A Guest Post: Couponing 101

Last night, my friend Erika taught a Couponing 101 class to my sister and I. My sister is a complete newcomer to couponing and I have tried previously – even having some small success at a Harris Teeter Super Doubles. But we both learned a lot! I asked Erika to write a guest post for the blog. Thank you so much Erika for teaching us your couponing ways!

Here’s what I’ve shared with others who have asked for help. Isn’t cut and paste a wonderful time saver? 🙂 There are a few things you have to learn in order to make coupons work for you
1) Don’t buy something just because you have a coupon for it.
If you’re not sure you’ll use it don’t buy it. Also make sure that the store brand isn’t cheaper than the name brand even after the coupon.

2) Learn all your local store coupon policies.
  • Some stores here have double coupons (give you twice the face value off) up to a certain amount. A lot of times that means that even though that particular store is a little more expensive, the items still work out cheaper since the coupon is worth more.
  • Also know how many of a particular coupon they’ll take. There’s nothing worse than digging items back out of the bags because they won’t take more coupons. Here, Harris Teeter and Lowes double up to $0.99 face value (so a 75 cent coupon is worth $1.50) and Kroger doubles up to $0.50 face value coupons. Harris Teeter and Lowes will also only double 20 coupons per day. None of the other local grocery stores double coupons that I know of. Harris Teeter takes 3 identical coupons (if you buy 3 items obviously), Lowes Food takes 4 and Kroger only takes 2.
3) Learn the store’s sale policies.
When items go on sale for buy one get one free, most of the grocery stores in let you buy just one at half price instead of having to buy two. Plus, because you are paying for both of them instead of one being free, they’ll let you use a coupon on each item if you do buy 2. This particularly saves waste when it’s an item that you just can’t use 2 of.

4) Always try to match up the coupons with sales.
That’s the way you can end up getting lots of items for under $1. Granted, if you’re out and you have to buy it, use the coupon, but it obviously will save you more if you can buy the items on sale as well. For me this does mean that I might visit 3 different stores in a week, but I’m only buying a few items at each store that are on sale and am in and out in 20 minutes or less.
5) The biggest way to save money is to try and build a stockpile.
Almost any item that you buy will go on sale every month or two. So, if when a non-perishable item is on sale for a good price you should buy enough to last you a month or two, so that you won’t have to buy it again until it’s on sale. It’s took me several months and a bit of extra money up front, but now I rarely buy things that aren’t on sale except milk and some produce.

6) Be willing to try new things/brands.
While I do have certain items that I’ll only buy a certain brand, when I was willing to start trying new brands of soap, deoderant, shampoo, etc I was able to save a lot of money by buying what was on sale. The drugstores make it fairly easy to get most toiletries for under $1 each if you match sales. Also be willing to try new types of produce. What ever is in season is soooo much cheaper than everything else. You just have to be open.

I have two blogs that I follow and both of them will tell you what’s on sale for good prices where and what coupons line up with the deals. It means that I don’t have to actually go through all the fliers each week to find the deals. The majority of the work is done for me.

I will also say that I get 3 papers every Sunday so that I have lots of coupons to use when there is a sale. I know it sounds a little excessive, but since I only pay a little over $2 for the first copy and the extra copies are only $1 each, it’s very easy to have them pay for themselves. I only have to average one coupon a week from each of the extra papers for them to pay for themselves. I don’t know if you currently get the paper, but it’s where I get a majority of my coupons. You can sign up for the extra papers for $1 through the N&O website and they come delivered to your door with your other paper.

Well, I know that was a ton of information and I hope it helps. If you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask.

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