Friday, October 14, 2011

The Truth About Coupons 2

Samantha Gregory is back with the second installment of, The Truth About Coupons and tips on learning how to use coupons. You can read the first installment here.
Be sure to read the whole thing and watch the video at the end. 


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Coupon Planning and Patience Required
To even save a few dollars, enough to save a significant amount, takes two things. Planning and patience. If you are new to couponing you will not save a significant amount off your grocery bill the first week you get into the game. You have to plan your purchase, watch the sales cycles, tap into well established systems created by extreme couponers, and collect several weeks of coupons in advance.

Start Small and Stock Up
I suggest starting off small and stocking up on the basics so you have what you need for a few months. Items like cereal, ketchup, soups, toothpaste, shampoo, etc can be stocked easily for the long term. Keep the size of your family in mind and the shelf-life of different products.

Collect Coupons Inserts
If you want to get started begin collecting coupons from the Sunday paper. It is recommended that you get two to three papers per week. Do this for at least four weeks. During that time check out the sales cycle in your favorite two or three stores (including drug stores like CVS and Walgreens). A shortcut for this process is purchasing whole coupon inserts or individual coupons online. Also check your library for coupon exchange clubs; ask the newspaper delivery person for extras; ask family, friends, and neighbors to save them for you; and ask the paper recycling plant to save them for you.

Track Store Sales Cycles
Create and keep a price book to keep track of the prices of your favorite products. Study the sales paper each week to see when things go on sale. You may need a two-month cycle to really see the trend. An easier way to watch prices is to check out websites like TheGroceryGame.com, ConsumerQueen.com, CouponMom.com, CouponQueen.com and TheCouponDiva.com. There are several other coupon bloggers that have coupon databases on their websites that you can check out for food prices.


Coupon Store Policies Vary and Change
Some stores offer double or triple off the stated value of the coupon everyday or on certain days. This additional discount is often for coupons valued at 50 cents or less. So if you have a 50 cents off coupon you could really get $1.00 or $1.50 off the price of the product depending on the store. Just think, when an item is on sale and you have a coupon for it, you could get it for pennies or even free!

As extreme couponing becomes more popular, different stores are beginning to change their policies. You have to stay on top of this news so you don’t get caught with a bunch of coupons you can’t use. Plan your trip to the grocery store early in the day or late at night when there aren’t many people there. If you are using a lot of coupons it may take a while to checkout or you may get stuck with a new person who doesn’t know all the rules yet. 

How to Organize Your Coupons
With all these tools and resources in hand you will be ready to start using coupons to save money at the grocery store. To keep your coupons organized, use a binder. The kind of binder I recommend is one is large enough for regular notebook paper and that zips close. Use baseball card holders for the pages as well as sheet protectors to put in larger coupons. 

Take this binder to the store with you along with your grocery list and sales paper. Your pre-planning will help you stay on track and be efficient.   

You may find you will need to go to several stores to get the biggest discounts for the products you want. Again, these coupon databases will help you find the best prices.


This contribution is from Samantha Gregory. Gregory is an Atlanta mom, freelance writer, and editor at Rich Single Momma.com where she writes about single mom money issues. Follow her on Twitter @RichSingleMommaand @Samantha Gregory

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