How to save money with coupons

I started a poll in the forums asking if any of the readers actually save money by cutting coupons. It turns out that some of them actually save a whole lot. After an interesting discussion started about saving money with coupons, I decided to ask MamaBaker (Leitha2006) to write a guest post showing us how she saves so much money with them. The following post is her guide to cutting coupons…

Tip #1 Get Coupons!

The best way to start is by getting the Sunday paper. If you have multiple papers in your area then look at all of them on a Sunday at the store and see what one has the most coupons. Not all papers have all of the coupon inserts. So maximize your savings and do a little research. If the coupons are really good I buy a few, last week I bought twelve.

Get coupons online! There are a ton of sites to get coupons. I like MyPoints.com because you will get points for the coupons that you print and you can use them to get gift cards after you save up enough. If you are looking for a certain product go to the website of that product many times they have coupons you can print off.

You can also get coupons from websites that sell coupons if you do not want to spend the time to cut them out.

Magazines: One that many people get for really good coupons is All You. You will sometimes find coupons on products, keep a look out for these.

Tip #2 Organize!

If you REALLY want the best deals then you need to take the time to organize your coupons. Your mother’s method of accordion envelope system just will not work. If you cannot see what you have you will not use it.

I have a binder that zips up for all of my coupons. I have it filled with plastic collectors cards sleeves. They are the perfect size to store my coupons. I also have my entire coupon collection sorted by categories that work for me: Bathroom, Cleaning, Meat/Dairy, Condiment, Canned, Pasta/Rice, Beverage, Baking, Breakfast, Paper, Frozen/Bread, Dessert/Snacks, Store Coupons, Rebates, Baby. This way I can take my binder to the store with me and if I find an unexpected mark down I can quickly locate my coupon.

Here is what my coupon binder looks like:

binder1binder1

Tip #3 Plan your shopping

Go shopping with a plan of attack. Going with out one will cost you and you are more likely impulse shop. I have my plan written or typed out when I go to the store and stick to it; I may have to adjust a bit if they are out of what I want.

I actually use spreadsheets to organize my shopping trips so I can fully see what I will spend and if it is worth it.

If a store is out of what you want at the sale price ask for a rain check and use your coupons later.

Tip #4 Know Your Stores

Many stores these days have savings cards that you need to get the sale price. It costs you nothing to sign up for them and is really worth it. Also learn the stores policy on doubling coupons and using printed coupons.

If you shop at CVS make sure you remember to scan your savings card at one of the kiosks before you shop, they will print out coupons for you. They make be valuable to you at that time or save them for a future purchase.

Tip #5 What to look for?

Use your coupons on sale items to get huge discounts, FREE or even make money off of items!

  • If there is a sale for “buy one get one free” you can use a coupon for each item if the coupon is for only one item each.
  • If there is a sale for “buy one get one free” you can use a buy one get one free coupon and you will get both items free.
  • If there is a special sale like buy a product and the store will give you a check or a coupon for the cost of that item toward a future purchase you can use a coupon for that item and end up making money!

Some products have coupons on them! Keep an eye out for this. Look for items that are on clearance you can use coupons on these a save big.

Tip #6 Feed the Cashier

Feed your coupons in order to the cashier to save you the most! If you have a coupon that it say $3 off a $15 purchase; to maximize your savings make sure your total before tax is $15. Hand the cashier your savings card 1st, the cashier will then ring in your items, then hand the casher ONLY the $3 off $15 coupon and they the other coupons. The reason is if the cashier rings in the other coupons before the $3 off a $15 purchase you will no longer be able to use it because your total will be under the required $15.

Tip #7 Multiple Transactions

binder1

Believe it or not but you can save with multiple transactions. Say you are buying so many of a product and at the end you will get a $10 coupon for your next transaction, then just break down all of your products. I will explain how to do this with my last CVS shopping trip.

Transaction #1

  • Kid Throat Coolers $4.99
  • Kid Throat Coolers $4.99

Coupon: Buy 1 get 1 free, found on the product website

This was a special and if you buy a Kid Throat Coolers got $4.99 back, there was a limit of 2 per person.

CVS Extra Care Bucks from last week $3.50

I paid OOP (out of pocket) $1.49

Received $9.98 in Extra Care Bucks

Transaction #2

  • FreeStyle Glucose Monitor $9.99
  • Monogram Napkins Christmas Clearance $0.75
  • Fructis Hairspray $2.99 Special Buy 1 get $2 in Extra Care Bucks
  • NasoGel $7.99 Special buy 1 get $7.99 in Extra Care Bucks
  • Gift Boxes Christmas Clearance $1.25

Coupons:

Fructis $1 off

NasoGel $2 off found on product website

FreeStyle Glucose Monitor $9.99 off

Extra Care Bucks from 1st transaction $9.98

I paid OOP (out of pocket) NOTHING!

