Friday, April 03, 2009

Getting Started With Coupons - The Easy Way

(For those who get this by email - This is a new post on my coupon blog at http://goldencoupons.blogspot.com) I wrote this article for an English assignment at Bohecker College.)

Free Meals and Good Deals Every Day!

This morning I stopped at the store and accidentally left my purse in the car. As I sheepishly returned to the car, my husband said, “Oh I thought you got everything free with your coupons now.” It’s almost that good! Since I started collecting and shopping with coupons, we have such a big stockpile of food and paper goods that we’ve had to put extra shelves in the garage, and our grocery bill has gone down at least 50 percent!

It started almost three months ago when I was working as a home nurse for a small child. The child’s mother was collecting an arsenal of shampoo, baby food, paper products, laundry detergent, and various household supplies that she proposed to have gotten free – or almost free - by using coupons while shopping.

After observing her for a while, I was convinced it could be a profitable experience for me if I could give it the commitment to time and detail required with such an undertaking

Finding coupons is a challenge, but not the mystery it seems to be once you know all the places to look. (I haven’t learned them all.) Most people have heard about the “Sunday paper coupons”, but do not understand how they work. The coupons are not actually printed in the Sunday paper. There are three popular coupon circulars inserted into the newspaper. These small booklets are chocked full of money-saving coupons. They are called Red Plum (RP), Smart Source (SS), and Proctor and Gamble (PG), but all three are not always in every week’s paper. (You can get a schedule list online at http://www.southernsavers.com/2008/12/2009-coupon-inserts-schedule/.) April 5, 2009 is schedule to have five booklets - the only time all year this will happen!

One of the easiest ways to first start collecting manufacturer's coupons is to scout the grocery isles for the small boxes attached to the shelves called “blinkies”. Some have blinking red lights. Help yourself to every coupon box and collect several of the free coupons to use when that item is actually on sale. (There may be a 20-second delay on the boxes.)

Most serious couponers buy or subscribe to more than one Sunday paper so they get more than one coupon booklet. (Drug Mart in Columbus, Ohio, has the Sunday paper on sale for 99 cents every Sunday.)


You can also go online and google for sites that let you download and print individual coupons for free. For instance, yesterday I google-searched for Angel Soft TP because I discovered it was on sale for 99-cents, and I had no coupons on file. I quickly printed out two coupons and got two 4-packs for free just hours before the sale ended! (Go 'back" two or three times after the first coupon prints in order to get a second printout.)

In the Columbus, Ohio, area another way to collect the coupon booklets is on Saturday – Monday when the clear plastic bags with the weekly Kroger ads and coupon circulars are distributed locally. You may already get this delivered on or near your mailbox every week and not know its worth! Treat them like gold! They often contain the coupon booklets, but sometimes not.


Lastly, you can actually purchase the specific coupon booklets online for 45 cents each at www.couponsthingsbydede.com/register.asp. This site also 'sells' extra coupons for other items. (They can charge only for handling and postage). (You must register with them first.)

One of the greatest coupon secrets is to collect several of the same coupons for items you use. (That’s why you need to get more than one coupon booklet each week.) For example, a wise coupon shopper will collect a bunch of 50-cent coupons for Campbell’s soup (from the coupon circulars, blinkies, or printing the coupons online). Use the coupons (one for each item) at grocery stores that double each coupon, (Kroger and Giant Eagle in Columbus), and only when it is on sale! (Watch the weekly fliers). The usual cost of that soup has now gone down from $1.67 a can to 25 cents a can!

For me, saving money continues to expand. At first I was glad when I saved a couple dollars, but now I’m pressing toward saving 75-90 percent on anything I buy. I do this by coordinating the coupons I have on file with whatever is on sale that week at Walgreens, CVS and the major grocery stores. Today I spent $26 on groceries at Kroger and saved $32 by studying the weekly sales and using my coupons. (I almost missed the 5 half-gallons of free milk and juice, Buffy.)

Much of my coupon continuing education comes from reading blogs written by people who do coupons full time! I have found several good Internet blogs that list weekly sales and matching coupons, helpful tips and advice, and new coupon information.

Some of the good blogs are: www.couponmom.com,
www.afullcup.com, http://survivingthestores.blogspot.com (no www on that site), and www.beingfrugalisfabulous.com. You can also do a google search for “Walgreens coupons” and “CVS coupons” for more sites and exciting information on how to get free products and free money at drug stores

I’m still learning new things about how to save with coupons, but I know that I’ll never again have to pay a penny for things like paper towels, toilet paper, toothpaste, body wash, shampoo, snack foods, cereal, Tylenol and Excedrin, razors, first-aid supplies, and much more if I’m willing to organize and wait for sales. (Then I stock up like mad!)

Because I’m such an Internet bug, I have several personal blogs. Thanks to my coupon success, I’ve started one for my coupon experiences called, Good Deals and Free Meals. (
http://goldencoupons.blogspot.com). (Where I'll post this article.)

I’m always delighted to teach others how to exchange little pieces of paper for hundreds of products we use everyday! I love to answer questions, give out extra coupons, update my friends on new specials and websites, and help others learn how to shop wisely and save money.

My hope is that more people will want to learn from my experience. Many are skeptical about the time it takes to ‘do” coupons. I agree that it’s not for everyone, but those who have learned the art of couponing say they will never go back to paying full price for anything again. I’ve discovered a new world of ‘couponers’. We are united in believing we can save money, and we are united in the new age of the Internet!

Take Care on the Journey,

~Linda

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2 comments:

Heather said...

Thanks for all of the coupon tipps. I hope couponing is as profitable for me in 3 months as for you! Greg sugested we could get the internet if I can save $45/month with coupons to cover the insight cost. Wish me luck!

Linda Meikle said...

Heather, You can save that much in one week!!!!!

Good luck mixed with perserverence will do it!!!!