After we did our piece on saving money at the grocery store, Breezy Mama heard that, Yes!, you know that you need to clip coupons, but the thought of doing it, and knowing where to look for them, was too overwhelming to actually do it. So, we’re here to help! Wanting to make your life easier, Breezy Mama turned to Teri Storelli , founder of the Discount Dame, who teaches you step-by-step on how to get the process started. Take a deep breath, read, and then get out those scissors!
Many of our readers are overwhelmed by the thought of clipping coupons. If you can recommend one place for them to turn to for coupons, where would it be?
Coupons.com is one of the most popular online coupon sites and for good reason. They offer a wide variety of coupons for products you buy every day. But if you really want to save big your going to need to find a coupon blog that covers stores in your region. The find deals for you, offer coupon match ups to save you time, and usually offer up giveaways, find free samples, and are home to a multitude of frugal living tips and tricks.
Where can a “coupon blog” be found?
I’d love to share my site www.discountdame.com for couponers in California, when it comes to the southern states www.mommyoctopus.com is a great resource. I am very aware of my internet surroundings and so is she, we only post legit offers, not fake contests, no selling information, and no hidden agendas. I always test everything new I find out and wait at least 3 months to post if I think there is any scam possibility to it and I know she has high standards for the deals she passes along as well. If the reader can’t find their favorite store or stores their looking for through my blog or Erin’s they can simply Google their store’s name followed by the phrase “Coupon Matchup” and that will help link them up with a helpful blog or two or ten. I encourage new couponers to shop around for blogs, finding the perfect coupon blog for you is just like finding that perfect pair of heels. You have to try them on, test them out, and make sure they don’t pinch your toes. The right “fit” is key.
What websites are best for coupons?
One of the most common ways people get turned off when they start couponing is by getting scammed and spammed. To avoid getting scammed stick to sites that are secure, I use Coupons.com, CouponNetwork.net, RedPlum.com, SavingStar.com, and other special offers direct from the manufacturers website or Facebook page. Coupon blogs are also another great coupon resource and many will provide coupon links in their matchups.
Should a person pay to use a coupon site?
The only time you should ever have to pay for coupons is if your buying the Sunday paper or if your ordering them from a clipping service. Sites that charge you to print coupons are not legit. What is a clipping service you ask? If there is a coupon out there that you need more of, example: you can get a bottle shampoo free with a $1 off coupon from the Sunday paper and you want to get 20 free bottles instead of one you can order coupons for a small fee so that you don’t have to dumpster dive for them. The Discount Dame does not dumpster dive fyi.
What about newspaper circulars—if one doesn’t receive the newspaper, is it worth it to purchase the Sunday paper?
I run a coupon blog and I don’t subscribe to the newspaper. I’m very lucky though because I have parents that are willing to fork over their coupons every week. Newspaper inserts are very valuable so if you don’t subscribe ask around the office, PTA, or call up mom and dad to get some coupons flowing your way. If you do buy a Sunday paper just for the coupons a word of caution when heading to the news stand: Always check your paper for inserts before you buy it. There are some Extreme-ly rude Couponers who steal inserts out of papers. That is poor coupon etiquette, and you can actually be fined and sentenced to jail or community service for swiping coupon inserts.
Many people talk about shopping online—what are the best online sites for groceries?
Shopping online is a great resource for things like shampoo, jewelery, electronics, and many other products. The online savings as far as grocery items are concerend are not as great. You can stumble across great deals at Amazon.com, Target.com or Walmart.com on things like K-cups and other non-perishables but the biggest savings on food are going to come when you catch the perfect storm of in-store clearance meets manufacturer coupon meets store coupon.
I’ve heard that Facebook has good deals, how do these work?
Facebook is a great place to find coupons and free samples. Usually a manufacturer will run a promotion on their Facebook page for a free sample or coupon that you have access to once you “Like” their page. Who has time to click around and find these? Coupon blogger’s get the inside scoop so be sure to like your favorite coupon blogger(s) to get the freebies and coupons delivered right to your feed.
One of the hardest parts about using coupons is to only purchase what you normally do—even though a coupon is $1 off Eskimo Pies—one shouldn’t use the coupon if they normally wouldn’t buy it. Any advice on this?
