Friday, October 16, 2015

Getting Back on the Coupon Wagon


I have always had a love/hate relationship with coupons.  I know there is quite a bit of money to save when using them for things I normally buy...However, I just haven't been able to find a system that works for me.  I do NOT want to carry some large binder to the grocery store but I also really want to be able to keep my coupons organized and easily located.  And, most importantly I don't want to spend any cash coming up with a storage system!  As I was raiding my "school supplies" drawer, I had an idea....

At the bottom of the drawer was a black plastic notecard holder complete with the little elastic closure thingy.  I had bought it five years ago when G1 first started taking a language - thinking she could use it for vocabulary flashcards.  I don't know why I kept in but I'm glad I did!  For now I divided it into the following categories:
Pantry
Meat & Dairy
Bath & Beauty
Laundry & Paper Goods
Frozen
Baking, Breads, & Cereal
ECB's & Rebates

Little plastic tabs and notecards with the category names written on them will *hopefully* keep it semi organized.

But now where to get the coupons?

Approximately once per month or so my mom gives me a stack of coupons from her Sunday papers so I started clipping the big pile I had accumulated here.  (Sadly, I missed the expiration dates on quite a few since I started my new couponing adventure so late this month.)

I will check out (in earnest) the coupon section of Swagbucks to see what is available and print out anything I can use.

I will also research the big name/brands that we tend to use and join any loyalty programs and see if their websites offer up any coupons.

At least that is a start, right?

Can you help me out in my new quest?  Any helpful websites or tips you care to share?  And, how do YOU keep all your coupons organized and not miss expiration dates in the process?  

I would love to hear any advice you can offer!

Happy Friday!

14 comments:

  1. Good for you! I think the key to your frugal success will be not to get swayed into buying things just because you can get a good deal with a coupon, though. So may I suggest you decide what you need for the week FIRST and then pull whatever coupons you might have? If a coupon expires, it's not the end of the world. They're cyclical so they come back pretty often. The only exception is when they introduce a new product because then the coupons for it are of much higher value at the beginning and that's when the best deals happen, in my experience.

    I had written a very lengthy post about how I organize my coupons, I think you had read it but here it is again: http://imperfectlyfrugally.blogspot.com/2015/04/how-i-plan-my-weekly-shopping-trip-part_2.html

    I get my coupon inserts for free from the library when the donation pile has them since I don't know anyone who gets the paper. But the majority of my coupons are printable coupons. I follow major bloggers like SouthernSavers, TotallyTarget and IHeartPublix via feedly and just make notes of the deals they suggest (prices vary from state to state though so sometimes it doesn't work as well or better than what they suggested). If they are coupons.com coupons (you can tell from their link), I just print them from Swagbucks so I can get the 10 SB when I redeem them. Then I mark a small "SB" in pencil in one of the corners of the coupon so I can tell, if I have 2 similar coupons, which is the one that would give me SB (for instance if I printed a similar coupon from an e-newsletter).
    I print coupons every Sunday morning (as described in my post) as that's when most of them get released.
    I subscribe to the following e-newsletters (among others, I get a lot of them but here are the best ones) that provide me with additional coupons: gold'n plump chicken (JustBARE Chicken used to send coupons too but now they don't. It's the same company), BettyCrocker.com, Pillsbury.com, AlFresco.com, Homedepot garden club, a bunch of sites that partner with Publix and email me Publix store coupons, and a bunch of other brand-specific newsletters that I can't even recall right now. For the digital coupons, it's more tricky. I never remember what I uploaded. For Publix, I just do a screen shot of each coupon before I upload it and paste all the screen shots in a document that I print and clip like "real" coupons and file with the regular coupons. I know that they're manufacturer coupons for Publix only. For Walgreens and Winn Dixie, I upload coupons "just in case" since I don't shop there too much so I don't keep track of them. When I go there, I usually already have paper coupons pulled for specific deals.
    The apps... I used to try to use as many rebates as possible but it was making me spend too much money, even if I could get good deals. I'm trying to really only buy what we need, not build up a huge stockpile! Each app is different and works in different stores so it can be confusing to keep track of them all. Just remember that for SavingStar, they only offer a certain number of "uploads" per offer so as soon as you see that email telling you they have new offers, upload the ones that you think you might use to your account or you might not have access to them in the future even if they remain listed on the app (as I found out the hard way). Then make sure you know which stores qualify for each app. For instance, if you shop at Aldi, you can use Checkout 51 or Snap by Groupon as their apps are not store-specific for now. Snap hasn't offered anything interesting to me in months, though. SavingStar and Upromise are partners so if you upload an offer on one of those, it disappears from the line-up of the other so careful with that. I just got started again with iBotta so Alison would be better qualified to talk to you about that one.

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    1. Hmm, what else to tell you? I clean my coupon box at the end of the month. It would be very nice if all the manufacturers issued coupons with a (XX/30) expiration date so we don't have coupons expiring on December 2 or July 15 or what not. That's annoying! Some people sort their coupons by expiration date but again, for the reasons stated at the top of my long comment, I don't do that. If I miss a deal, I upset for 2 seconds and then I get over it and wait for the next one.

      I also collect Kellogg's codes so I can print high value Kellogg's coupons. You can also print Kellogg's coupons without redeeming codes, btw. There is a coupon section on their website (Kellogg's Family Rewards).

      That's all I can think of. I look up all the store weekly ads online before I go shopping. Blogs like SouthernSavers, TotallyTarget and IHeartPublix have ad previews several days in advance and even tell you which coupons to use to get what deals. Again, ymmv.

