Monday, February 21, 2011

Couponing: Getting Started

Coupons are, of course, a great way to save some money. Getting started in the "world of couponing" can be a little daunting, though, especially if you've seen things like Extreme Couponers! Never fear - Captain Cheap is here with a few tips to get you started!
Types of Coupons

There are two kinds of coupons: manufacturer's coupons and store coupons. Manufacturer's coupons come straight from production companies and are good at any store where their merchandise is sold.
Store coupons are store-specific coupons, for use only at a particular store or a particular location.

Sources for Coupons

Digital

The Internet is a great place to find coupons. redplum.com and smartsource.com offer a big selection of manufacturer's coupons, as well as deals on local restaurants and particular grocery stores when you enter your zip code. (Note: you must have a printer and be able to install the coupon printer application in order to use the coupons from these two sites.)

Some stores also offer digital coupons that you can "upload" to your shopper's card from their website. Kroger, for example, lets you upload up to 150 coupons to your shopper's card online  - and when the cashier scans your shopper's card at the store, your coupons will automatically register on the screen. These "digi-coupons" are separate from printed coupons and are available only online. Other stores that provide digital coupons downloadable onto your shopper's card include: Albertson's, Safeway, Smith's, Von's, and Fred Meyer. Click on any of these store names - the links'll take you right where you need to be to get started! (Note: you can't register on a store's website unless you already have a shopper's card.)

Manufacturer's coupons can also sometimes be found on companies' websites, so check those out, too. They may have printable coupons or they may send out coupons by regular mail. To get your company coupon search started, here are a few companies/brands whose websites are currently offering coupons: Campbell's Soup/Swanson Broths, Listerine mouthwash, Ronzoni Pasta, and Chi Chi's salsa.

Print

Comic courtesy of Sweeties Sweeps
Traditionally, coupons have lived in local papers. This is still a good source for both manufacturer's coupons and store coupons. Coupon veterans suggest buying the Sunday paper on Monday or Tuesday (often the price on the paper is reduced after Sunday -- but the coupons are still good!), to get ahold of great coupons and not having to pay full price. I get my coupons from our county newspaper, which is free, but Sunday editions of metro papers are probably your best bet for a good selection.
Coupons also are sometimes sent in "mailers" or "inserts": SmartSource, for instance, might come to your house, so be sure to check what looks like junk mail for savings you can actually use before you throw these out!

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Remember that sometimes buying something with a coupon is still not always the best deal. Be sure to compare brands by scanning shelf prices while you are shopping (and to check out your local store's weekly sales/ad!) to be sure you're getting the best bang for your buck!
 Happy coupon cutting, peeps -- and here's to another great week of savings!

6 comments:

  1. My coupon use is a three pronged attack. First I scan the stores sales, make a meal plan based on the whole foods on special that week (meats, veggies, ect), then make my meal plan and grocery list. After all that, I look for coupons on items already on my list. This is how I avoid the "trick" of coupons, buying items I might not otherwise need.

    Also, most stores will let you combine manufacturer's coupons with the store ones. I haven't gone so far as to explore the "doubling coupons" days some stores have.

    Thanks, I didn't know there were coupons you could load onto you shopper's card digitally!

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  2. sfound some stores will match sales from other stores if you bring in the sales and show them,I went to our local walmartand they did.The ad said the sirloin roasts were on sale for 3.99a lb.at an outlet store. I took the ad to walmart and their sirloin roast were 5.99 a lb. and much better quality(less fat)and got the sale price. I got 2 pounds od tillamook cheese for 3.00 off with matching the ad and you don'thave to drive all over townto get the sales.

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  3. @Real Mommy: That "trick" of coupons is a good point...'Extreme Couponers' tend to stock up on things they actually have no immediate need for (did you see that one guy's basement? He has enough soap for the next ten years!), but for those of us without the storage capacity and the large SUV to carry it all in, buying only things you're really, honestly going to use is something to keep in mind, no matter how enticing the deal! ...As far as double couponing, some stores do put their policies on their websites or print them right on their weekly flyers. (Note: there are usually limits. A store near me, for example, doubles only up to 50 cents.)

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  4. @ "Anonymous" :) : Another good couponing tip -- AND a gas-money (or bus fare money) saver, too! Certainly worth researching in your local area -- which stores promise to "match or beat competitors" when you bring in flyers! I've never done it myself, so I'm a little curious about how it works. Did you just show them the flyer at the checkout?

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  5. yes,and they were real helpful too.
    also we put coupons in a big ziplock bag taped to the fridge, that are good for the month.Every kind, so, if there is a need for anything, in any recipe, we can save something.

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