Category Archives: Field Trip

Learning to Coupon: From the Beginning

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coupon-clipping

It’s the first week of a new year and I am super excited to get started on one of my top New Year’s Resolutions – to save money!! The other night I cleaned out my binder and it. is. Empty! Good thing this week we are getting four inserts in our Sunday paper. I took a look at Sunday Coupon Preview and there are some really great, high value coupons that will pair well with this weeks upcoming ads.

I have had so many people ask me .. HOW do you do this? It seems so complicated. I don’t understand and this can’t be worth my time.  I’ve been couponing for over four years and I can tell you – YES – it is definitely worth your time.

Traditionally we make our store lists based on how empty our cabinets are.  We make a list of what we need and go to the store and start shopping.  If you want to be a successful couponer and save the MOST money possible, you must first leave that notion at the door.

One thing to understand is that each item in the store is tied to a 6-8 week sales cycle. During this cycle, the product, we’ll say orange juice, goes from it’s most expensive price to the rock bottom price. THIS is the price we want to buy it at. Pair this rock bottom price with an in-store catalina or a store reward and you’ve got yourself a hot deal!

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As the graphic above shows, you can save a little bit of money using a coupon or you could maximize that with matching your sales cycles to coupons and store offers.

“How do I know if the current price is the lowest it will go?” A fellow couponer once told me her rule – she said you can either track the price, week to week (um, no), and see how the cycle runs, OR, you can simply ask yourself, is this half? If you regularly buy cereal and it is normally $4.99 a box, I wait to purchase that box when it goes on sale for $2.50. Then I’ll pair that sale price with a coupon – say, $1 off one box and presto – you just got a $5 box of cereal for $1.50 – that’s more than a 50% savings! When the magic really happens is when that $2.50 sale price is combined with a store deal like  “Buy 5 get $5 off” which brings it down another $1! You can realistically purchase that $5 box of cereal for $.50. When you find a deal like this, stock up! Buy enough for your family to sustain you until that sales cycle comes around again. You just started your own little stockpile!

Here are some other great tips to get you motivated and ready to save:

SUBSCRIBE TO YOUR LOCAL PAPERS.  The quickest way to get started is to subscribe to your local newspapers. One tip that I learned years ago was to have as many inserts as family members. There are four of us in my household, so I made sure I had four sets of inserts each week. At the very least, have two sets so you can maximize any BOGO sales.

GET THE WORD OUT. Tell a few friends, family and coworkers that you’re going to start using coupons, and ask if they’d like to join in. You can build a valuable buddy system and share coupons with one another.

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GET ORGANIZED. Maximizing the benefits of couponing means staying organized, like using a three-ring binder, envelopes in a shoebox, or paper clips. Whatever you choose to use, make sure it works for you and stick with it.

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I use a large Trapper-Keeper-like binder and a smaller one from the dollar-store that will fit in my purse. My large binder has all of my coupons stored in baseball card sleeves and arranged in specific categories. Before I go to the store, I will pull the coupons I need from my large binder and store in my store-specific smaller one. This way, when I get to the check-out counter I’m not fumbling for loose coupons and I’m able to complete my transaction quickly.

A word of advice, buy a large, cute tote bag and always take your large binder with you. Nothing is worse than spotting a surprise deal and not having your coupon!

PRINT AND SAVE. Browse the web for great savings on coupons and sign up for manufacturer’s emails (which often include a coupon). Worried about spam? Get a free email account that you’ll use exclusively for couponing. When printing your coupons, change your ink setting to black and white. You’ll save on your ink and the coupon barcode will scan just fine.

PLAN AHEAD. Expert coupon users rarely run out of items because they plan ahead. Make sure you look at your stores weekly sales flyers to see what is on sale. There are also quite a few websites out there that are great to follow like Hip2Save.com, TotallyTarget.com and KrazyCouponLady.com – not to mention this one!!

STOCK UP. Stockpiling doesn’t need to take up a lot of space. Find an empty shelf or cabinet and begin filling it with items that you get for free or at a deep discount. This works particularly well for toiletries and household cleaners.

COUPON COURTESY. The first few times that you use coupons, it may seem like a hassle, but with a positive attitude, you can fly through the check-out with ease. If you have a lot of coupons, let the clerk know, and ask if they would like for you to organize your items in a particular way.

With just a little bit of effort, patience and humor, you can easily start saving 50% out of your family’s budget. Stay tuned for more tips and feel free to contact me with any questions you might have!!

