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Sunday, March 28, 2010

Organizing those coupons!

Now that your gathering all these coupons you have to figure out how to organize them. There are lots of ways to do this, experiment with a few and find what works best for you.

First up, the flier method. People who use this method keep their Sunday paper coupons in flier form, they don't cut them out. This allows them to reference which paper which coupon was in and which week it was. They don't have a lot of little bits of randomly sized paper to deal with. I'm not a fan of this method because I need to actually handle each coupon to easily remember what I have.

The second method is the envelope method. This requires cutting all your coupons, and organizing them into categories (dairy, meat, pets, etc) by manufacturer (Kraft, Conagra, P&G, etc) or by store. Labeling envelopes with your chosen categories and tucking coupons inside.

A similar method is to use an expandable file folder, they make coupon sized ones. and labeling it similarly. This is the method I use and my category names are always evolving as we change the way we shop. This method works for me because the file folders are small and I feel comfortable carrying them around with me. I also find it easy to get the coupons in and out of the sections and I don't have to carry scissors. The downside is that i do have to sort through a stack of loose papers to find what i need within the category.

A third method is the binder method. Loose leaf binders are filled with trading card sheets and those sheets are filled with coupons. Each sheet can be labeled with a category name. Full page sheets can hold large coupons or full flier pages. Other folders in the binder can hold sales papers, receipts, and shopping lists. The downside of this method is the binders are usually bigger. It's sometimes intimidating to walk into a store and spread a full sized binder out over the child seat are of your shopping cart.

Whether you pick one of these or make up your own organize your organizer buy your store's layout.

Possible category headers:

fresh produce, bread, cereal, snacks, meat, canned goods, dry goods, staples, baking, frozen foods, dairy, meat, pet food, baby it6ems, magazines and books, paper products, cleaning supplies, medicine, hygiene, office supplies, beverages, candy, ethnic foods, store specific, freebies, rebates, etc . . .

Friday, March 26, 2010

Finding Coupons - At the Store

When you're actually at the store keep your eyes open.You may find peelies, blinkies, tearpads, winetags, booklets, and catalinas.

Peelies are those coupons that are stuck to a product. They usually say something like "Save Now". If you don't peel them off yourself, make sure the cashier notices and peels them. Sometimes it better to save them for use another day, especially if you already have a good coupon/sale deal on that product and the cents off on the peelie is less than your coupon.

Blinkies are the coupons in those little machines that stick out from the shelves. Usually you pull a coupon free and another pops into it's place. They're called blinkies because those machines often blink occasionally they even make a noise or sing a jingle as you walk by.

Tearpads are just what they sound like. Pads of coupons usually stuck to a cardboard display that you peel away. If it's a good deal, don't be afraid to take a couple.

Wine tags are not available everywhere but they are coupons that hang from the necks of wine bottles. Usually they're coupons for meat to go along with your wine. They may also take the form of a cardboard wine carrier with deals like "Buy 4 bottles of wine and get $10.00 off your order"

Also keep your eyes open for idea and recipe booklets. These are often free and almost always include coupons.

Catalinas are those coupons that print when you check out. They're called catalinas because that's the company that makes the printers. They're usually aimed specifically toward you based on something you just bought. Some can be used buy anyone so feel free to trade them, others are tied to your shopper card and can only be used along with it. Some catalina's have an area to write you name and address, do this and you may receive coupons in the mail. Usually catalinas are store coupons and have to be used at the store you relieved them.

Sometimes there are even coupons loose on the shelves. These are placed there buy the store to encourage you to buy a product, by reps coming in to replenish stock and even generously left there by other customers.

Store coupons come in the form of catalinas, are printed from the store's website, come to you in the mail, or are sometimes tucked into a sales paper. They vary from manufacturer's coupons in that they can only be used at the store they're connected to (unless you're lucky enough to have a local store that honors competitors coupons). A plus with store coupons is that sometimes they can be stacked with manufacturer's coupons. This means if you have a coupon from the Sunday paper for 25 cents off Coke products and your grocery store mailed a coupon for 50 cents off Coke products, you can use both and get 75 cents off.

Rain checks aren't really coupons but I'm going to include them here anyway. If you visit your store planning to take advantage of a sale only to find they're sold out of that product you can visit customer service and request a rain check. The rain check can be used at a later date when the item is back in stock to allow you to get the sale price even though the item is now full price again. Rain check expiration dates vary from store to store, some are honored forever, some only for a month. Some stores don't issue rain checks at all and some stores restrict them during especially good sales. You'll have to check your favorite store's policies to find out how they handle it.

Find Coupons - A Few More Places

Another place to find coupons is inside the packages themselves. Companies often include these. Sometimes the included coupon is advertised on the outside packaging but most of the time it's not. These coupons are a bit like finding the prize in the cereal box.

Sometimes coupons are printed on the box to be cut out. These are easy to overlook if you're hurriedly preparing dinner so be sure to keep an eye out for them.

Coupons almost always come with free products you receive in the mail.

A newer place to get coupons is electronically. Coupons codes can be typed in online, attached to a store's member card, or sent to your cell phone to be shown to the cashier at the register.

You could also gather those coupons is through trading. There are lots of people out there using coupons and it's inevitable that you'll get some you just can't use. If a friend has a baby and you have a dog you could trade your baby items coupons for their pet items coupons.

There are also coupon trains. In a train an envelope is mailed or passed from person to person. You take out the coupons you would like to keep, replace them with a like value of coupons you don't want and pass it along to the next person in line. Be wary of expired coupons if you decide to try trading.

