So, you’re wanting to coupon, but you have no idea where to start. You have friends that save big bucks at the store, and you want to know how to do it, too.
You know what? I can help you with that. 🙂
When I first started couponing, the main sources for coupons were in the Sunday paper and online. Now there are loads of places where you can find coupons! But how do you go about getting them? Do you need anything special?
Yes, there are a few coupon tools that you’ll actually need if you want to coupon effectively. Some coupons can only be obtained by going to your computer and printing them onto a printer. Some coupons can be obtained through your smartphone. Last but not least, you’ll need to buy a Sunday newspaper to get the coupons available there.
Also, every couponer has her own “system” for couponing. You’ll need one of these if you’re in it for the long haul.
In today’s post, I hope you’ll learn some valuable information about the coupon tools you need so you can be on the road to couponing like a pro!
If you already have one sitting around – great! Put it to use! If you don’t have a printer, I have a suggestion based on two factors. First, you want a printer that only prints in black ink. It will save you money in the long run to only buy black ink cartridges instead of black and color cartridges. Stores do not care if you have color coupons! Secondly, buy a printer with mobile/wireless print capabilities. I’m suggesting this because that’s the type of printer that I’m currently in the market for – my current printer has just about gone kaput!
With those two considerations in mind, I like the Brother Compact Laser Printer. It has both capabilities that I mentioned above, plus the price really is quite good considering the performance it offers. The reviews are great (which is always an important selling point for me), and you can get compatible toner cartridges for as low as $11! (My current printer requires both black and color cartridges, and I definitely pay more than $11 for them…and they don’t last nearly as long!)
This is pretty much a given, but I wanted to list it for the record. You can do so much with your phone as it relates to couponing! Not only can you print coupons from your smartphone, you can also download different types of apps that stretch your savings further. Here are the apps that I use the most:
- Krazy Coupon Lady – this app saves me more time than any other. I simply add my favorite stores, then as new offers for those stores become available, they show up in my store feed. I don’t have to go hunting for deals – they do all the work for me!!! They also have a website at thekrazycouponlady.com, but I prefer the app more. Small disclosure, though…some coupons/advertisements are regional and may not be available in your area.
- Ibotta – I have been recommending this app to everyone I know simply because there are so many rebates available through it. I won’t dive into all that again, but you can visit this link to find out how much Ibotta has helped me save.
- Checkout 51, MobiSave, Savingstar – additional apps very similar to Ibotta, and all are worth downloading to your smartphone.
- Shopkick – this app gives you points when you walk into certain stores, scan products, and for purchasing select products. You turn your kicks into gift cards!
- Fetch Rewards – this is new to me, but I love it! Similar to Shopkick, you’ll earn points for your purchases that you can turn into gift cards. They have specific products that they feature, but even if you haven’t bought any of those things, don’t let that deter you! When you download the app, you can scan all your receipts from the past two weeks, and earn points for them. I scanned all my receipts from this past weekend, and I’m already over 4,000 points! That’s pretty sweet – considering I didn’t have to do anything extra! 🙂 To download this app, simply search for “Fetch Rewards” in your app store, and when prompted, enter code PR6UM for an additional 1,500 points.
- Walgreens/Kroger/Target/Dollar General – all of these apps allow you to download coupons directly to your account. No clipping, no fuss! Just supply your phone number, shopper’s card, or app barcode (Target) to apply your coupons when you check out.
Out of all the coupon tools mentioned here, a newspaper is the easiest to obtain. Don’t feel bad if you don’t have a printer or a smartphone – you can still save some serious $$ with just the weekly coupon inserts in the Sunday paper.
Some companies offer coupons in both the Sunday paper and through their website online. However, I’ve found several times that the Sunday paper coupons tend to have higher values. Therefore, I buy more than one. When a sale comes along (such as several Walgreens sales lately that have resulted in .99 laundry detergent), I want to have more than one coupon ready to use.
In my area, there are folks that set up little stands on the side of the road and they sell newspapers for $1 (it costs $2 at the store or more for delivery). I’ve already made it a part of my Sunday routine to get up early and get 4 newspapers – just for the coupons.
Now, if you’re really pinching pennies, do not be ashamed to ask your friends/relatives/coworkers for their coupon inserts (assuming they won’t be using them). I personally already have a source for one of my 4 Sunday papers, and she offered her coupons to me willingly! Don’t be afraid to ask.
If you’re new to couponing, you might find yourself saving this step for last. Out of all the coupon tools I’ve mentioned, this is the one that will save your sanity. If you don’t develop one quickly, you’ll find yourself with random coupons everywhere. It’s overwhelming.
It takes time to find an organizational system that works for you. You may decide to use a little coupon box/folder to sort your coupons. That’s what I used when I first started, but now, it no longer suits my needs. You may decide to get a binder with clear inserts that are made for baseball cards. Going this route will have you lugging that thing to the store and sorting through it each trip – not my cup of tea.
Here’s what I’ve found that works for me…
I keep all my newspaper inserts intact, and they’re sorted by week. Each insert cover has little tiny writing on the folded edge that will include the date. You can refer to that, or write the date with a Sharpie on the front page. Either way, it will help you keep all like coupon inserts together. From there, you can put them into an accordion folder or large box with folders/sections. There are TONS of options for this, and my suggestion would just be to find something that’s functional, sturdy, and inexpensive. Your going to be rifling through this box on a regular basis, so it needs to be sturdy.
Now obviously, I’m not going to lug this box to the store with me on each trip. That’s way too much hassle. When I’m ready to go to the store, I have a different system in place.
- Use the Krazy Coupon Lady app to see what deals are being offered for that week. Each deal will tell you what the expected regular/full/sale price will be at the store (remember, these can vary slightly by region). Along with the price will be the coupons that you’ll need to have on hand or downloaded to your shopper’s card when you’re ready to checkout. If there are any rebates available through Ibotta, Checkout 51, MobiSave or Savingstar, those will be listed, too. For each deal you want to get, you’ll check the little circle beside it to add it to your list.
- Use the list feature and start gathering your coupons. If you need to clip paper coupons from your Sunday inserts, the instructions will look something like this: Use $1.00/2 – Suave Essentials Body Wash Products from RP 5/14. What that means is that you’ll go to your Red Plum (RP) inserts from 5/14 and look for the Suave Body Wash coupon for $1.00 off when you purchase 2.
- If there are any internet coupons that need to be printed, I do that next. Each deal will tell you exactly which website to go to.
- If you need to clip a digital coupon to a store rewards card, do that next. There’s nothing worse than waiting to do this at the store, and I promise, you’ll end up in a dither. Plan, plan, plan!
- Paper clip all your coupons together, put ’em in your purse, and head to the store!
Now, I also keep a handful of random coupons with me at all times. These are coupons that I may only have 1 of, may be the last few from an old newspaper insert that haven’t expired yet, or may be coupons that I went through all the steps above to get, but decided not to use them for some reason. I keep them on hand because I never know when they might come in handy. For example, I check the clearance section/shelf at every store I go to. It never fails that I find something on clearance that I can combine with these random coupons. It’s important to always keep some extra coupons on hand!!!
There’s no one size fits all when it comes to coupon organization, but it’s very important that you have a system. Just do something that works for you. 🙂
I hope you’ve learned some valuable info here, and that you’re on the road to couponing like a pro! If you’re already a pro, what are some of the coupon tools that you’ve found to be invaluable?
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