Coupons 101

Is clipping and using the grocery coupons in the Sunday newspaper a waste of time? No! Using coupons, smart shoppers have learned how to live on a grocery budget of $50.00 a week! Savings may be small in the beginning but with knowledge, time and practice coupon shoppers are saving more than ever imagined. Even if you don’t NEED to pinch your pennies, you can still have more than you ever thought you could!


Accumulate Coupons

The first step to these terrific savings and successful coupon use is accumulating coupons. Each week there are usually two different coupon inserts in metropolitan newspapers with a third insert available once a month. Having multiples of each coupon enables a shopper to take advantage of the great deals in bulk. This helps build a food storage. Obtaining multiples of coupons is not difficult. Family, friends, neighbors and co-workers are great sources for obtaining multiple coupon inserts. There’s a great trading forum here at PinchingYourPennies.com, where you can trade the coupons from Sunday paper that you can’t use, for coupons that you can.

Another source of coupons is the internet. Printable coupons and coupon offers can be found at many manufacturer and coupon related websites. Many manufacturers also offer coupons which are sent post mail.

Additional coupons and in-store savings can be found at most grocery stores. Coupons commonly called blinkies are available in red machines set up in aisles in the stores. Also, apply for grocery store courtesy cards. Most grocery chains have these complimentary cards which provide extra discounts and savings at their stores. These discounts can be combined with coupons for maximum savings.


Get Organized

The second step to successful coupon use is organization. There is a variety of ways to organize and maintain coupons. Successful coupon users have a place to keep and organize the coupons. This can be a box, binder or flexible file. Plastic flex-type coupon organizers can be purchased at many stores. Many coupon users make their own binders using a zippered binder filled with photo pages or sports card pages. A box with dividers can be made or purchased. Whatever is used, the coupons are divided and placed in categories which provide for easy location while shopping.

There are many methods to saving and cutting the coupons and inserts. Some coupon users will cut all coupons and file them in their coupon organizer. This way all of the coupons are available when shopping. If a surprise deal or sale is found, the coupon is ready. Others cut only the coupons they are sure to use and leave the rest in the coupon inserts. When a sale or deal on a specific item occurs, they can go back to the insert and cut the needed coupons. If doing this, find a way to file and organize the inserts. Print or write out a list of which coupons are in each insert.


What is Food Storage?

The third and most powerful step to successful coupon use is called building a food storage. When a great deal is found, buy in bulk. This is why accumulating multiple coupons is necessary. Buying a lot of one thing at a great price can lead to never having to pay full price again. For example, buying six months of cereal at a great price means cereal will not need to be purchased again until you run out. This can be done with many food items and most household goods.


Use Coupons Wisely

Using coupons wisely is another key to successful coupon use. There are many ways to do this and maximize the savings. The first way is to avoid using a coupon just because it exists. If there is a coupon for an item that is not a great deal and is not needed, do not use it. Unused coupons can be traded. Expired coupons can be sent to military bases overseas where they are valid six months past the expiration date.

Watch the sales at different grocery stores. Pair the sales with the coupons to get great savings. Many times items are just a small fraction of their original price when this is done. Here at PinchingYourPennies, we compare ads and coupons for the grocery sales each week. This takes less research by the coupon user and provides a place for other coupon users to share deals they find each week.

Know the coupon policies at local stores. Stop at the customer service desks and ask about their coupon policies. Some stores double and triple the value of coupons. Some stores will combine a manufacturer’s coupon with a store coupon. If a store has a coupon in their ad or in store and there is a manufacturer’s coupon for the same item, both can be used. Two manufacturer’s coupons can not be combined. There are some stores that accept competitor’s store coupons.

Read each coupon carefully. Most state “one coupon per purchase”. Each item bought is a purchase. If 10 of an item is purchased, 10 coupons for that item may be used. It is rare for a coupon to state “one coupon per customer”.

When coupons are collected, organized and used in these ways it is easy to slice your monthly grocery budget in at least half. One PYP user has done just that.


Misti’s Story

“When I first started using coupons our monthly grocery budget was around $700. That included food, cleaning supplies, paper products, diapers, etc… It took a while before I really started to see my budget go down. I don’t think I noticed a difference in the amount of money I was spending for 5-6 months. But there was a huge difference in what I was bringing home. Over time, I started to see my budget come down. It was slow at first but I decided to cut $50 off each month and see what happened. After another 7-8 months, I had the budget for the same items down to $250 a month. After having a fourth child I increased the budget to $300 a month and that is what I spend now.” Misti M. of Toole, UT


Shopping Online

Shopping online provides a new shopping experience for many consumers. Many retailers have websites where they offer the same products found in their stores. There are also many retailers who just sell products online through their websites. Many times items can be found online at great savings. Many online retailers off free shipping or have free shipping promotions.

Most internet retailers offer discounts by providing discount coupon codes for things like free shipping, percentages off or fixed dollar amounts off a purchase. There are many places online that compile lists of these codes for shoppers. There are lists of discount coupon codes for most of the popular online retailers at www.pinchingyourpennies.com. Along with discount codes, many websites like this have areas devoted to sharing internet shopping deals. Recently smart shoppers were able to take advantage of a toy sale at a major internet retailer with discounts of 75% of more and free shipping.

With a better price, no shipping charges, increased internet shopping security, no hassle of going to the store and further discounts available with coupons codes, online shopping is growing in popularity. It has become a first stop for many smart shoppers.

Even with online shopping, smart shoppers do not give up shopping around town. Smart shopping around town can also provide great savings. Planning ahead saves shoppers money when shopping locally. Watch for sales and clearances. Know where local stores keep clearance items. Watch for end of season sales. Shopping at the end of a season for items needed the next year provides huge discounts. Become familiar with the sales cycles, know when different things are typically on sale. For example, many things such as mattress sets are typically on sale for the best discounts in the fall.


Shopping Around Town

Knowing the pricing policies of local stores is also important. Some stores have low price guarantees or match other store’s advertised sale prices. Know where to find information about sales and clearances around town. Again, websites like www.pinchingyourpennies.com can help with this. Many local deals and sales at stores are shared between readers. Even shopping locally can be a money saving experience.

Whether it is using grocery coupons, internet shopping or shopping locally, simply knowing how to shop and where to shop is the key to shopping smarter and realizing amazing savings. With the right knowledge, shoppers can pinch their pennies and never pay full price again.

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