You could also take advantage of a coupon clipping service. These are organizations that gather and clip coupons then sale you the ones you want.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Finding Coupons - Company Websites and Online Printables

Another place to find coupons is on the web. Go to the websites of your favorite companies and stores. They may have an email newsletter or mailing list that you can join. If so, they may email you links to printable coupons, reminder of upcoming sales or when coupons for their products will be in the Sunday paper, or even send you coupons in the mail.

You might also want to use the "Contact Us" link at their site to tell them how much you enjoy their products. Be sure to include your name and address and you may be thanked with coupons in the mail.

On the other hand, if you've had a disappointing experience with one of their products sharing your thoughts might also get you a free item coupon. Recently I bought a product that had a coupon inside but that coupon was expired. I contacted the company and they sent a duplicate coupon with a later expiration date as well as a coupon for a free product.

While you're online check out SmartSource, Red Plum and You can pick and choose coupons from these sites to print. You may have to download and install something. These three sites a reputable sites that don't include spy ware with those downloads. Be wary of other coupon printing sites that want you to download something and use at your own risk.

Remember to make sure your favorite stores accept "Internet Printables". Due to some people abusing the printables (printing massive amounts of the same coupon or using a graphics program to change it to suit them) some stores no longer accept any printed coupons. Some stores only allow a set number of printed coupons per transaction.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Finding Coupons - Newspapers and Magazines

Most everyone knows that at least one Sunday paper in your area will have coupon inserts. Find out which of your local papers include them and buy those papers, subscribe to a full week, just the Sunday edition or just run out and buy one Sunday morning. If you subscribe to a Sunday paper from outside your area that's mailed to you, coupons won't be included as they're regionally based.

If more than one paper in your area has Sunday Inserts you may consider buying it too. Sometimes the coupons are slightly different, sometimes you'll want more than one copy of a coupon for a really good deal. You could of course buy multiple copies of the same paper also.

Some people ask the stores what happens to the unsold papers and make deals with them to get those papers. If one of your friends or a family member regularly gets the paper but doesn't coupon, you can arrange to get their coupons.

On the first Sunday of each month, in addition to the usual Smartsource and RedPlum inserts, Proctor and Gamble usually adds one packed with coupons for their products (Always, Bold, Bounce, Bounty, Cascade, Charmin, Cheer, Clairol, Comet, Cover Girl, Crest, Dawn, Downy, Duracell, Dryel, Eukanuba, Febreeze, Fixodent, Folgers, Gain, Gillette, Head &Shoulders, Herbal Essence, Iams, Ivory, Joy, Luvs, Millstone, Mr. Clean, Pampers, Pepto- Bismol, Pringles, Puffs, Scope, Tide, and Zest just to name a few.)

On holiday weekends, the Sunday before Memorial Day of the Sunday after Thanksgiving for example, there are no inserts. So if you're buying the paper strictly for the coupons don't bother on those days. The planned shedule for the rest of 2010:


4 – No Inserts

11 – Smart Source & RedPlum

18 – Smart Source & RedPlum

25 – Smart Source & (2) RedPlum


2 – Smart Source & RedPlum & Procter &Gamble

9 – Smart Source

16 – Smart Source & RedPlum

23 – Smart Source & RedPlum

30 – No Inserts


6 – (2) Smart Source & RedPlum & Procter and Gamble

13 – Smart Source

20 – (2) Smart Source & RedPlum

27 – Smart Source & RedPlum


4 – Procter and Gamble

11 – Smart Source & RedPlum

18 – Smart Source

25 – Smart Source & RedPlum


1 – Smart Source & RedPlum & Procter and Gamble

8 – (2) Smart Source & RedPlum

15 – Smart Source & RedPlum

22 – (2) Smart Source

29 – Smart Source & RedPlum & Procter and Gamble


5 – No Inserts

12 – Smart Source & 2 RedPlum

19 – Smart Source & RedPlum

26 – Smart Source & RedPlum


3 – Smart Source & RedPlum & Procter and Gamble

10 – Smart Source & RedPlum

17 – Smart Source & RedPlum

24 – Smart Source & RedPlum

31 – Smart Source & RedPlum


7 – (2) Smart Source & RedPlum & Procter and Gamble

14 – Smart Source & RedPlum

21 – Smart Source

28 – No Inserts


5 – Smart Source & RedPlum & Procter and Gamble

12 – Smart Source & RedPlum

19 – No Inserts

26- No Inserts

Also don't forget to check any "magazines" included in your Sunday paper. Often there will be coupons tucked inside.

Another place to get coupons is your favorite magazine. There may be a tearaway insert or coupons printed on the pages. These coupons are geared toward the target audience of the magazine so look for beauty coupons in Cosmo, Diaper coupons in Parents, and food coupons in Ladies Home Journal.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Why Bother Using Coupons?

A lot of people think that they won't save money using coupons. I used to be one of them. I would see coupons for name brand things and think to myself " I could just buy the store brand and it would be cheaper". Or I'd look at the coupons available and not find any for the brands I preferred.

But then I started making changes. Everyone is looking to save a little money these days so I thought I'd share. Yes, it's a little work and yes it takes a little time, but if it was easy everyone would do it.

I'm going to post a series of blog posts with some couponing basics and tips. I'll write about the different types of coupons and where to find them, making a price book, checking your stores policies on coupons, taking advantage of seasonal sales, double and triple coupon days, getting freebies, planning for your shopping trip, donating food and coupons, keeping your coupons organized, and how not to scare the cashier.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Church lady Recipes

In my quest to learn about food preservation I've been looking through some old cook books of the type where all the church's ladies submit recipes, someone has them bound into a book, and it's then sold to raise funds.

Most of the recipes are old fashioned, simple and quick which is to be expected. However there are tons of "recipes" that call for pouring Jello pudding into a store bought graham cracker crust and then topping with Cool Whip.

Is it just me, or is this not a recipe?