Now that you know the why’s of couponing and you have a place to put your coupons, you need to fill your organizer with lots of coupons. So where do I find all my great coupons?
- The Sunday paper: I purchase two papers every week. For several months I was purchasing them at Walgreen’s for .99, but sadly they have stopped that promotion. If anyone knows where to get a deal on Sunday papers, let me know.
- The mailbox: I usually receive a Smart Source insert in the mail early in the week.
- Friends: Ask around, maybe someone you know is not using their inserts. One of the moms at my daughter’s dance studio blesses me with her extras every week.
- Recycling: Okay, this one may be beyond your comfort level. However, I usually recycle early on Sunday evening. You wouldn’t believe how many people throw away their papers intact. I only take inserts that are on the top of the pile. I also try to avoid picking up anything besides paper inserts (you don’t want to accidently pick up an envelope with personal information on it.)
- Printables: By using this blog and a host of others, you can be linked to a number of printable coupons. I don’t bother printing out coupons until I need them, except in the very rare circumstance that they are irreplacable. In other words, when someone is offering something for free or close to free, I print it right away. You will get a feel for the not-to-miss deals as you coupon. For information about printing coupons, see Jenny here.
- E-coupons: I use Shortcuts and P&G e-coupons that can be loaded onto your Kroger loyalty card. You can do this at Kroger’s site. I will warn you that I don’t always get credit for coupons that I know I’ve loaded and I’ve heard the same from others. The other downside is that you can only buy 1 item with the downloaded coupon. You have to load it again to buy the next item. I think 2 times is the maximum number of times they will let you load.
- Vocal Point: This is a great “club” you can join for free. They market a variety of new products and they send out multiple copies of great coupons.
- Blinkies (and tear pads): Those red machines in the grocery store that spit out coupons are affectionately referred to as “blinkies.” Blinkie hunting is a great way to entertain children in a grocery store. (Just make sure your kids are respectful, don’t drop coupons on the ground , or clean out the machines leaving them empty for the next shopper.)
- Store mailers: Almost all of the large chains have marketing pieces that they send out to your home. Make sure your shopper’s card has the right address on it (you can call to check) and sign up for any magazines or other mailings they offer. Kroger sends out unbelievable coupons to good customers.
- Direct to consumer mailings: Both email and snail mail coupons can be had when you sign up directly with your favorite brands. Check out their websites and see what they have to offer.
- On the product: Generally speaking, I find these to be about the least valuable coupons, but every once in awhile you get lucky. Especially if there are two packages of the same thing on the shelf, always opt for the one with a “peelie” on it.
- Catalinas: Catalinas are the coupons that print out at the register when you check out. You can often earn a catalina coupon for making specific purchases. These are usually denoted on a tag under the item on the shelf that says “save $xx on next purchase when you buy x.”
Note: Many of these options require signing up or downloading information. Before you sign up for anything, be sure to set up an email account on a free service like Yahoo. Use this address only for couponing and similar deals. This will allow you to browse these offers and newsletters at your leisure without interfering with your more pressing emails.
Also, if you have virus and spam protection on your computer, I would not worry about downloading the programs necessary to print coupons. The links that experienced couponers send you to are generally safe. I’ve not had any problems.
Now you should be drowning in coupons. As soon as you understand who will take them and how they will let you use them (store policies), you will be on your way to big savings.
Addendum: What to Cut
I was not kidding when I said above that you will be drowning in coupons. If you avail yourself of every possible resource, you will have more than you can use. So how do I decide what to cut and what not to cut?
Insert Coupons: I purchase 2-3 papers most weeks, and receive another 1-3 inserts from other sources. With my first two papers, I cut out almost everything. Over time you learn the things that you never, ever use coupons for. At my house, we never cut coupons for adult incontinence care, denture care products, and joint/arthritis care. We also avoid pet product coupons
With any successive inserts, I cut out everything I would conceivably buy in bulk. That means all food coupons (except pickles) and most paper products. Where I really stop cutting is on beauty stuff and medicines, as I’m usually not purchasing these in large quantities. Again, I make exceptions–I cut most cold care, allergy, and pain reliever coupons because we use these items and they are great for charity.
Printables: I rarely print a coupon until we need it. If a free item coupon comes up (like Cottonelle), I always print it right away as they don’t last long. I cut these and immediately stash them in my purse organizer under the store where I am most likely to use them. You will get a feel for “must prints” the longer you coupon. Free items and high dollar value (like $2.00 off cereal or $1.50 off yogurt) coupons are the only ones I print right away. Otherwise, I wait for the coupon matchup lists to come out and print only what I need for the week.
To help reduce the cost of all the printing, you can try these things:
- Set your printer to always print in black and white
- Save scrap paper (like your kids old worksheets and take home papers) and print on the back
- When printing your shopping list, use draft quality
- Order ink cartridges from online discounters or refill yourself