Teach me to coupon, please!
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  1. #1

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    Default New at using coupons

    And being Frugal. If anyone has any advice, I love to hear it. We have been over spending for too long. And after losing 1/2 my income we have decided to trim the fact in our spending. I'm open to any advice.
    Last edited by Day~Dreamer; 09-07-2008 at 02:18 PM.

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    Registered User Jskell911's Avatar
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    To get the most bang for your buck, combine coupons with the items that are on a good sale. Plan your menu around this kind of shopping. A lot of us also will use multiple coupons to but=y many of the same item when we can get it really cheap. This helps us to not ever pay full price for certain items.

    If you are new to this then you might want to check out coupon mom dot com. She matches up the sales in your area with the coupons that are out, and basically makes your shopping list for you.

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    CVS is pretty complicated to posts about. Google "CVS Game" and you will find tons of sites devoted to savings at CVS. They off ECB's ( Electronic Cash Back ) - basically a receipt that can be used just like cash on your next transaction. Separate your purchases in to a few small transactions and you will eventually be using ECB's to purchase stuff that generates more ECB's.

    And if you have a coupon? Even better.
    Last week I purchased 4 Contour diabetes meters. They were on sale for $14.99, and each generated a $5 ECB. Well, I had gotten my hands on 4 Countour meters worth $30 a piece - a free meter. The coupon was price adjusted to $14,99 - I didn't get any overage - but I got a $5 ECB for each meter. ( I don't need the meters - I just wanted the ECB's. I donate the meters to a local health care clinic and to the thrift store )

    I now have $20 worth of ECB's just from that transaction.

    Rite Aid is pretty more straight forward. Every moth, they have products when you can get a rebate check at the end of the month just for buying the product. You register your purchase with them online with your receipt. Save your receipt!

    Start clipping coupons religiously. Arrange them in a binder in those small baseball card holders so you can see them all. Use your binder when you make your lists for the grocery store and marry up sales with coupons.

    I make a running list every week of items I am out of. Then, I make a list for each local grocery store of that store's loss leaders, and then anything from my "I am out" list that may be on sale at a store. If I need salt, and it isn't on sale at store X but it is at store Y, salt goes on store Y's list.

    Pull the coupons you need and put them in the front of your binder so they are accessible.

    Check to see if the stores in your area take IPs - coupons you can print from the Internet - a lot don't take them now, so check before you go on a printing frenzy.

    Buy coupons or trade for them. Google coupon clipping services and you will find some. I use thecouponmaster.com and thecouponclippers.com - both great, honest, reputable sites. I recommend them highly because you can get your hands on coupons from all over the country - not just your regionally distributed ones.
    Last edited by Mavourneen; 01-01-2009 at 11:22 AM.

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    Registered User Marie78's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hunertime View Post
    I used to use coupons then got rid of the paper. I have been hearing stories about rite aid saving, CVS savings and just plain coupon savings. Please tell me how you do it and how you organize them to save time and money. I would be grateful, Candy


    I have to ask: I see you are feeding 6 people on $300/month. Are you including food and non-food items in this budget? I used to budget $275/month for food and non-food items for 2 adults and 2 cats. Then the prices went so high in the grocery store that I brought my budget up to $325 for food and non-food items. We buy mostly generic items and I use coupons and an average weekly trip to the grocery store runs between $75-$80 for us.

    Please share some menu ideas and some tricks of your own for keeping within your budget. We rarely buy any goodies and we bring our own breakfasts and lunches to work. I even bring my own tea bags and Dh makes coffee at home to bring into work. We only eat out once a week and I account for that separate from our grocery budget. I'll make some scratch muffins or cookies if we are craving a treat.

    Seriously, between the cats food, the cost of toilet paper, meat and produce I haven't figured out where to cut any corners lately. I thought I was doing pretty well until I saw you feeding 6 people on $300 a month and they look old enough to have healthy appetites .

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    I'm not a "coupon queen", mostly because they represent only a small percentage of things I would normally purchase. Ultimate savings hint: don't be sucked into namebrands or unnecessary foods and goods - just because you have a coupon.

