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Learning to Coupon

July 8th, 2008 at 05:38 am

I've spent some time the past couple of days looking at some of the coupon sites and trying to learn how to use coupons intelligently and without an extensive waste of time. Here's a brief summary of what I've learned. Lots more detail available at www.couponmom.com and hotcouponworld.com, the primary sites I've been learning from.

1. General goal in couponing: buy when the price is at its lowest, and stockpile anything that you regularly use that's nonperishable. To know when prices are low, keep a price book where you track prices by date, store, and price per quantity.

2. To make it easy, don't clip coupons right away. Just save and date the inserts and file them.

3. There are two separate types of coupons: manufacturer and store. While you can't use two manufacturer or two store coupons on the same item, you *can* combine a store coupon with a manufacturer coupon for increased discount.

4. Some store will double the value of coupons. Know your store's doubling policy. If you can combine a double coupon with a sale, you might even get an item for free!

5. You generally get the best deals by combining a coupon or coupons with a store sale. To match up sales with coupons, there are a couple of options. Both start with pulling the weekly grocery circulars from those stores you frequent (usually published in the Sunday paper) and browsing through them for sales on items you buy. Then either (a)search though CouponMom's grocery database to find if there are current coupons for those items; or (b) look at the Grocery Game section of Hot Coupon World, which is organized by store and shows the week's sales. On the right is a "find coupon" button that will tell you if there's a coupon to be had in a recent weekly circular. On both sites, the coupons are listed by source (SmartSource, RedPlum, or PG&E) and date, so if you've saved the inserts and dated them, it will be easy to pull the coupons you'll need right before you go shopping.

6. If a coupon + sale leads to a good deal, that's the time to stock up--which means you'll need to get multiple coupons. You can subscribe to the Sunday edition of many newspapers for $1/week (there's a link to subscription savings on the coupon mom site), or ask friends and relatives who don't coupon to save them for you. There are also lots of coupons you can print from your computer; check your store's policy about accepting these.

There's lots more to learn on these sites and I'll explore them more eventually, but I've learned enough for a start. I'll be documenting my savings and putting them towards my $20 Challenge and seeing if I can break the back of the Grocery Monster!

Day 1 Efforts:
Grocery store sale: Buy 4 boxes of GM cereal, get $4 off, + two coupons for same cereals, each offering $1 off of two boxes --> $6 off cereals whose full price would be $15.56. That's a 38.6% savings, and $6 to my $20 Challenge (which I've not been pursuing so far this year).

A good start--we'll see if I can do better the next time! $6 off cereals whose full price would be $15.56. That's a 38.6% savings, and $6 to my $20 Challenge (which I've not been pursuing so far this year).

A good start--we'll see if I can do better the next time! [entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 3 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) ) -->

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