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1 Couponing Guide for Newbies on Sun Jul 03, 2011 2:47 am

Kay627

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Couponing Guide for Newbies

Here's a Couponing Guide as a way to introduce you to the world of couponing and saving money.

GETTING STARTED

1. Pick one or two stores; learn as much as you can about the store(s).

* Join the store’s savings card program, if available.

* Access the store’s weekly ad circular online or in-store.

* Find out about the store’s rain-check policy and senior or military discount program, if applicable to your situation.

* Get a copy of the store layout from customer service or make your own aisle-by-aisle map of the store – very helpful and a huge time-saver when you are organizing your coupons and making your shopping list.

* Know the store’s coupon policy, if available, and keep a copy with you.

2. Collect & organize your coupons for easy access at the store.

* To build up your coupon stash, buy or get duplicate Sunday newspapers from friends and checkout the Internet for printable coupons. You can checkout Coupons.com and the Money Saving coupons section.

* Ask yourself these questions before clipping a coupon: Will my family use the product? Even if I snag it for FREE, will it get used? Can it be donated? Don’t save the coupon if you answer NO to all these questions.

* Coupon organizers can be simple & economical: A standard white envelope or a homemade coupon box with index cards as dividers. A popular method is a three-ring binder with divider pages for categories.

* You can arrange your coupons alphabetically, by category, or keep your coupons unclipped and file by date of the ad circular. The only downside to the “ad circular” method is that you won’t have all your coupons on hand to snag unadvertised deals or clearance bargains.

* Coupons have varying terms which state what items qualify for the discount, what size(s) you need to purchase, and the date the coupon expires. Some coupons say “Do not double,” but most will double automatically at the register if the store doubles coupons.

3. Some helpful tips before you head to the store

* Get a copy of the store’s weekly ad circular, or view it online, so you can match sale products with coupons – doubling or tripling coupon value if allowed by store.

* Make a shopping list in order of the store’s aisles so that you can easily navigate through the store.

* Decide on a grocery budget and bring cash – not a credit card or check – and a calculator to the store. With cash only, there is no temptation to put extra items into the cart. Use the calculator to check deal scenarios and to track the total of your items (if you have the time & interest!).

* Plan to purchase only what is on your list unless you find a freebie.

* Keep in mind that sometimes a smaller quantity item is a better deal. With a coupon, for example, you might be able to get a travel-sized item for FREE. With several coupons, you can stock up for free or super cheap – just go for the smaller size package.

* Plan to look for unadvertised sales and clearance items. If you have a coupon for an already heavily discounted item, the cost can be free or very little.

* Don’t be brand loyal.… Try new products and be open to purchasing products you wouldn’t normally use.

* Consider buying products, which you don’t need, to get products you do need. To understand this backwards-sounding rule: Let’s say Walgreens has a promotion in which you earn a $5 Register Reward on your next purchase if you buy 10 Gillette shaving products. The least expensive Gillette product is shaving gel at $2 which you can buy for free by stacking a Walgreens $1/1 coupon with a Gillette manufacturer $1/1 coupon. With 10 Walgreens coupons and 10 Gillette coupons, you get 10 shaving gels for free plus a $5 Register Reward to use like cash on your next purchase! So you end up getting products for FREE and making $5.

* Understand how coupon overage works: Overage can play a big role in reducing your grocery bill. Example: A product which is on sale for $1 is purchased with a $2/1 manufacturer coupon. Overage = $1. The overage of $1 is then applied to the cost of other products which are purchased. Note: Some stores do not overage, and no store will ever give cash back for overage.

* Make couponing work for you: Clip at night in front of TV; get the kids involved as a fun activity; team up with friends & family!

* Take baby steps, be positive, and remember: Every coupon you use is money you save!

Happy Couponing!

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