Received $9.99 in Extra Care Bucks

Transaction #3

  • Colgate Toothpaste $2.50 Special buy 2 get $2 in Extra Care Bucks
  • Colgate Toothpaste $2.50
  • One Touch Glucose Monitor $29.99
  • SlimFast $6.49 Special buy 1 get $2 in Extra Care Bucks
  • NasoGel $7.99 Special buy 1 get $7.99 in Extra Care Bucks

Coupons:

Colgate $1.50 off found in All You magazine

Colgate $1.50 off found in All You magazine

One Touch Glucose Monitor $29.99 off

SlimFast $1.25 off

NasoGel $2 off found on product website

Extra Care Bucks from transaction #2 $9.99

I paid OOP: $3.24

Received $11.99 in Extra Care Bucks

The first 3 transactions where at all one store I just nicely asked the cashier if he minded if I do 3 transactions, I’ve never had them refuse me.

Transaction #4

the 1st store was out of Palmolive so I had to finish at another CVS

  • One Touch Glucose Monitor $29.99
  • 5 Packages of Tissue paper Christmas Clearance $4.95
  • 6 Palmolive $5.82
  • Freedom Lite Glucose Monitor $9.99
  • Kid Throat Coolers $9.98 Special buy 1 get $4.99 in Extra Care Bucks

Coupons:

One Touch Glucose Monitor $29.99 off

Palmolive buy 2 get $1 off

Palmolive buy 2 get $1 off

Palmolive buy 2 get $1 off

Freedom Lite Glucose Monitor $9.99 off

Kid Throat Coolers buy 1 get 1 free found on product website

Extra Care Bucks from 3rd transaction $11.99

I paid OOP: $0.77

Received $9.98 in Extra Care Bucks

Transaction Summary

So for everything I only paid OOP $5.50!

Are you wondering about those Glucose Monitors? I donate those to charity and in return I get a letter acknowledging my tax-deductible donation that goes towards my taxes at the end of the year.

It really has paid my family for me to do all of this work.

*BONUS*

By shopping like this I am able to stock-pile. Think of it like a squirrel collecting nuts. Right now I don’t have to buy toothpaste, shampoo, soap, laundry detergent and many more items for a while. When you but items as you run out of them you end up paying full price or more than you should. If you look at the transactions from above I got my toothpaste for FREE, honestly I’m not sure when I actually paid for toothpaste.

You can take these tips and put them to work for yourself. You will be able to spend less, save more money and give more to charity.

*** One last tip, if you shop online, definitely check out Ebates! It is a simple way to get cash back on just about all your online purchases!















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11 Comments
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  1. I keep my coupons in an index card box, with index cards separating them by category. It fits very neatly in the front of the shopping cart with my bag and shopping list.

    My mother used a small shoebox to keep her coupons, and for many years had them sorted by the aisles of her favorite grocery store.

  2. I wish we could be this exact with our coupon use. This is a great system that you have here. Recently we figured that for an hour and a half of work (clipping, looking for sales, etc.) we were saving only around $8. Looks like we have a long way to go to get to your level!

  3. Mr. Imperfect – I understand the time invested vs. money saved concern. Most people would rather earn more money to keep up with expenses.

    But if you can’t bring more money into the home (a lot of people in my home turf of SE Michigan are laid off / having to take pay cuts), the time invested into saving a few bucks at the grocery and drugstores with coupons and rebates is well spent.

  4. Do you cut coupons on a weekly basis? I know it helps, but I don’t have the patience to sit there looking for deals and cutting coupons, as do most people. I’m curious how others get started with it.

  5. I do cut and sort my coupons weekly. You will find that some of the sales you can match coupons to will happen the week of release, but other sales will happen later in the coupon life.

    I also keep coupons for any product that I could possibly use or buy if I like the price — even if it’s not my preferred brand.

    The coupons that I don’t need(diapers) I put in a giveaway box that I pass on to other families, put in my library coupon trade box, etc.

    Here’s a coupon-cutting trick for busy families: have the grade school or junior high kids do it as part of their regular or “extra money” chores. You’ll want to set guidelines – example, no dog food coupons needed for those families who don’t have a dog.

  6. Over the years, I’ve developed a “coupon awareness” trying to have a sense of savings for things we normally would use. Coupons have a tendency to draw us to things that we really don’t need. With the shift to commerce online- I’ve been gathering online coupons that we have used in our household. Over time and talking with friends I decided to start posting the daily savings opportunities online at http://www.CrazyBargain.com I’d love to get some feedback.

  7. Couponing is a HUGE way to save money! I received over $100 worth of free groceries just last week alone. I always get my toothpastes, deodorant, shampoos, etc FREE with coupons (or nearly free). I probably have a couple years worth stocked up in my pantry!

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