Apr 192011How To Tuesday: Extreme Couponing (Part 3)

Topic: How To Understand Bargain Jargon

If you’re just joining us, I started a How To Tuesday series to help you learn how to achieve Extreme Couponing status. You’ll learn how to coupon shop step-by-step and take your regular couponing to Extreme Couponing. If you’re new, be sure you check out our previous week’s features.

Before we get too far, I’d like to take a moment and help you understand Bargain Jargon. I know you’ve seen BOGO, WYB, OYNO, RP and PG listed on Saving with Shellie. If you’re not really sure what they all mean, here’s a quick run down.

BOGO = Buy one get one free
CRT = Cash Register Tape (a coupon printed at the end of a CVS receipt)
ECB = CVS ExtraCare Buck
FAR = Free After Rebate
GM = General Mills Coupon Insert
MFR = Manufacturer
MQ = Manufacturer Coupon
MIR = Mail In Rebate
OOP = Out Of Pocket
OYNO = On Your Next Order
PG/P&G = Proctor & Gamble Coupon Insert
PSA = Prices Start At
Q = Coupon
RP = Red Plum Coupon Insert
RR = Register Reward (Walgreens version of ECBs)
SS = SmartSource Coupon Insert
WYB = When You Buy

Need a refresher course later? You can always find the Abbreviations listed in the Couponing 101 section above. Or look way down at the bottom of the page in my footer. You’ll see Abbreviations listed in Hot Topics.

Check out the entire How To Tuesday feature to learn how to achieve savings success using coupons.

Apr 122011How To Tuesday: Extreme Couponing (Part 2)

Topic: How To Organize Coupons

If you’re just joining us, I started a How To Tuesday series to help you learn how to achieve Extreme Couponing status. You’ll learn how to coupon shop step-by-step and take your regular couponing to Extreme Couponing. If you’re new, be sure you check out our previous week’s features.

This week you may be looking at your coupon inserts wondering what in the world to do with them. Today’s topic covers coupon organization. There are really three main methods of organization with pros and cons to each.

Binder Binder (inside)

:: Whole Insert Filing Method

The first method I will highlight today is Whole Insert Filing. This is my preferred method because it takes the least amount of time. You can read a very detailed account of how I do it but here’s a quick run down.

Take the Sunday Coupon Inserts  each week and write the date in large numbers so it’s easy to read. Then place them in chronological order in an accordion file, file box or just a stack on your desk. Each week when you make your shopping list, you’ll pair up available coupons with the items on your list and only clip the coupons you need.

Disposing of inserts can prove tricky since the coupons inside expire at varying times. You can either write on the cover the date the last coupon expires so you know when to toss. Or, you can just toss inserts after 3 months. You may miss some deals that way but you won’t have stacks of coupons taking over your house. I recycle mine after three months. I keep them for a full three months. That means on April 1, I got rid of December 2010 inserts.

:: The Pros

It’s quick and easy. You are only clipping the coupons you need when you actually need them. Sure I need dishwashing soap, but it might not always be on sale or a better coupon may come next week. So I don’t clip a dishwashing soap coupon until it’s on my list. Then I can choose from the highest value coupon available.

:: The Major Con

You don’t have all your coupons with you. If you spot a killer clearance at the store and know you have $2 coupons at home, you either have to pay more, miss out or make a second trip. For me, I prefer not to sacrifice my time for a good deal. I will just skip the clearance find. However, I will write it on my list and grab the coupons, in case I need to make a second trip that week or if the item is still on clearance the following week.

I’ve been using this method for over a year and find it best suits my needs, however, you may find one of these other methods a better fit for you.

:: Coupon Binder Method

This second method is one you likely see on the TLC show Extreme Couponing. Not all Coupon Binder people are crazy though. It’s just a method that works well for many people. I personally find it too time consuming but people swear by it and love having their coupons organized.

First, you’ll need to get a binder, tab dividers and some baseball card protector sheets. You can find them in stores or just grab them from Amazon. Use the tab dividers to divide your binder into categories like Frozen Foods, Refrigerated Foods, Hair Care, Baby and more. Each Sunday you clip all the coupons from the Coupon Inserts. and file like coupons in the baseball card sheets in each category. You’ll be able to easily see what coupons you have and they’ll be organized by category.

