START COUPONING

When you start on this venture I guarantee you will feel information overload!  I hope that my simple techniques for beginners can teach you how to be a super couponer or a coupon queen!  As with learning anything it will take time, you will make mistakes, but eventually it will become second nature to you.
Couponing is about combining weekly store sales with manufactures coupons for the lowest price possible.  Then stockpiling the things on sale each week.  Couponers do not shop the grocery store for the things we NEED for the week.  We already have items on hand in our cabinet for our weekly needs, and focus on all the sale items to keep our cabinets stocked.  But we didn't begin that way, we had to start slow, and build a stock pile.

Items typically go through a 8-12 week sale cycle, and the price of an item will vary during the 12 weeks, but ONE week it will be at it's rock bottom sale price, and not go on sale for another 8-12 weeks at that price again.  One week it maybe on sale for $2.50, another week $1.85, another week $1.50.  So basically we only buy items on sale at their lowest price, pair it with a coupon to buy it 50% to 75% of it's retail value.  Buy watching sales and pairing them with coupons YOU can also starting savings like the couponers you hear about all the time!

COLLECT COUPONS



Start getting the Sunday newspaper.  That is EASY.  Get one delivered to your house (Discount Newspaper Subscriptions), then go out and buy 1-3 more to get your coupon collection started.  Buy as many newspapers as there are members in your household in an even number.  Why an even number?  Because if there is a buy on get one (B1G1) sale, you will be able to use two coupons, one for the free item another for the one you are purchasing!

There will be three different kinds of inserts:

SS - Smart Source


RP - Red Plum


P&G - Procter and Gamble


Every week will be different inserts, sometimes you get all of these inserts other weeks one or two.
List of insert schedules, and what coupons will be in each insert.   
*Note - that not all regions get the same inserts, $$ off and coupons will vary
THE COUPON CLIPPERS
SUNDAY COUPON PREVIEW

Looking for a certain coupon from a Sunday insert?  Look here:
COUPON TOM
HOTCOUPONWORDS COUPON DATABASE

*Note: On most holiday weekends the Sunday paper will not have inserts in them.  So be sure to check the website above to determine if it's worth buying extra papers.

Visit my FIND COUPONS page to find more ways to find coupons.

FIND YOUR FILING STYLE and PICK A GROCERY LIST TECHNIQUE
Decide what kind of filing method you are going to use, binder, accordion file or filing inserts whole and clipping only when you are going to use a coupon.  Go to my ORGANIZE THOSE COUPONS page to decide.

It is a must to make a shopping list when you going shopping.  This will cut down on impulse buys and you won't have to back track through the store.  Visit my MAKE A SHOPPING LIST page to help plan your shopping trip.

KNOW YOUR COUPON!

Know how to read a coupon!  Be sure you purchase the amount required to use the coupon.  Sometimes you have to buy 2 items to use the coupon.  Registers will beep if you don't purchase the required amount, and the cashier will not allow you to use the coupon.  And although the coupon pictures one item, it maybe used for other items.  So read that coupon carefully!

One coupon per purchase - Means on coupon per item, you can buy 4 shampoos and use 4 coupons, one for each
One coupon per transaction - Means you can only use ONE of the same coupon for that transaction.  Get around this by splitting up your transactions.
Do Not Double - If it states this on the coupon, but the number code on the bottom starts with a 5, that coupon WILL double regardless.  If the coupon starts with a 9, it WILL NOT double.
Manufactures Coupon - is issued by the manufacture
Store Coupon - is issued by the store
You CAN use a Manufactures coupon AND a store coupon on ONE item, this is called STACKING.  So if shampoos is on sale for $2.50, and there is a $1 manufactures coupon AND $1.00 off store coupon, you can use them on the ONE shampoo.  I have NOT had an issue doing this in any of the stores I shop, CVS, Target, Walgreens etc.  But be sure to check your stores policy, they usually state that it is allowed.

Good reads: Be a Confident Shopper by Understanding Coupons by Hip2Save

PICK YOUR STORES

Pick out one or two stores you frequent and start couponing at those stores.  Sign up for store shopper cards or loyalty cards, and use it every time you shop so you get the sales price.  Learn your stores coupon policy, do they double coupons, take printable coupons, limit coupons etc., print it off and keep it in your binder.  As you learn and become comfortable with using coupons, start learning how to shop CVS or Walgreens.  It can be an art form learning the rules, but really it's not too bad!  You will get most of your personal items for FREE at those stores.

