It’s week two of me sharing my love for all things coupon with you, and I’ve gotten some questions and feedback that prompted this post. (Please tell me you all remember Willis.) Before I invited anyone to follow my blog, I wanted to have a few ‘groundwork’ posts done so that there was some basic content here for you to look at. But, I realize not everyone knows where to look for this stuff, and not everyone has time to go hunting for the info they need. So, here’s a few pointers that I hope will help make more sense out of all of this for you.
I can’t possibly do all these deals.
I sure hope you don’t try. I don’t do them all, either. But, I try to post anything I think that someone might be interested in because even if I’m not interested, it might be the deal of the week for someone else. The idea here is to save money and make your family’s dollar stretch a bit more. If you’re buying Groupon deal after Eversave deal after CVS deal, you might be spending money that you don’t need to spend in the name of a good deal. Which, is no longer a good deal.
Also, your time is valuable. Don’t run around like a chicken without a head trying to hit ten stores each week. I suggest choosing one grocery store and one drug store to start with. Bottom line: Start slow and keep it manageable.
I have coupons coming out of my ears (and other places, too). Why did you tell me to buy 4 newspapers?
I know, 4 newspapers seems like a lot. But the basic idea is this: When something goes on sale and there is a coupon to match with it, giving you a great deal, you want to be able to stock up so you have a supply until the item goes on sale again (6-10 weeks later). If you only have one coupon, you can’t stock up. That’s why I buy four Sunday papers. Chances are, when you DO need an item, it won’t be on sale. So stock up when it is on sale and count your savings.
Next, you have to get organized. I have pictures of myself sitting at the kitchen table that is covered in coupons. I was having a coupon meltdown that day, and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank my husband for capturing it on film. Since then, I’ve gotten organized with my coupon binder and a bag to keep it in. I give a lot of details on this in our Organizing Your Coupons post. Find a method that works for you to organize your coupons and go with it.
I don’t understand the lingo. What are BOGO, RP, and SS? Really, what ARE you talking about, Willis?
Here is my post on Couponing Lingo. You can always refer back to it if you have a ‘what-you-talkin’-’bout-Pandora’ moment. The abbreviations you’ll see most often are these:
BOGO: buy one get one
WYB: when you buy
RP: Redplum (this is one of the inserts in your Sunday paper)
SS: Smartsource (this is also one of the inserts in your Sunday paper)
ECB: Extra Care Bucks (CVS’s reward bucks)
I’ve been trying to spell some of these out in recent posts until the lingo becomes familiar. If something doesn’t make sense, please let me know! Chances are you’re not the only one doing the Arnold Drummond and I want to know so I can make this as easy as possible for all of you.
Did you see that Extreme Couponing show? Are all couponers basically organized hoarders? Yikes!
Yes, I saw the show. I like the show for it’s entertainment value, but I am concerned that it gives couponers like me, just trying to save money for my family, a bad rap. Never in a million years would I buy 77 bottles of mustard. Nor would I start storing my toilet paper under my kids’ beds. If my stockpile got that out of hand, an intervention would be in order. I buy four newspapers, not 77. In general, I buy enough to last until the next sale on a particular item, which is usually 6-10 weeks. There are times when I stock up on additional quantities, and there may even be times I buy something I don’t use. Let me give you two examples:
Last week I scored an incredible deal at Giant Food Stores. This was the deal in their flyer: Buy any 4 of selected products, get $6 off your order instantly. They also had $1 coupon doublers in their flyer. One of the four products was this Fantastik spray. It was on sale for $2. I bought 4 newspapers, each of which had a $1/1 (that’s $1 off 1 item) coupon for Fantastik in it. I paired those 4 coupons with my coupon doublers and got 4 bottles of Fantastik for FREE! But that’s not all! Remember, I get $6 off my order just for buying the 4 bottles of Fantastik (that I didn’t even pay for!). So now I have a FREE $6 to spend in Giant. I had other coupons that I used to do this deal a few times, so I ended up with 12 bottles of Fantastik. Granted, it’s more than I would have normally bought, but it was free, and it also gave me more money to spend in the store, which I used to buy organic milk, produce, and whole grain bread, or food that it’s harder to get cheap. I can each keep all of this cleaner and have a free year’s supply, or I am quite sure I’d easily find one of my kids’ classrooms to donate it to, or a ton of other people and organizations.
Here’s another example of why I might buy something I don’t need: This week (4/10-4/16/11) at CVS, you can spend $20 on select products and get $10 back in ECB (Extra Care Bucks).
Buy 1 Finish Jet Dry, gelpacs, or Powerball tabs, $3
= $11, get $10 back in ECB
I have all the coupons spelled out in the post, but it’s not important for what I’m trying to show you here. I don’t use Air Wick Freshmatic products, so you might think it wouldn’t make sense for me to do this deal. But, I happen to have $4/1 (that’s $4 off 1 item) coupons for this, which helps me lower my out-of-pocket costs to do this deal. In the end, I can get two of these Freshmatic guys, two Lysol toilet bowl cleaners, and 1 Finish gelpac for $1. I couldn’t get the price down that low without using those Airwick coupons, even though I don’t need that item. Making sense? I give the Airwick to someone else and we’re all happy campers.
The only other reason I buy something we don’t need or want is if it’s a killer deal, I’m talking free or pocket change, and I can donate it. We’ve gotten free pet food that we don’t use, but it’s easily donated to the local shelter (or in my case, I feed the strays because I hope to become the first Coupon Cat Lady and rock a dual title. I’m kidding.).
Who really has time for this? I can’t keep up!
Would you believe me if I told you it gets easier? MUCH easier! I was overwhelmed when I started doing this, too. You have to get organized and find a system that works for you. Get a binder or a recipe box to keep your coupons in. Use my site to do your store match-ups. And don’t try to dive in to the point of drowning in the beginning. Start slow. Maybe you want to just try to master CVS and then add in your grocery store. Maybe you’d feel better just starting with two newspapers each week. There is no right or wrong way to do this. You need to do what works for you. Obviously we all have lives we’d like to lead outside of our couponing
addiction hobby. Once you find your groove, you will find that couponing actually saves time. You can easily make your grocery list each week and get what you need without having to run to the store each day trying to figure out what to make for dinner. I easily have enough on my stockpiles to feed our families for at least a week, probably quite a bit more, short of fresh produce. I think you’ll have the same results if you stick with it.
I’m a closet couponer. What if someone sees my binder?
Seriously, Willis? What ARE you talking about? Don’t be afraid to be seen with your binder! It’s not as if you’re stealing anything. Coupons are like cash. The stores that you use them in get reimbursed for every penny of the value, and then some to cover handling. There is nothing shameful in being frugal. Being frugal is different than being cheap. Frugal is in! Score yourself a couple of amazing deals and then come back and tell me if you’re afraid to be seen with your binder. I’m pretty sure it will become a prized possession and you’ll carry it loud and proud.
What else can I read on your blog to learn more about what Willis is talkin’ ’bout?
See that? *This* is what Willis was talkin’ ’bout! I hope it was helpful. I’d love to hear from you and get your feedback and of course any questions that you have! Please either use my contact form or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know what else you’d like to see on the blog! Happy savings!