make sure they match, make sure they haven’t expired. Know your stores coupon policy. Read the section on my blog called Shopping @ Stores. You don’t want any surprises at that register. That will cost you money, and your dignity.

OR

Go online to a wonderful blog like mine and read the weekly match-ups, from people like me who do the above for you. Gather your coupons, Read the section on my blog called Shopping @ Stores and go to town.

If you choose the latter. (Good choice) You’ll need to brush up on some couponing lingo. Don’t worry. It’s not bad. For a vocabulary of common couponing lingo you will need to learn, click here.

I’ve got my Match-ups. I’ve got my coupons.I’m going to town. What else do I need to know?

Rainchecks aren’t scary. I promise. Don’t be afraid to ask for them. It really only takes a minute.

You also need to know proper couponing etiquette. It’s pretty simple. Be polite.

Don’t operate in greed. If you can get 16 free tubes of toothpaste this week, that doesn’t mean you HAVE to. If there isn’t a ton of them there, leave some for the rest of the people. Don’t show up at 8 am Sunday morning and clear the shelf. If you need 16 tubes of toothpaste, talk to the manager about ordering them for you, and get a raincheck on the deal, then come and get them when them come in. Everybody will appreciate you for it.

I worked in retail a lot, so if I do end up taking a lot of product, I actually re-face the shelf before I leave, so there isn’t a giant hole in the shelf. Yep. I really do.

If there is a long line and there aren’t enough cashiers to handle it. Go to the back of the line. Seriously. Let the old lady who just need some milk go.

If you are doing multiple transactions and there is a long line. Return the to back of the line after each transaction. Yep. It’s only fair.

I always return my cart back into the store instead of leaving it in the parking lot. Silly? Maybe. But that kind of stuff goes along way with employees, when you are standing there with a stack of 25 coupons at 8am on Sunday, that have to be typed in manually, and the cashier hasn’t had her coffee yet.

Be firm with employees, if there is a problem and you know you are right in your deal, then speak up politely, not rudely. Know your stores coupon policy, maybe even carry it with you.

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