If you are thinking about getting into couponing, but don't know how or where to start, it can be overwhelming. Let me walk you through it...step by step.
First of all, you need to start accumulating coupons. Where, you ask?
The Smart Source and the Red Plum inserts from the newspaper are the most popular, as are printable coupons from the Internet. You can get the inserts in your Sunday Sun-Sentinel. They also come in the free newspapers that sit outside of newsstands and some convenience stores.
Try to get 3-4 sets of the coupon inserts each week. Some folks buy as many as 8 newspapers on Sunday, but you can be creative, and find them in coffee shops and restaurant recyclers, etc. Leave them intact and write the date on the front of each booklet. DO NOT CUT THEM UP!! Too much trouble!!
Next, go to one of the websites that list the sale items by store, cross referenced with the date of matching coupons. I use couponmom.com.
Lets take CVS, for example. This week they are having a promotion on certain items, if you spend $15, you get $5 back in Easy Care Bucks (ECB.) The items in the promotion are listed in the CVS brochure found by the entrance of the store. I really don't look in the store brochures though, I find it goes much quicker just to print my lists from couponmom.
If you are a CVS shopper, then you should be a member of the Extra Care program. You carry a card with a bar code, or you can give the cashier your phone number to access your account. With this program you accumulate points, and get ECB to spend in CVS. And when you shop there, your cash register receipts sometimes come with a 'save $5 off $25' coupon on the bottom.
Sorry, if this seems tedious. That is just the background information, once you get it, you won't need to read it again.
Now comes the good part, the savings! Come with me to CVS!
1. While still at home, I checked the items I intended to buy on the CVS page on couponmom and printed it.
2. While still at home, I pulled the coupons (from the dated booklets, I keep in a file box, in dated folders) that go with the sale items that couponmom told me about, and paper-clipped them to my list.
3. I get out of my wallet my CVS Extra Care card, and a $5 off $25 coupon. Since I go to CVS a few times a week, I have a wallet full of $5 off $25 coupons. I clip these to my list.
4. At the store: I need to buy $15 of the promotional items from this weeks sale to get the $5 back. I need some snacks for my house, so I get 3 Baked Lays (on sale 2/$6) and 2 True North nuts, also 2/$6. I have enough coupons for both. (Also on the promo: Quaker Granola Bars, Tropicana OJ, Aquafina water.)
5. Before coupons, these 5 $3 items will total $15, so I'll get my $5 ECB. Now I want to get my shopping spree total up to $25 so I can get another $5 off, with my $5 off $25 coupon.
6. That's easy, 2 gallons of milk for the grandkids, and 6 small boxes of Ritz crackers and Wheat Thins that are on sale for $1 each. (I have $2 off 2 coupons from the 1/25 inserts, so these will be free after coupons.)
7. At the register, it's important to give the cashier your things in a certain order. First give your your Extra Care card. Then the items. After she rings the total, which in this instance came to $27, then give her your $5 off $25 coupon. Your total has to still be at $25 for the register to accept this coupon, so save your manufacturers coupons until after you give her the $5 off $25.
8. Then give her your manufacturers coupons. I had the Lays (3/08 insert) True North nuts ($1 off from 2/08) 6 Ritz / Wheat Thins (3/$2 off 2 from 1/25.)
A recap of the CVS shopping spree: Everything we bought was on sale, would have been around $40 at retail. Instead, I spent 11.88, but got a $5 ECBs to spend on my next CVS trip.
So I stocked my snacks drawer with 2 pks nuts, 6 boxes crackers, 3 bags chips...and got 2 gallons of milk, all worth $40, for $6.88.
The kids will have after school snacks and I didn't break the bank!