Mid-Week Fieldtrip – See How I Saved $87.60 on $102.56 Worth of Merchandise

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Mid-Week Fieldtrip – See How I Saved $87.60 on $102.56 Worth of Merchandise

If you are looking to start a mini stockpile of your own, this would be a great week to start. Who doesn’t always need body wash and cake mix? My goodies all came from Target, Walgreens and CVS and are still available till Saturday, November 15th! So still plenty of time if you want to get out and score some of your own!

CVS:

Bought 1 Tide liquid 19-32 oz. loads on sale for $5.94 (Reg. $8.49!)
Used the $2/1 Tide Detergent coupons found in the 10/26 P&G
Plus, use the new $2/1 Tide liquid Detergent, 19-32 loads CVS store coupon here 
Final Price: ONLY $1.94!

WALGREENS:

Xtra Laundry Detergent $3/2
Used the $1/1 XTRA Laundry Detergent coupon found here
Final Price: $0.50

Lindsay Olives 5 or 6 oz $0.89 with in ad coupon
Used the $1/2 Lindsay Olives coupon found here (*zip code 68130) or here or here(Facebook)
Final Price: $0.39 per can!

Bought 2 Dial Bar Soap 8-packs and 4 Tone Body Wash $4.99 each
Total after the Buy Get 1 Free = $14.97 for 6
Used two Buy 2 Dial, Dial for Men or Tone Bar Soap 6 ct+ Get 1 FREE ($4.49 value) coupons found in the 10/26 RP (exp 11/15)
Final cost $5.99 for 16 bars of soap and 4 bottles of body wash!

TARGET:

Bought 3 Tylenol Cold or Cold and Flu, $5.74, sale price through 11/22
Buy 2, Receive $5.00 Target Gift Card through 11/22
Bought 2 Alka-Seltzer Plus Cold Tablets, 20 ct $4.39, regular price
Buy 2, Receive $5.00 Target Gift Card through 12/27
Used three $1.50/1 – Tylenol Sinus or Tylenol Cold product (You will need two computers)
And used 20% – Tylenol Cold, Target Cartwheel Offer (exp 1/3) – will subtract $3.44
Used two $1.00/1 – Alka-Seltzer Plus Product
Total cost: $16.06
-$5/$25 Mobile Coupons – so $11.06 out-of-pocket
Final Price with $10 in Gift Cards: $1.06 for all FIVE items! Awesome!

Bought 1 Pantene Shampoo 12.6 oz $3.99
Bought 1 Pantene Conditioner 12.6 oz $3.99
Bought 1 Pantene Styler 12.6 oz $3.99
Used the 5% Off Pantene Hair Care Cartwheel Savings Offer (will deduct $0.40)
Used the $4/2 Pantene Shampoo or Conditioner Products coupon found here
Used the $2/1 Pantene Styling Product coupon found here 
Final Price: $1.58

Bought 2 Betty Crocker cake mixes, $1 each
Used 1 SAVE 75¢/2 when you buy TWO Betty Crocker® Ready to Spread Frosting, Supreme Brownie Mix, Dessert Bar Mix, SuperMoist® Cake Mix
Final Price: $1.25 for both – 63¢ each!

Bought 3 Barilla Plus Pasta ($1.99) = $5.97 B2G1 (thru 11/29)
(Sorry – one box was not pictured because we had spaghetti last night 😉
Used (1) $1 off With purchase of two Barilla PLUS pasta items Target Coupon
Stacked with (3) $1/1 Barilla PLUS Pasta (Prints at bottom with an ad above)
(if they allow you to use the third coupon on a freebie, otherwise use (2))
Final Price: FREE!

Bought (4) Glade Jar Candles, $2.12 each (Clearanced)
Bought (1) Glade Plug In, $2.12 each (Clearanced)
Receive $5.00 Target Gift Card when you buy 5 select Glade items, valid through 11/29
Used $1/3 Glade Holiday Seasonal Item Target printable
Use 5% Glade Winter Collection (Target Cartwheel) (-$0.55)
Used (2) $2/2 Glade Products printable (must share)
Used $1/1 Glade Item printable [Excludes Aerosols and Solid Air Fresheners]
Pay as low as $5.05 but got back a $5 gift card
Final Price: $0.05 for all five – that’s 1 penny each!

Bought 2 Barilla Blue Box Pasta ($1.16) & 1 Barilla Pasta Sauce ($1.99)
-75¢ off With purchase of two Barilla Blue Box pasta items Target Coupon
-75¢ off Barilla pasta sauce item Target Coupon
$1.00 wyb Barilla Blue Box Pasta AND Barilla Pasta Sauce
Final Price: $1.81 for all 3

Final Cost of all products: $102.56
Total Out of Pocket: $29.96 BUT I earned back $15 in Target Gift Cards
FINAL COST: $14.96!!!!! That’s $87.60 in savings!!!!