FIND A BLOG OR WEBSITE

Pick out two blogs or websites that you can find your grocery store match ups at.  There are lots of great couponing bloggers that will take your store ad, figure out what is on sale and match a coupon to it.  Less work for you!  Some bloggers are very thorough with match-ups and some just list the BEST deals.  You may have to shop around a little, but eventually you will find your favorites. This is just to start with, when you feel like you want to follow more blogs and can handle it, go for it.  Not all blogs find all the deals, so I find its better to follow more than two to find them.  I find it easier to read blogs in a RSS reader.  You don't have to go to all the sites, it's one place to read all your favorite blogs.   Google "RSS reader" to find one.  I use Feed Demon or google reader has one that you can access in you google account.

Reading match ups on blogs can be like reading a foreign language.  I found this very helpful!

“Couponer’s Lingo” is enough to make any Coupon Virgin’s head spin… Hopefully this will help!
Ever seen something like this on KCL- B1G1 w/$2/1 from (3/15RP) & earn RR, then submit MIR (YMMV)
It’s almost laughable how ridiculous the code of couponers is!!
Once you figure it out though, it’s a piece of cake!

Go to my COUPON BLOGS/WEBSITE page to find a local blogger
Also learn the COUPON LINGO

A BUDGET CAN HELP

Set a budget on how much you can spend on stockpiling food and groceries that are needed.  Maybe you set aside $20 a week for stock up items, and $100 a week for groceries.  Your budget will decrease over time.  But in order to stockpiling I found I spent more in the beginning than I usually did.  After 2-3 months, my spending went down to about $100 per week.

I did not do this, and I ended up spending $30-$50 more each week for the first few months.  But if you start slow and don't jump in over your head, you won't need to do that.  I had to get every drugstore deal, and I sure did, but I ended up spending WAY more to begin with because I was excited on the GREAT deals!

WHEN SHOULD I USE MY COUPONS?

Don't worry about using those coupons right away.  Keep making your grocery lists, and If you need an item and have a coupon go ahead and use it even if it's not on sale.  It's OKAY, you are just getting started and you NEED food!  If an item you use seems at pretty low sale price to you and the coupon makes it lower, use all your coupons and stock up on it.   Don't worry about a coupon expiring.  Don't use it just because it's expiring, trust me, you will spend more money this way!

A pricebook and a menu plan can help you determine items you would like to stockpile.  A pricebook is like a journal to track the sale cycles of items you buy.  And a menu plan is a list of meals with their ingredients.  Then you have a list of ingredients you would like to stockpile and possibly track in a pricebook to determine it's lowest sale price.

Free printable pricebooks:
SOUTHERNSAVERS PRICEBOOK
ORGANIZED LIVING PRICEBOOK - BLANK
MONEY SAVING MOM PRICEBOOK
PINCHING YOUR PENNIES EXCEL PRICEBOOKS

Some printable meal planners:
ORGANIZED HOME MEAL PLANNER
THE PROJECT GIRL MEAL PLANNER
BETTER BUDGETING MEAL PLANNER

START YOUR STOCKPILE

Stockpile when an item seems to be at it's rock bottom price!  So if you find pasta on sale for $.89 and you have a coupons $1/2, making it $.39, STOCK UP!  Use all your coupons for this sale.  It won't be at that price again for at least 12 weeks!  Get a RAINCHECK if the shelves are empty.  Stores will honor a price if they are all sold out by issuing a raincheck so you can go back when it is in stock and still get the sale price, and I've heard they will also honor your coupons if they expire before they get the item back in stock.  I've never run into this problem.

ORGANIZED LIVING offers a great Inventory List Printables:
FREEZER INVENTORY
PANTRY INVENTORY
Read my page on STOCKPILING (coming soon)

START SHOPPING THE DRUGSTORES

After a month of collecting coupons and doing some grocery shopping with coupons you should have confidence with using coupons, a good routine going, know the coupon lingo and rules and how to stack them with a store coupon.  It's time to start the drugstore game!  The drugstores are where you can score some AWESOME deals on personal items.

*Note* I think it's best to start couponing the grocery stores to begin.  It's easy to get started, and there aren't as many rules and policies like the drugstores.  If you try to take on the grocery store deals and drugstore deals all at once, you may get overwhelmed!  But if you already have a little couponing knowledge, then go for it whenever you feel ready.

Next Steps
    Organize Your Coupons
    Find a Blogger or Website
    Learn the Coupon Lingo
    Find Coupons
    Make a Shopping List