Below you’ll find the information from one of my coupon handouts from today’s Knoxville Coupon Fair. Please let me know if you have any questions. (Note that the photo was taken near the end of the day and my booth looks a little sparse. We had over 600 people present today—what a great crowd!)
How Do I Start Couponing?
Set time aside, be consistent, and start small
1. Buy the newspaper and review the coupons and sales ads
2. Either cut coupons you think will be good coupons or cut every coupon.
3. If you selectively cut out coupons, file the rest of the circular by date
4. File coupons you have clipped
5. Review the circulars to find coupon match-ups or save time by reviewing the blog sites that do this for you
6. Make your shopping list
7. Review what other items you may need at the grocery and look on the computer to find printables
8. File coupons you will be using that week in a separate section of your coupon organizer in order to save time at the store
Developing a needs list for the month will help you shop the coupons and sales. (If you know you are about to run out of toilet paper and need to buy it before the month is up, you can watch for a coupon match up and sale. In contrast, if you didn’t have a plan you might pay full price or a marked up price on the same toilet paper because you bought it when you were about to run out.)
Sign up for freebies and newsletters as you become more familiar with what is available. You might chose to use an alternate e-mail account so that your inbox is not overloaded with spam.
Monthly review your couponing system, manage your stockpiles, and recycle coupons that may have expired
Coupon Lingo, Abbreviations, and Definitions
OOP—Out of pocket, the amount you spend once all sales, promotions, and coupons have been deducted from your total
Overage—You made money. If you buy a can of tomatoes that is on sale for 85 cents and you have a $1 off coupon, you’ve made 15 cents of overage. Some stores do not allow this.
Catalina—this is a coupon that prints out with your receipt. It is named after the company that makes the machine. Catalinas are often money makers. Example: on the store shelf you see a tag that says, “Buy 2 French’s mustards between dates 3/1/09-3/31/09 and get $1 off your next purchase.” The mustards each cost $1.19, and you have two 50 cent off coupons. These coupons are each doubled. You spend 19 cents OOP (then tax) and get back $1 catalina for your next purchase. These have expiration dates just like coupons, but usually with a much more limited time.
Printable—a coupon off of the internet, which you can print on your home computer. You are often allowed two prints per printer, unless it specifically says differently. To save time you can hit the go back arrow on your computer and then hit refresh to print two. Photocopying of printables is not allowed. If a coupon is e-mailed to your inbox, it often has a specific code number on it for the manufacturer to keep a tally. If you set your printer to print multiple copies of the same coupon, this is fraud. Not only is it unethical, but your store will be out of money because the company can refuse to pay on more than one.
Loadable—a coupon that can be loaded onto your Kroger Plus Card.
Blinkie—a coupon placed on a store aisle directly beside the product that the coupon is for. Often the machine that doles them out has a small blinking red light on it.
Peelie—a coupon that is attached to an item, usually meant to be used immediately.
RR—Register Reward. A catalina from Walgreens. These cannot be rolled onto the next transaction when you buy the same item. Example: Colgate toothpaste is on sale for $2.99 and you get a $2.99 RR for your next purchase. If you buy one toothpaste in one transaction a $2.99 RR will print. If you do another transaction and try to buy the toothpaste with that original RR, a second RR will not print out. You can, however, use these on other products that have RR. Transaction 1—buy toothpaste for $2.99 and earn a RR for $2.99. Transaction 2—buy 5 brownie mixes on sale and use the $2.99 RR to pay for part of it. These often expire the following week to two weeks.
ECB—Extra Care Buck. A catalina from CVS. These can be rolled from one transaction to another because you will use your CVSAdvantage card which keeps a tally of how many items are bought. CVS deals will often have a limit per customer. These also have a more limited expiration date.
Rolling deals—using money earned from one deal to pay for another so that your OOP is limited. Example: Spend $5 OOP at CVS and earn a $5 ECB. Complete another transaction in which you spend that original $5 ECB and earn a $6 ECB, etc. There are people who claim to have been rolling ECBs for years.
Stacking—using a store coupon and a manufacturer’s coupon at the same time. Stores vary on their policies on doing so. Target, Walgreens, and CVS will allow valid store coupons and manufacturer coupons.
Filler—Walgreens will only allow your total amount of coupons (store and manufacturers) to equal the amount of items you are purchasing. So, if you want to buy 1 candy bar and have a Walgreens sale ad coupon and a manufacturer’s coupon, you will have to add another small item to your purchase to be able to use both coupons. At Walgreens, your catalina counts as a manufacturer coupon.
Stockpile—the extra items that you buy and accumulate each week. Once you establish a small stockpile of items for your home, start donating extras to food banks, shelters, etc.
Managing your stockpile—this is an extremely important part of being a good steward of what you have. If you let toothpaste go beyond its expiration, and it goes in the trash can, it is a waste of resources whether it was free or not. When you put items in your pantry, put the newest item in the back. Use the item that is closest to expiration first.
Hoarding—the diagnostic manual definition of hoarding is differed from what we call stockpiling based on whether or not the action is functional or dysfunctional in the eyes of the person, the culture, and those close to the person. People who hoard often save things with no value other than seen in that person’s eyes, or if the item has value it is often not used within its intended time frame.
Circulars—coupon ads inside of the newspaper or weekly store ads in the newspaper.
Loss Leader—an advertised deal that is sold at a price that is often cheaper than the store bought it at. These are used to get you in the store so that you will purchase other items that you need from your grocery list.
Generics—a house or store brand of a given item. Many of these have a satisfaction guarantee. There are coupons on occasion for these offered through the store.
Cost per unit—Most stores have a price per weight or item in small writing on the shelf tag. Due to the recession, many products have shrunk in size, but are still priced the same. A “pint” of ice cream may only be 12 ounces, rather than 16! Knowing the prices of the items isn’t all you need to know, you also need to know what is a good price per unit.
Warehouse store—Sam’s or Costco
Bulk purchase—buying more of an item in order to get a discounted rate per unit. Bulk items can also refer to the section of health foods stores where you can use your own containers or a bag to purchase as much or as little of an item as needed. Example: at Three Rivers Market, you can often purchase bulk spices at a MUCH reduced rate than the jars in a grocery store. Because the turnover rate is high, you are often getting fresher items.
Mark down—an item that is about to expire that is reduced in price for quick sale.
Turnover rate—how fast an item is sold out and restocked.
Brand Loyalty—shopping at only the same stores every week. Buying the same type of a product each time. “I only buy Tide” “I only drink Mayfield’s.” Companies start building on brand loyalty almost at birth—think Disney Princesses on packages of juice or cereal.
Rebate—purchasing an item and receiving something from the company in return (purchase price, part of a purchase price, or a free item such as a toy or book). It is important to complete these as soon as you get home from purchasing the item. Read the fine print of the rebate carefully and make sure you include everything you should. I often make a copy of the rebate so that if there is a problem I will be able to contact the manufacturer.
Tweebie—a freebie offered through Twitter notification.