OK, I've been watching too many shows of Extreme Couponing on TLC! I once tried to coupon a couple of years ago but I gave up because I thought it took too much time and many of the coupons were for foods that we don't eat, but I've changed my mind! Once I saw this show, I had to try it! I saw the stockpiles of toilet paper, paper towels, toothpaste, etc. and I thought, this can't be any harder than doing all these diets! I have to try it! I think if you have a competitive spirit, couponing is for you! It's a challenge, but it's also fun. I just started couponing about a month ago, very slowly. I started by ordering the Sunday paper. It's much cheaper to have it delivered than to pay $2.50 at the store. If you do get it from the store, just make sure the coupons are enclosed! We made this mistake the first time. They all come wrapped in plastic in the middle, and sometimes people steal them or they fall out. If you can't afford to get a paper, don't worry. There are plenty of coupons online, though you will need a printer to print them. To save money on paper, try flipping over the paper and printing on the opposite side when coupons only print on one end.
Next, you need to sign up on a couponer's web site or blog to get e-mails of the week's deals at different stores. I signed up on http://www.moneysavingmom.com/ but there are many. On her web site, once you sign up, you will be given the option to sign up for particular stores that you shop at. I signed up for Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, Meijer, Wal-Mart, Target, Walgreens, CVS, Jewel, and Dominick's. They will e-mail the deals for the week, along with what coupons to use, and where you can find those coupons. That's the hardest part. You then have to get those coupons. They might be in the Sunday paper, online at the store's web site, in a mailer that comes to your house on Thursday called the Red Plum, or elsewhere. Oftentimes they will link to the web site that has the coupon, but if you're not quick, they might be gone. Some stores will only allow so many coupons to be downloaded, and once they are gone, they are no longer offered. Other places, like Target will allow you to print one coupon only twice per computer. If you have a friend or relative, you might be able to get them to print out two more for you.
I'm starting out slowly, but in the last month, I've been able to get Nexcare band-aids for free or I made 32 cents. Nexcare was offering a $1 off coupon on their web site. This is called a manufacturer's coupon because it is offered by the company making the product. You can often stack these with store coupons. I had no idea you could do this. So, this week, Target had a sale on Nexcare band-aids. They were on sale for $1.68 (normally $1.96 I believe). They also had coupons on Target's web site for $1 off Nexcare band-aids. I used both coupons for $1 off each. One time I used them, I got $.32 back towards my other purchases. Another time, the register would only take off $.68, making them free. I think it may have to do with the order the coupons are scanned. I'm thinking, I need to have them scan the Target coupon first, then the manufacturer coupon. Target had the character band-aids which my kids are loving! And just in time too, as they just learned to ride their bikes without training wheels! Something about picking out a Scooby-Doo band-aid makes the crying stop and the pain go away. :)
The week before, I went to Wal-Mart, and they have regular Nexcare band-aids (20) for $1 regularly, so I used one manufacturer coupon, and got the box for free. We are all stocked up on band-aids now! I plan to mail some to Africa though. We have friends who are missionaries in Malawi, and I have volunteered for their non-profit for a number of years. They run a Christian organization and have adopted 25 kids as their own to get them off the streets. I have heard that band-aids are much needed in Africa because it helps stop the spread of AIDS. If a child is bleeding, they want to get a band-aid on it as soon as possible. They also want to keep it from getting infected because they are walking around outside in the dirt without shoes often and cuts can get infected easily. And these are light and easy to mail, so I will be getting lots of band-aids. Below is the web site that I got the coupon from, but it may not be there for long. Another good Target deal was Up & Up brand pantiliners for $.14. I had my 10 year old son with me and he picked up the box and said "What are pant-a-leeners?" I had a good laugh. These coupons are on their web site again this week.
Next, comes Whole Foods. My record is spending over $400 in one shopping trip, but a normal trip is usually close to $300. I usually get there about twice a month, so when I found out they offer coupons on their web site... well, yippee! Finally, I found coupons for healthy food! I knew Seventh Generation had coupons on their web site. You can only print out two, and then you have to wait I think it's a month till you can print out more.
My big score was So Delicious coconut milk. We had just switched over to using these instead of rice milk. WF had $1 off coupons on their web site, and on the Internet was manufacturer coupons. I was able to get a few off the Internet. Sometimes you can find a couple different sources and print two at each. So Delicious had some on their web site, and I found two more on another (can't remember now). On WF's web site, you can print out as many as you want, so I printed LOTS because they don't expire till 8/31/11, and we go through a box every couple of days. The milks also don't expire for at least 6 months. Went to Whole Foods and found more So Delicious coupons in their in store flier that is located at the front of the store. These contain the coupons listed on the web site, along with coupons from Mambo Sprouts.
The Mambo Sprouts coupons are different from manufacturer coupons, and different from the WF coupons. To top it off, they were on sale for $2 each! Yea! Normally, they are about $2.69 each. Then, if you buy a case of something (12), you get an additional 10% off (20 cents), making them $1.80 each, and I profited $.20 each. Wait, there's more! I then went to the ice cream aisle to get my daughter's favorite So Delicious coconut milk ice cream that she eats every day. On top of some of the ice creams were peely coupons for $2 off and $1 off So Delicious products. So, I used some of those too!
I'm not sure how much money I made on these, but they took all of my coupons. I believe I made $1.80 on some of the coconut milks. I asked at the customer service desk, and they said if the coupons go over what the product actually costs (overage), than you can apply that money to the rest of your bill. So, I had enough coupons to get 18 coconut milks for absolutely free or I made money! I would've gotten more, but the sale was over the next day. I'll wait till we run out or they go on sale again to use the rest of my $1 off coupons. I think the ones on the web might be gone, or I can't print any more from my computer.