      Oh, and I take all the surveys on receipts if I can get a freebie or additional coupon from those and I file them with my coupons as well.

      Good luck! I hope you'll share your savings with us! Also let us know how your frugal (good thinking!) coupon organizer works for you. Mine is huge but honestly, I don't even use that many coupons anymore. It's more a kind of habit/hobby for me at this point. It's nice, though, to spot a surprise clearance at Target for instance and then have a coupon that I printed "just in case" in my organizer!
      Oh, I forgot: sign up for text coupons as well, if you have a smartphone. Target: text DEALS to 827-438 and download the Target app to your phone (their digital coupons are store coupons that are different from the paper ones). Also the Cartwheel app. You can pick your Cartwheel offers on your PC and print your bar code but having the phone app allows you to change/add the offers you want right in the store, which is awesome.
      Redbox: text REDBOX to 727-272 and they send you codes once in a while. They used to send freebie codes all the time but the ones I get nowadays are for smaller discounts.
      STAPLES: text STAPLES to 554-444 (also print coupons from their site)
      MICHAELS also sends text coupons but I don't get those. I just print them from their site (it keeps me from going to Michael's too often!)

      Those are the main ones I get. Sorry for the wall of comment!

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    2. Thanks for the info, but I'm confused because this is the only one that is on my comments! Maybe blogger sent it over to my spam folder? LOL
      I never thought about the texting coupons thing so thanks so much for that!
      I don't see myself as an "extreme coupon" kind of girl so this will be more of an experiment of sorts. =)

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    3. Okay so I found your first comment Nathalie, it was in my spam folder which is ridiculous since you always comment on my blog! =) Thanks for that information too! My plan is definitely to clip coupons "just in case" but not stray all that far from the products I normally would buy. But, it's still good advice to reiterate to anyone else as well.
      I came "this close" to downloading the Ibotta app onto my phone but didn't since I am running out of room on my phone.
      ***Alison, if you are reading this, what do you think of the Ibotta app?
      Thanks again for the wealth of info!!!!

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    4. Do you mean that you only see one of my comments? I had to leave two since it was too long. I see both... maybe I just used the wrong expression by saying "the wall of comments". I meant, sorry for the very long comment (that had to be split into two very long comments!).

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    5. Ah, I just saw your other reply. I think it was Blogger's "subtle" way of telling me my comments are too darn long, hahaha. However since you don't moderate comments, it was posted on your blog. It's just the email notification that got sent to your spam. Gmail (or whatever email program you use) thinks Blogger is trying to spam you, LOL.

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    6. Don't be sorry!!! I so appreciate the fact that you take the time to write such "lengthy" comments to help me out!!

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    7. I was going to suggest printing coupons as well. I don't print from swag bucks that I have gotten a few deals through there, I mainly go through my points. Either way both websites will give you a kickback points when you use coupons from their site.

      I use my points and swag bucks to help accumulate gift cards to Starbucks, target, Sometimes even Amazon codes. Might want to start checking that out to swag bucks.com and my points.com

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    8. I love swagbucks actually, especially since I do a LOT of shopping through Amazon. I used to do "my points" a very long time ago and, maybe I should revisit it. I remember not being able to tally up points quickly but I was in a very different mind set back then too. I'll let you know how I do! =)

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  2. I knew Nathalie would come to the rescue. She is very good at checking for coupons. I get my coupons mainly from my Canadian online sources. My coupon organizer is a 4 X 6 photo album...so very compact. I designate the pocket pages into categories with tabs (sounds like what you are doing) They are dairy/ meat, pantry (mostly cereals and packaged goods), canned goods, oils and condiments, paper and household goods, toiletries, Meds and miscellaneous. I keep my coupons for FREE products in the very front page pockets and I review my coupons before each shopping trip to toss the expired ones. I usually put two coupons back to back inside a pocket so that each coupon is on its own separate page. That makes them very easy to find. I really, really need to take your lead and be more diligent about using them.

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    1. Susan, I like the idea of the small photo album. If my little index card holder system ends up not working out, I will definitely think about trying it this way! Thanks for the tip!

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  3. I do mine with two systems in one basket which I started with and it always have used. The front has cut folders that I reused and sort any printed or other found coupons in. The others I sort by insert date from the paper because that is how I can find it when I look in the coupon database. Here is a list of some of the printable sites that I used to use: http://novafrugalfamily.blogspot.com/2013/12/month-end-coupon-printing-and.html

    Here is the post where I show my organization. I did it a long time ago but I think that it is nearly the same: http://novafrugalfamily.blogspot.com/2012/09/learning-to-coupon-in-5-easy-steps.html

    I use Ibotta, Saving Star and Checkout51. If you want to join my Ibotta team, it says that my referral code is otektq. I am not sure if I have to email you a link but let me know if you want to sign up. I have only gotten $23 on Ibotta, $12 on Checkout 51 and over $90 on Saving Star so you can tell which one I use more of. Saving Star is more automatic but I scan in the receipt while I am still standing at the store to make sure that I don't miss the deals on any of the ones that I have to scan.

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    1. Ah, man! I saw the SouthernSavers referral link and thought "what the heck, I'll try it again so I can try to be like Alison" and never even thought to ask YOU for you own code. Duh. I'm sorry. I'm gonna blame old age brain farts for that one.

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    2. Alison, thanks for the links to your posts! I will definitely check them out - probably not until Monday though once I am not a walking zombie! LOL I did use Checkout 51 and SavingsStar briefly - I will have to go back and be more diligent with using them now too I think. =)

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