Sunday, April 1, 2012

Smart Couponing

My coupon binder.
You've heard of and seen those "Extreme Couponers" on TV.  It amazes me how much stuff they can get for free and how much time they devote to their extreme shopping trips. I understand the thrill they get from getting such a great deal. It really is an adrenaline rush to be able to get so much for so little.  As much as I would love to be able to replicate what those extreme couponers do, I simply don't have the time required to get those kind of results. I do, however, love coupons and I do use my own method of couponing that I like to call "Smart Couponing".
Here are a few simple tips you can use to become a Smart Coupon Shopper:

1. Clip and Save any coupons that you might come across. I find coupons at the grocery store and on the internet. I also receive them in the mail from different manufacturers by signing in to their websites. I only use free coupons and I don't spend hours scouring the internet for them.
2. Keep your coupons organized and easily accessible. I have a binder that has sheet protectors used to hold business cards in it. This way I can keep my coupons organized and visible. Clean out your binder regularly to remove expired coupons.
3. Always bring your coupon binder along when going to the store, even if you don't plan to use a coupon. You never know when you might find a great deal or something on clearance that you also have a coupon for. This is how you get free or nearly free items.
4. Don't buy something just because you have a coupon for it. I usually only use coupons for things that I normally buy and use, unless I can get something for free or for pennies by using the coupon.
5 . Use coupons to your benefit by combining them with other offers, sales, and promotions. Make sure to check the weekly ad for the grocery stores you frequent and see if there are any items on sale that you might have coupons for.

Here is an example of one of the ways I have been using Tip #5 to really maximize the value of my coupons.

 I have a 1 year old baby girl, so diapers are on my list of things that I have to buy at the grocery store.  Pampers diapers usually offers coupons for their diapers that can be obtained in various ways.  These coupons usually range from $1.00 to $2.00 off. The 4 coupons at the left are for $1.50 and $2.00 off any Pampers diapers Jumbo Pack or Larger. Most often you can maximize the value of a coupon by buying the smallest sized package allowed. In this case I bought the Jumbo pack. Always check the price per ounce or the price per diaper in this case to make sure you are getting the best deal possible.  For example:  A jumbo pack of diapers contains 36 diapers for the price of $9.47, which makes the cost of each diaper $0.263.  The 96 count package of diapers, is $24.97, which makes the cost of each diaper $0.26. There is really not that much difference between the two, but if you use the $2.00 coupon on the smallest package the price per diaper becomes, $0.207.  Using the coupon for the larger package makes the price $0.239. I know you are only saving three cents per diaper but once you've bought a thousand diapers this way, you have saved $30. And if you are going to the trouble of  using a coupon you might as well maximize your savings.

 Now here is where tip #5 comes in to play. In addition to getting my diapers for $0.207 each, I also use this system to get some free items from the manufacturer, Proctor and Gamble.  My local grocery store always has a display of offers from P&G at the customer service desk. These offers usually involve you purchasing $30 worth of P&G products in a single transaction and then mailing in your receipt to receive free gifts. I usually use 4 coupons to buy 4 jumbo packages of diapers, which in this case put me at spending $30.88 on P&G products. Just enough to get my freebie, yeah! So far from P&G I have gotten a really nice Bakeware set, a Duracell USB Charger, a $10 Visa gift card, and my latest freebie will be a pair of BOBS (from Skechers) shoes. What a deal!  Now if all of this wasn't enough there is one more benefit from buying Pampers diapers. They have their own rewards program called, gifts to grow rewards. You simply collect the points and enter them online to redeem for more free gifts. I am saving my points for a free photo book from Shutterfly, which is one of the products that I already use and love.
I have also signed up to receive coupons from Proctor and Gamble in the mail, because they make tons of products that we use on a regular basis (in addition to Pampers diapers). I often try to buy these products in one shopping trip with coupons, so I can cash in on the free products they offer and save money on something I would be buying anyway. 

So as you can see, I may not be an Extreme Couponer, but I definitely try to be a Smart Couponer, and I always try to get the most bang for my buck! Follow my tips and you can be a Smart Couponer too! Also if you have any couponing tips please pass them along to me, I would love to hear about the ways you save money at the grocery store.

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