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Friday, February 4, 2011

Becoming the Next Coupon King or Queen

Note: This article was written by me for HubPages. Here is a link to the post.

Couponing is all the rage in the current economy. Some of you may be casual coupon users, using a few here and there to save a couple of cents, but you don't really even feel like it is worth the effort of clipping, organizing, and remembering to take them to the store. This is not the most efficient method of usage, I'm sorry to tell you. You only been using a minute portion of the money-saving power of coupons. With proper practice and know-how, you can consistently save 50% or more EVERY time you are in the grocery store. Does that sound like it is worth the time and effort?

First Step: Locating Coupons

First thing's first; where do you find all of these coupons? The most powerful and useful source of coupons is the Sunday newspaper. There are anywhere from 2-5 inserts included in each editions, so try to get your hands on as many copies of the coupon inserts as you can.There are four types of inserts
  • Red Plum (abbreviated as RP)
  • SmartSource (abbreviated as SS)
  • General Mills (abbreviated as GM)
  • Proctor & Gamble (abbreviated as P&G)
There are also numerous venues for printable coupons online. These coupons are usually higher value than the coupons found in the newspaper, but are somewhat time consuming to locate and certainly use up more of your personal ink resources than do the pre-printed newspaper inserts.

Second Step: Organizing

So now you have all of these coupons. What are you going to do with them?
Your coupon collection will start to get out of hand and unmanageable if you do not institute some kind of organization system. There are two predominant schools of thought on how to organize your collection:
Whole-Insert Binder
This option is best if you are going to be collecting multiples of each insert. You will want to get:
  1. A 2" or larger three-ring binder
  2. A set of dividers
  3. Plastic document sleeves.
Label the dividers as follows:
  • SmartSource
  • Red Plum
  • General Mills
  • P&G
  • Printed
Then, each week as you collect coupon insert, write the date in big BOLD letters across the tops and put all of the identical inserts into one plastic sleeve. Sort these sleeves by insert. When you are ready to look for a specific coupon, you will know exactly where to start.
Clipped Coupons Binder
You will need:
  1. A 2" or larger three-ring binder
  2. A couple of sets of dividers
  3. Plastic baseball card protector sheets
  4. Plastic organization tabs (like Post-It), if you did not buy tabbed dividers
Each divider will represent a section of the grocery store. Label them according to the sections that you normally visit, and clip out your coupons, placing them into the slots of the baseball dividers. Place identical coupon in the same section to better keep track of your quanitity.

Third Step: Planning

This is the most crucial factor that divides the coupon peasantry from the royalty. The Coupon Queens contribute forethought into each one of their shopping trips, knowing exactly what they will buy and for how much before they even enter the store. How in the world do they manage to do that?
Most grocery stores release circulars that will highlight their sales for the week. These are the couponer's most treasured asset. They determine who is the wheat and who is the chaff. An expert couponer knows that coupons can combine with sale items to produce an even greater savings for the customer. And if your store offers store coupons in addition to their sales, these can be combined with your manufacturer coupons and that is where the real savings begin. Yes, you CAN use two coupons for one item, contrary to popular belief, as long as one is a store coupon and the other is from the manufacturer.
"But I don't have time to look through all of those ads and stuff. I just want to save money NOW!" Patience is a virtue, my child, but lucky for you, there are many bloggers out there who have already done the work for you. The following are a few of my favorites:

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