To get rid of expired coupons, you’ll need to filp through each page and find the expired ones and pull them out.

:: The Pros

You always shop with your binder and therefore have all your coupons will you. If you spot a great clearance find, you can take advantage because you have the $2 coupons with you. Also, if you have multiple coupon inserts or multiples of the same value of coupon, they can all go in the same slot so they are organized by value in addition to category.

:: The Cons

It is very time consuming. Clipping and filing coupons from multiple inserts can take quite a bit of time. Also, flipping through the binder while you organize your shopping trip can also be time consuming.

If you have kids that can wield scissors and would like to clip coupons for you and even file them, then this might be a great method for you. Just add clipping and filing to the chore chart each week. I know others clip and file while they watch TV or do it at weekly family dinners. If you can fit it into your schedule, you might find this method to work well for you.

:: Coupon Wallet Method

This third method is kind of a middle ground of the two already mentioned. You go through the Sunday Coupon insert each week and clip out the coupons that you know you will use. Things like toothpaste, shampoo and food items. Then you file them categorically in  a small wallet file. The cancelled check files you can find at office supply stores work well. Keep the wallet file in your purse so you’re ready to shop anytime. Other take this method a step further and use a box because they have more coupons than will fit in the file.

To get rid of expired coupons, you have to sort through your file one by one and pull the expired coupons. Some people do this weekly and others do it monthly.

:: The Pros

Similar to the pros of the other methods but in a more limited degree. This method takes less time that the Coupon Binder Method because you are only clipping and filing coupons you use. You also have your coupons with you so if you spot a clearance deal, you can take advantage of it.

:: The Cons

It can be time consuming to clip and file coupons. You also may not know which insert they originate from so matching them to your shopping list may be more difficult. You also are only clipping the coupons you need. You might come across a big money maker on a product you’d never heard of. You wouldn’t be able to take advantage because you don’t have the coupons needed.

If you are only buying a few items with coupons, this might be a great method for you.

You can also try a combination of these methods. While I predominantly use the Whole Insert method, I do have a coupon wallet that I put extra coupons in. The ones I print off the internet, ones I get via mail or ones I just don’t end up using on my shopping trip for whatever reason. They all sit in my coupon wallet until I need them.

Experienced Couponers Chime In: Which method to you use? Why do you love it?

Check out the entire How To Tuesday feature to learn how to achieve savings success using coupons.

Apr 052011How To Tuesday: Extreme Couponing (Part 1)

Topic: How To Accumulate Coupons

If you’re here after watching the show on TLC called Extreme Couponing, I’m here to help you learn how to use coupons to maximize your savings. Keep in mind it’s not practical for beginners to try to copy exactly what you see on TV. The Extreme Couponing people have lots of experience. They spend hours and hours planning their shopping trips. And they aren’t buying real foods like meat, dairy and product.

But not to fear, you can still save 50% or more off your grocery budget.  Check out all the posts in this Extreme Couponing series and you’ll be couponing like a pro in no time! I’m always adding more tips for couponing success so if you see something that hasn’t been addressed, let me know and I’ll try to cover it soon. Plus Follow on Facebook for great discussion and more tips for success!

Since you actually need to have coupons to go coupon shopping, I thought I’d review some of the many resources available to find coupons.

:: Newspaper Coupons

Each Sunday, you will find coupon inserts in most metropolitan newspapers. Each of these inserts have a name and feature different brands,

  • Smartsource – This insert comes almost every week and carries major national brands.. You’ll find coupons inside from different brands including Kraft, Nabisco, Betty Crocker and more
  • Red Plum – This insert also come almost every week and carries major national brands. You’ll frequently find brands like Lysol, Woolite, Reach, Listerine, French’s and more.
  • Proctor & Gamble – This insert occurs monthly. Inside you’ll find coupons for specific Proctor & Gamble brand products like Olay, Tide, Pampers, Bounty and more.
  • General Mills – This insert occurs once a month or less. You’ll find coupons inside for specific General Mills brand products like Pillsbury, Cheerios and other cereals, Betty Crocker, Cascadian Farm, Green Giant, Yoplait and more.
  • Parade Magazine – Occasionally you’ll find a random coupon or two inside Parade Magazine in your Sunday paper. It’s not a traditional coupon source but worth a flip through.