This weekend, I got another deal at Whole Foods - Seventh Generation products. They had liquid dishwashing soap (the kind for hand washing dishes) on sale for $2.50. I had a WF's coupon for $1 off, and a Seventh Gen coupon for $1 off, making these $.50 each. I also got some regular dishwasher soap that was also on sale. Those ended up costing $2 each instead of $5 that I usually pay. Got a roll of toilet paper for free, plus made $.81. It looked like the very thin toilet paper so I didn't want to get a lot. Then I got a couple bottles of Honest Tea for free. They were on sale for $1 and I had coupons for $1 off that I printed off of http://www.recyclebank.com/. This is another good web site that you have to sign up for. You earn points by taking short quizzes and other things, and then you can buy coupons with your points. This week, they have Honest Tea coupons available. These are also on sale at Woodman's this week for $1. I got two other free tea coupons on Facebook for Lipton Natural Ice Tea. If you go to their FB page, you can print out two. You're supposed to "Like" them, but I didn't need to for some reason. They were just there. My husband likes these.
Next came copy paper. Office Depot had a 20% off any item coupon on their web site. They also had Hammermill copy plus paper running a rebate for around $5. This made the paper free after rebate! I wasn't able to get to an Office Depot before my coupon expired because we don't have one near us, but I plan to find out if the rebate is still running. That would have been nice to get free paper to print out all these coupons! Oh well. I'll catch the next one.
At Target, I got some light bulbs for $.25 each by stacking a Target web site coupon with a manuf coupon from my Sunday paper, and they were on sale. While shopping here, I saw an extreme couponer! Of course, I had to talk to them. She had her big binder filled with coupons and they were loading their cart with Gatorade. I asked her if she was getting a good deal. She gave me her extra Jewel flier. She said Jewel had them on sale for $.50 each and if you take Jewel's flier to the customer service desk with the Gatorade, they will match the price. So, I got 10 big bottle of Gatorade...for hubby of course! Wouldn't feed that garbage to my kids. Loaded with dyes. Hubby doesn't care what he eats.
But, I discovered the art of price matching! Target will price match only if you go up to the customer service desk with the product, but Wal-Mart will price match anything as long as you show the ad to the cashier. I did this yesterday. Jewel had Pepsi on sale (we own a pop vending machine), but I needed to go to Wal-Mart, so I brought the ad, got my pop, and asked the cashier to price match. She didn't even wince, just asked to see the ad. Love it! I plan to do this often! I'm not sure yet if Meijer's will price match, but I plan to ask.
I think the biggest thing I had to get used to, was making sure I buy the smallest/cheapest version of an item. I have the Sam's Club mindset, thinking that you get a discount by buying in bulk. Not so with couponing! Just the opposite. When I bought light bulbs, I had coupons worth $1.50. If I bought the bigger pack, I would've spent more money out of pocket, so I got the smaller 4 pack that was on sale for $2.50. If I need more light bulbs than that, I just go back with more coupons, or wait till I can acquire more coupons and they're on sale again.
And, I was wrong! There are coupons for healthy foods! You just have to look for them. They likely won't show up on your doorstep on Sunday morning, though there are a few. They are online, at each individual manufacturers web sites, in your health food stores' fliers, on the products themselves, etc. Stores are starting to tape them to the products or right on the shelves. Now I'm starting to look for them. We found some good 7th Generation coupons at Wal-Mart. No, I don't take all of them - just a couple. I've started going to the web sites of the products we buy from and looking for coupons. Often, they are right there, or you have to sign up for their newsletter or site, and they will mail or e-mail them to you.
If you are GFCF, they have coupons too! I have gotten coupons from the manufacturer for Enjoy Life, Back to Nature, Envirokids, Erewhon, Pacific Foods, Imagine, Applegate, Rudi's, Organicville, etc. Do a search online for organic food coupons. Find the web sites for the foods you eat, and sign up for their coupons. It takes time, but wait, and your mailbox and inbox will start to fill up with coupons.
http://www.moneysavingmom.com/ has a TON of info. You can get free samples mailed to your house, sign up for birthday freebies. We have 6 people in our family, so I sign up everybody. We have birthdays starting in June each month all the way through September. There are so many ways to save money. I plan on doing a little bit every day. Open a separate yahoo e-mail account just for this purpose if you want. I haven't gotten too many spam e-mails yet though. I think companies are conscious of that and don't want to lose you as an e-mail recipient. Proctor and Gamble (PandG) is a good one to sign up for too. They'll mail coupons to your house periodically.
Next, there is the world of trading coupons! I haven't done this yet, but plan to. I signed up on http://www.hotcouponworld.com/. You can trade your Sunday paper coupons to others for the coupons you need. You just post what you have and what you need and trade. There are also a few yahoo groups that are set up just for this purpose too. You can also buy or sell coupons on E-Bay oddly enough. I am looking for someone to trade for printables. Many of the things I use, I download and you are limited to two coupons per printer.
Anyways, I'm hoping to find one deal per week and my goal is to get paper towels and toilet paper for free! With 4 kids, we go through a lot of this stuff! The key is to be patient, buy things when they are on sale, buy the smallest/cheapest version of the item so your coupon goes farther, stack them with a store coupon and then a manufacturer coupon, and when you find a good deal, stock up on it!
A few other good web sites:
There are MANY!!! Just pick one and start reading.
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