What I have learned about couponing, pt. 2

As I mentioned before, couponing may at first seem impractical, but do some research and you will soon find that it can save you money and doesn’t have to be complicated.

However, my main point here during this post series is to share with you some simple realizations I had about coupons as I learned more about how to maximize their effectiveness.

  1. You can combine coupons with store sales. I’m sure this is obvious even to non-couponers, but it’s an important point to remember when trying to get the most for your money.
  2. You can use coupons on clearance items. The tricky part about this one is finding something that is on clearance that still has a non-expired coupon. This is because many items on clearance are not the newest products in-store (e.g. holiday candy), and coupons tend to be for either new items (Save $1 when you try our new, improved breath mint!) or “old reliables” (Cheerios). (Speaking of holiday candy, although it almost always goes on clearance after the holiday is over, the coupons are almost sure to expire on the day of the holiday.)
  3. Catalinas (the coupons that print out of the machine by the receipt machine) with a store’s logo on them do not have to be used at that store. However, the Catalina (or other coupon featuring a store logo) must say “Manufacturer’s Coupon” at the top. To contrast, Target coupons are often found in the Sunday inserts, and they feature the Target logo. Since these say “Store Coupon” at the top, they are not eligible anywhere but at Target. But they can be used for #4:
  4. Store coupons can be combined with manufacturer’s coupons. Some stores such as Walgreens and Target issue store coupons which can be collected from various sources. (Walgreens’ coupons are found in the weekly ad and in the EasySaver booklets; Target coupons can be printed online and found in the Sunday inserts.) This means that if Walgreens includes a coupon for $0.99 lip balm in their weekly ad and you have a $1 off coupon for that same lip balm, you can get it for free!

I’m sure this information is obvious to many people, whether serious couponers or not. Not all of it was obvious to me, though, so I thought sharing it with readers just might help someone out there. I didn’t know about #3 until recently. And #4 and #1 can be combined (store sale + store coupon + manufacturer’s coupon) to get things for very cheap or free.

Stay tuned for the rest of my list in an upcoming post!

What I have learned about couponing, pt. 1

When I first started couponing, I wondered, “How practical can clipping coupons be?” I already knew that it didn’t make sense to buy something simply because you had a coupon for it. That’s what the ads want you to do. “Try it out, it’s ok, you have our coupon, so it’s cheaper!” Also, buying a newspaper and printing internet coupons seemed like an impractical (and possibly money-wasting) way to acquire a slip of paper that could save me a measly 40¢ the one time in two months that I’d buy peanut butter, for example. And that was only if I remembered to bring the coupon to the store and actually hand it over at checkout.

After reading much on the subject (see my blogroll for recommended reading!), I realized that it was possible to make couponing a worthwhile activity that actually saves money. The biggest thrill (as I’m sure many couponers will agree) was that you could get things for FREE! (and fairly often at that, especially from CVS!)

Recently, I sat down with a pen and paper and outlined exactly what it was that changed my mind about couponing. As I began following the recommendations and shopping scenarios posted by others, I learned several ways that couponing is actually simpler than you may think! Over the next few days, I will share these realizations with you, hopefully so that you can make couponing work for you.