January 18, 2011

Tip of the day—A few couponing tips

  • Know your store’s coupon policy.  Some stores in our area double coupons up to 50cts (Kroger, Ingles).  Some stores accept store coupons and manufacturer coupons, this is called “stacking” a coupon (Target, Walgreens, CVS).  When you read through the coupon policy, you are better able to learn ways to get the most bang for your couponing buck. 
  • “Know when to hold them”—Knowing the price of most items that you buy gives you the best opportunity to buy with the coupon when the product is at its lowest price.  If the expiration date is far into the future, hold onto the coupon and be patient.  I almost always try to match a coupon with a sale, Mega Event deal, catalina (RR, ECB) deal or some other way to double my savings.  Example--I had some Star product coupons last year that read “Free or up to $4”.  I knew the Star made vinegars and olive oils, and for our family, the better deal was to wait for a good price on olive oil.  I did a little research to find what stores sold Star olive oil, even going so far as to call around to stores in the Memphis area since I have family there and visit often.  I used the coupons on two occasions, once in Memphis and once here in Knoxville when I found a buy one, get one sale on Star olive oil.  If I had rushed out and used the coupons as soon as I received them, I would not have had as good of a deal.
  • Price compare with the coupon different sizes.  Sometimes the smallest item is the best deal when you are using a coupon, but every once in a while the larger item is the better deal.  This can be confusing with products like toilet paper and paper towels.  In those instances, I pull out my handy-dandy cell phone (prehistoric cell phone as some people like to call it) and do a little math on the phone calculator.  By knowing the price per sheet, you’ll know which is the better deal.  I often give coupon classes an example of size comparison from shopping with my cousin.  We were making dinner and needed some Tabasco.  My cousin immediately grabbed the largest bottle on the shelf, and he was surprised when I told him to halt.  I explained that I had a few 50ct/1 coupons, which at Kroger are doubled making the discount really $1.  The smallest bottle of Tabasco was on sale for 99cts, making it completely free.  Yes, we could have bought the larger bottle, but we would have been paying money out of pocket. 
  • Stock up before you need the item.  You know that you will eventually need dish soap, shampoo, lotion, pasta, etc.  Instead of waiting until you really do need those products, shop the sales and stock up.  I buy products like whole wheat pasta and rice when they are free or super cheap and buy as many as I can with the coupons that I have.  If you don’t have a need for a product but it is free, consider donating it to charity or a friend who could use it.  (Check Blue Frog Creations weekly post about Couponing for Charity for some great ideas on how to do that).  Have a system for stockpiling in your house so that you make sure that nothing goes to waste.  I store most of the foods like the grocery store does—I put the newest cans in the back of the shelf and move the older ones to the front. 

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