    Rarely is namebrand peanut butter a better value WITH a coupon than Kroger brand on sale - and I often get store coupons for Kroger brand. I keep track of prices in my Price Book so I can check unit prices to see if a coupon WILL save me money.

    Wise choices and a strict budget is how I purchased food and built a 1-year stockpile on a $50/week budget, not coupons. Coupons are just a tool in the tool box. Ultimately, it's what's the least amount of money you can spend for a year. I'll go from a $50/week budget (2008) to $40 because I have a stockpile established and just need to maintain it.

    Because I use mostly whole foods and cook from scratch, use very few pre-packaged or namebrand foods, and use a bare minimun of non-food items, there aren't many coupons that I would use to begin with. Those are ways to save money as well.

    Examples:
    -use rags/microfiber towels/bar mops - instead of paper towels

    -I purchase a 5-gallon bucket of Charlie's Soap for laundry, which will last us at least 3.5 years (9-cents per load). Because I use Charlie's Soap, I never need softener because it leaves no soap residue and clothes are soft without softeners - so that's a huge savings. Another benefit - less packaging waste than purchasing bottles/boxes of detergent and softener.

    -Cleaning products - steam cleaners that use water; alcohol/water or bleach/water for sanitizing and clean-up.

    My tip for using coupons, and this is how I try to use them, is to stack savings. By that I mean, if I have a coupon for a certain item we regularly use, I'll (1) wait for it to be on sale, a manager's special, or discounted item, to use it (2) use the coupon for double or triple value (3) check for any rebates. That's the ultimate way to save, get something free, or even get money back.
    Last edited by Grainlady; 01-01-2009 at 12:43 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marie78 View Post
    Seriously, between the cats food, the cost of toilet paper, meat and produce I haven't figured out where to cut any corners lately. I thought I was doing pretty well until I saw you feeding 6 people on $300 a month and they look old enough to have healthy appetites .
    The cost of toilet paper? You PAY MONEY for toilet paper???

    Just joking with you.

    Last week I found Harris Teeter had 4 packs of snowflake design Cottonelle on sale for .94 - I had a .50 blinkie coupon doubled to $1.00... free TP! I'll be using snowflake design in the middle of July!!!

    Dish soap is the same way. Small bottles of Dawn are often on sale for .99 - Use a .50 coupon doubled to $1.00 for free dish soap. Stock up - it doesn't go bad and can be stockpiled for a long, long time.

    Make your own laundry soap. Inexpensive, and works so well that after a while you'll forget it is homemade.

    1 box powdered Borax
    1 box Arm and Hammer washing soda ( can be hard to find )
    1 grated bar of Fels Naptha or Zote soap ( I prefer Zote )

    Mix together in a trash bag so it is evenly distributed, Makes about 100+ ounces for about $6 That much powdered Tide is about $16
    You only use about 1/2 of a cup per load - no more than that.
    Last edited by Mavourneen; 01-01-2009 at 12:47 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hunertime View Post
    Mavourneen, Thank you How did you learn all these tricks?
    It was actually another savings website I found last June: afullcup.com Very informative and like here, the people are great.

    I visit a number of frugality and savings forums. I like here and afullcup.com the best.

    Grainlady's comment about stacking savings is also a great idea. If you can stockpile when you stack...well, then you are golden!

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    Registered User frugalfriend's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grainlady View Post
    -I purchase a 5-gallon bucket of Charlie's Soap for laundry, which will last us at least 3.5 years (9-cents per load). Because I use Charlie's Soap, I never need softener because it leaves no soap residue and clothes are soft without softeners - so that's a huge savings. Another benefit - less packaging waste than purchasing bottles/boxes of detergent and softener.
    I had never heard of Charlie's Soap before, so I googled it. It looks interesting! Do you order yours online? Or where do you get it?

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    Registered User Marie78's Avatar
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    Candy you are an inspiration! I think you are doing great even without coupons. I also wish I had space for a freezer. We rent an apartment and it seems like a freezer would be a huge help to stockpile deals on meats and dairy. I always feel blessed when I hit the grocery store on the same day they have marked down meat for quick sale (when I asked them when they do this they wouldn't give me a definite answer...so it's hit or miss, but still a great find).