You really need to ask yourself “If money were no object would I buy this”. Just the other day I had a chance to get apple juice for $.35 per bottle which is a phenomenal deal, except for the fact we don’t drink apple juice at our house. Whether I have a million dollars in my purse or a crisp ten dollar bill apple juice isn’t on my list and so I passed. Was it hard to walk away and let that coupon go to waste? You bet, but if I had used it I would have wasted a bottle of apple juice and been out $.35.
What is the best way to organize coupons at home?
I tried the standard clip every coupon that comes your way and alphabetize it in a binder method…but it got boring and time consuming so I came up with my own method.
When I get the Sunday paper inserts I write the date on the cover with a large tip felt pen and file them in an accordion file under their name and in order by date. I keep this file in my coupon binder. When I have a few minutes I pull up an Excel spread sheet I call my Coupon Master List and type in the coupons from that Sunday’s paper like so:
Product Coupon Value Expiration Insert Name & Date
Advil BOGOFree Exp. 10/12/12 P&G Insert 1/1/12
Cheerios $1 off 2 Exp. 5/1/12 SS Insert 1/18/12
It only takes about 15 minutes to input all the new coupons in the paper each week and this way I only end up clipping the coupons I need from the inserts but I still have the Master List to check against when I find a great clearance sale in store.
When I find a great printable online coupon I print it out and file it in my binder. I have my binder set up with dividers representing categories like Canned Foods, Breakfast Items, Dairy, Personal Care, Home Care, and others to help me find the coupon I’m looking for quickly. I use business card and baseball card protector sheets to house my printed coupons so that I can flip through and find them easily. Each week as new coupons are put in I go through and pull out expired ones, I also check my Master Coupon List for expirees and delete them from the list.
When you enter the grocery store, how should we have our coupons organized?
Before you walk into the store you need to be ready for check out. What does that mean? Envelopes are your new best friend. All of the coupons you’ll need should be placed in an envelope with the store name and date written on the front (this is especially important if your going to multiple stores in one day or planning store trips in advance). If you have multiple transactions, meaning your buying one group of items, checking out, and then buying another group of items, be sure to use a new envelope for each transaction and number them. One of my favorite ways to make multiple transactions run more smoothly is to get a shopping cart and an additional hand basket for each transaction. Place the hand baskets in your cart and assign each a transaction number by placing the envelopes representing each transaction one per basket and as you shop file the item into the proper transaction basket. This will save you time and minimize mistakes at checkout.
Anything you’d like to add?
Preparing for your shopping trip is the most important and difficult part of couponing. Anyone can cut out a coupon, anyone can come up with a filing system that works for them, but creating a matchup is a daunting task if your going it alone. That’s where once again your coupon blogger is your knight in shining armor. Finding a site that posts a weekly matchup for your store is invaluable. Sit down at your computer, pull up your local coupon blog and check out the weekly matchup for your store. Here you’ll find a list of deals and corresponding coupons. Print a copy and high light the deals you’ll be picking up this trip, take the matchup with you as a references so you know just how many ounces that shampoo has to be and how many you’ll need to get the deal. Eventually you’ll be able to do your own matchups, or you might always lean on your blogger for support and that’s just fine with them.
Sign up for a class or host a party:
If your a hands on learner find a class or seminar near you and go, it will be well worth it. Be weary of expensive classes though, you shouldn’t have to pay much. A bonus to attending a seminar or class is that many couponer’s who teach them also offer pre-made binders! Don’t have a seminar or party happening near you? Ask around (Facebook and Twitter are great resources) to see if a friend of a friend coupons and have them over along with a few other interested friends for an informal training party.
Have Realistic Expectations:
You will not always save 90%. 90% savings requires 30 hours a week, just ask the Extreme Couponer’s of TLC. The first thing they tell you is the live, eat, breath, and sleep couponing. I don’t have that kind of time on my hands and odds are you don’t either. I spend about 2-4 hours a week planning my shopping trip and shopping total and I save between 50% and 80% depending on the store and the deals available that week.
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About Teri: Teri Storelli is the founder of DiscountDame.com and has devoted herself to sharing the art of frugal living with her ever expanding audience through her site and seminars as well as creating and distributing her own unique coupon binder and organizational system. A pioneer of the “Smart” Couponing movement, Teri is making extreme savings through coupons easy and accessible to all. Her frugal living and DIY expertise has been featured on GalTime, Yahoo Shine and CNN.com. Visit DiscountDame.com for more information or contact Teri at DiscountDame@gmail.com.