I get a Sunday only subscription to get the inserts. Some people buy their paper at a dollar store. Others only buy the paper on weeks with multiple inserts. On Saturdays I provide the Sunday Coupon Preview so you can see how many inserts you’ll find and what coupons will be available.

:: Purchase Coupons

Some people don’t like to subscribe to the newspaper when they only buy a few specific products. Also, newspapers often have different coupon offerings in different regions. To solve these problems, many people purchase coupons. There are quite a few coupon services available.

  • Coupon Clippers – Buy individual coupons. You can buy multiples of the same coupon but there is often a limit. There is also a minimum order requirement and a handling fee. Despite these costs, it is often worthwhile to buy extra coupons if you’re looking to build your stockpile.
  • Coupons by DeDe – This is a great source for individual coupons as well as whole coupon inserts. If one insert has quite a few coupons you like, it might be cheaper to buy the whole thing instead of the individual coupons.
  • eBay – Purchase coupons from eBay cautiously. Sometimes people photocopy coupons and try to sell them as legitimate coupons. Check the ratings of the seller and make sure they don’t have complaints.

Purchasing coupons is actually illegal but coupon clipping services get around this law by stating the coupons are free and you are paying for their time to clip, sort and mail.

:: Internet Coupons

The Internet is a great resource for coupons. You can find lots of high value coupons. The only caveat is that many stores restrict printable coupon usage. Some stores won’t accept them. Other stores won’t accept them if they beep. A few stores don’t allow coupons greater than half the value of an item. And some stores have no requirements. Your best bet is to check out your individual store’s coupon policy before you go.

Here are a few of my favorite online coupon resources. You may need to download special software to access the coupons. This is a safe download.

You can also find coupons on a company’s website or even their Facebook page. Check out my printable coupon section for all the recent printables. Keep in mind printable coupons are only available for a limited time and reach their limits quickly.

Though easy to do, please keep in mind that photocopying coupons is considered fraud. Most computers are only allowed two prints. If you need more than two coupons, try using another computer like a friend, neighbor’s. Or go to your local library. While it may be tempting, photocopying coupons hurts everyone in the long run because stores further restrict the usage of these types of coupons. Be an honest, ethical couponer – don’t photocopy!

:: Other Sources

There are tons of other sources to find coupons. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Magazines – The best coupon magazine is All You. It’s chock-full of coupons every month. You can typically find at least $60 in savings inside, sometimes as much as $100. Parents magazine, Better Homes and Gardens, Kraft Food and Family and Woman’s Day also have coupons in them fairly regularly.
  • Store Coupons – You can find store coupons everywhere. These coupons are available online, in the Sunday newspaper, in their weekly sales fliers and also in coupon booklets available in stores.
  • Peelies – These are coupons that are stuck to packages or products. I’m sure you’ve seen them in the past. Remember to play nice, don’t peel off all the coupons. Just use the one on the item you are buying.
  • Blinkies – These are coupons that pop out of the dispensers located in the grocery store aisles. Again, be nice and only take coupons for what you are buying. Don’t clean out the dispenser!
  • Catalinas – These are the coupons that print out with your receipt at the grocery store. Sometimes these are item specific but other times they are money off your next purchase.

These are just some other sources. You can also get coupons from free sample offers, in your doctor’s office, from home mailers. Coupons are everywhere. Just keep your eyes peeled!

You can always find great coupons in the Saving with Shellie Coupon Database. There are newspaper coupons, internet coupons and other types of coupons listed to really help you save.

Tune in next Tuesday for the another Extreme Couponing installment. It’s all part of How To Tuesday!

Experienced Couponers: Chime in! What is your favorite coupon source?