Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Coupon Binder: Getting Started

After having my second son, it didn't make sense financially for me to return to work. With a toddler and a newborn and only my husband's income to pay the bills, I started looking for ways we could save money. The first thing was to cut back on "want" items and focus only on the items that we needed. The second was to start using coupons. I did some online research on how to coupon, and was instantly overwhelmed. With so much "extreme couponing" going on, it seemed like everyone had the hang of it. Everyone but me, that is. I obviously knew how to clip coupons and use them at the store, but it boggled my mind how extremers could go into a store, buy hundreds of dollars worth of items and pay almost nothing. I have by no means mastered that talent and probably never will, but I have been able to save money on groceries and baby items during our weekly shopping trips. Here is a look at how I organized my coupon binder:

The first step is to obtain some coupons, right? Coupons are EVERYWHERE! The Sunday newspaper has coupon inserts from Red Plum, Smart Source and P&G Brand Saver (my personal favorite since I have a slight obsession with cleaning products). You can find out which inserts will be in your Sunday paper  by looking at a weekly insert schedule. I use one from Coupon Mom, which can be found here. I suggest getting your hands on at least two of each insert. That way you will have two copies of each coupon in case your store is having a Buy 1 Get 1 Fee sale. You can use a coupon even on the free item! My family saves their inserts for me, and I will sometimes buy an additional paper, usually when the P&G Brand Saver comes out.

You can also find digital coupons online at a particular store's website. They download to your store's member card and will be applied when the cashier scans your card at checkout. These are typically manufacturer's coupons, and cannot be combined with any other coupon. Some stores, like Target, Kmart, Lowe's Food, etc. have their own store coupon which can be combined with a manufacturer's coupon which will really help maximize your savings. (More on this later.)

Thanks to the couponing frenzy, coupons are also available all over the Internet. Most stores accept printed coupons, but some do not. Always make sure to check the latest coupon policy from your store website or manager. If I have something on my shopping list that I don't have a coupon for, I always do a Google search to see if I can find one. Why pay full price if you don't have to? There are almost always printable coupons out there for diapers and baby wipes, a must for any mom with little ones!

Now that you know how to find coupons, the next step is getting them in order. The next post will discuss different options for sorting and organizing your coupons.

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