    I make my own cleaners, but haven't tried my own laundry soap yet (this year I will when we run out of our stockpile of detergents).

    Thank you for your suggestions. I think it's amazing how you coordinate your stores to shop for the best deals and use up what you stockpile before it goes bad. I don't have a freezer, but I have tried to stockpile dried and canned goods and it's a challenge to make sure the food is used before the expiration date...in fact I think I need to visit that stockpile today and start menu planning. You have inspired me .

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    Registered User spyzvixxen's Avatar
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    I purchase multiple papers & use the binder method. Since my primary store allows up to 4 coupons per item, I purchase 4 papers. I then visit a couponing site for previews on sales. If there is anything really really good I will order in quantity off of eBay.

    Don't use a coupon just for the sake of using the coupon. If you don't use the product then it's a waste time, money and storage space. I know it's the "thrill of the hunt" initially. I just donated 20 tubes of toothpaste and 15 deodorants. Less clutter. Those items go on sale every other week anyway and I now plan to only get them if the store pays me to take them.

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    There are different systems out there. I like couponmom. The site monitors many of the major chain stores,(includingCVS etc.) and matches them to the coupons in the paper. She suggests that you never cut a coupon until you need it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kita View Post
    There are different systems out there. I like couponmom. The site monitors many of the major chain stores,(includingCVS etc.) and matches them to the coupons in the paper. She suggests that you never cut a coupon until you need it.
    The thing about couponing is you have to try a few organizational methods until you hot upon the one that is right for you. I used the accordion file for a while - but I was missing coupons, and had a lot of expireds in there. Same with the file box method. I've never tried the "don't cut until you need it" method but I could see myself losing track of which insert had what coupon.

    I switched to the 3 ring binder method, and I'm pleased. I keep better track of my coupons, and am much more likely to use before expiring. I buy my coupons online - in multiples - so I only really have coupons for items I know I will use.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mavourneen View Post
    It was actually another savings website I found last June: afullcup.com Very informative and like here, the people are great.

    I visit a number of frugality and savings forums. I like here and afullcup.com the best.

    Grainlady's comment about stacking savings is also a great idea. If you can stockpile when you stack...well, then you are golden!
    Holy smokes, that's an impressive site! I've been floating around frugal boards for years and I never heard of this site before. Thanks for sharing.

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    Registered User jilly_beans's Avatar
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    Thanks for the tips. I have never couponed because we usually buy generic.
    We don't have a CVS anywhere near us nor a store that double coupons.
    But, I am going to check out a few of these sites you mentioned and see what I can accomplish.
    Oh, how I love the thrill of the hunt!

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    Quote Originally Posted by frugalfriend View Post
    I had never heard of Charlie's Soap before, so I googled it. It looks interesting! Do you order yours online? Or where do you get it?
    frugalfriend -

    I ordered Charlie's Soap online - shipping was free. I've never seen it in local stores, but then, I live out in the middle of nowhere!

    Edited to add:

    After trying to figure every-which-way to determine the bargain price of TP, I did a bunch of tests and ran a lot of numbers. What it came down to was NOT the number of sheets or plys, etc., it came down to the weight of a roll of TP to figure the unit price.

    I quickly learned to disregard all other measures because some sheets are not as large as others - so counting sheets was meaningless - double rolls are not always "double". Plys - they can be different thicknesses that you can't begin to figure.

    If you don't want to do the math, the bottom line was make sure the roll wasn't soft and squishy when you do the old Charmine Squeeze on it. You don't want much "give" at all.

    American Fare (K-Mart) Double Roll (12-pk) ON SALE was the least expensive AND lasts the longest. Be careful, they have 2 different types of this - you want the one that doesn't give when you squeeze the roll. The roll was also about 1/4-inch shorter than other brands. SCOTT - with a coupon is a close second. Pom - often thought to be a bargain (found at Sam's Club) wasn't a bargain at all.
    Last edited by Grainlady; 01-03-2009 at 03:13 PM.

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