Focus only on the items on your shopping list. This is one area where people lose sight and get bogged down with thoughts such as: “gee, that sounds good” or “I have not had that in ages, sounds like it would be fun”, etc.
Although I am not really big on cutting coupons, I will do that when I can easily combine store sales and manufacturer coupons, particularly when a store will double coupons. Even then, although I like free items, I only want to spend a minimal amount of time to get those free items. I found two way to do that. As with other tasks, there are multiple steps you need to take initially to learn how and also to get things set up. After that, it becomes automatic.
1. Visit your local supermarket customer service desk to get the answer to several questions:
- What info they can give you about their sales
- How many items you can purchase at one time using manufacturer coupons for each item
- If they double or triple coupons
- If they have any booklets or flyers you can use
2. Compare the store specials to your 2 week grocery list, marking the items on your list that are on sale.
Where coupons really come into play and you can save significant amounts of money is when you use manufacturer coupons simultaneously with rotational sales. For example (I am only using Maxwell House coffee as an example; the concept works for many items), a large container of Maxwell House coffee may normally cost $12.99 or more normally. When the rotational sales come around, that same container will cost $5.99. If you use a Maxwell House coupon for the coffee, you may be able to get the same container for $4.99, which means you got it at 64% of the normal price. That is the time to stock up with that item. You can normally only print 2 coupons from coupon websites; however, if the Sunday newspaper has Maxwell House coupons, and if you use Maxwell House on a regular basis, and if the amount of the coupon is more than the cost of the paper, consider purchasing several newspapers. If you can get the inserts from friends and family, even better.
NOTE: keep in mind that the majority of food coupons are for processed foods that contain preservatives and are usually high in sodium. According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, Public Health Research, Practice, and Policy: manufacturer coupons influence shopper food purchases and less than 1% of printed coupons are for fruits, and 3% are for veggies. 12% are for beverages and primarily for sodas, juices, and sports drinks.
Visit a website that matches store sales with manufacturer coupons such as Grocery Coupon Divas or Coupon Mom. Coupon Mom offers a great tutorial about how to coupon and also how to match local sales with manufacturer coupons. Consider watching her YouTube tutorial.
Compound coupon savings by printing coupons from a rewards program in which you are a member. Not only do you get the cents off, but you also earn points when you redeem the coupons.
Print ONLY the coupons for foods that are in your menu. I prefer to print the coupons from one of the rewards programs that I belong to so that I can earn points when I print the coupons from their website and use those coupons at the supermarket. If you belong to rewards programs, you can compound your savings by doing the same thing. There are many, many, many, many websites that allow you to print coupons and you can conduct a web search for websites that let you print coupons so I will not belabor that point.
3. Consider joining the rewards program of your favorite manufacture so that you get the first notice of new promo they will be offering, coupons, and when they unveil brand new products. Many manufacturers unveil new products by making them available at extremely low prices.
When I know a new product will be unveiled, I will buy one of the item to know if I will like it and if so, I will go back to the store the next day and will purchase several more of the same products.
4. Check out the Sunday Coupon Preview. This is a great resource! Check this resource at the beginning of each year and make a note of what Sunday newspapers will have coupons! Below is the schedule for the rest of 2014. The new 2015 preview has not been released yet; however, consider keeping an eye out for it and then making a note of the schedule in a calendar task reminder. On the weeks that there will be MANY coupons, consider purchasing 2 Sunday papers!
2015 Sunday Coupon Inserts for January and February to get you started:
- 4 – RedPlum (2 inserts), SmartSource (3 inserts), P&G
- 11 – RedPlum, SmartSource
- 18 – SmartSource
- 25 – RedPlum, SmartSource, P&G
- 1 – RedPlum, SmartSource
- 8 – RedPlum, SmartSource
- 15 – RedPlum (President’s day)
- 22 – SmartSource
Check their website for the rest of 2015 coupons.
Some supermarkets double the price of coupons; however, not all supermarkets do that. Therefore, consider finding out which supermarkets in your state / area double by checking a website such as: Double Coupons. You can also check out the Sunday Coupon Preview website (Sunday Coupon Preview) which will tell you when coupons will be inserted into Sunday newspapers. With that info, you can purchase the Sunday newspaper on those weeks. This is the link for the 2015 Sunday insert schedule.
However, just because a supermarket doubles coupons does not always make them the best store to visit because they may increase the original price of a product to recuperate the money they will lose when they double a coupon. This is another area when it pays to know your prices.
CAUTION: When a store offers BOBO deals, unless they also print the initial price of the product that you will need to purchase, I will not go to that store unless there are other products that I plan on getting as well. I learned that lesson when I went to a store, fully intending to buy one to get one, only to find out that the initial price was almost double what it normally is! That was a quick lesson I learned!
Another lesson that I learned was My Coke Rewards offered a program where you entered codes that were printed on the INSIDE of the carton. I went to the store and purchased several Coke 12-packs. When I got home, I opened one only to find that the code was missing! I asked my daughter-in-law about that and she said that you have to read the outside of the carton because somewhere on the outside of the carton was a designation showing the code would be inside that carton. The code was only printed on some cartons and she showed me where to look. I had just assumed that the codes would be on all of the Coke cartons.
5. Upload eCoupons to your supermarket loyalty cards. I sett up a task reminder to upload eCoupons to my loyalty cards that I think I might use the next month. My favorites are: CellFire, Savingstar, Smartsource Direct2Card, and ShopRight Digital. In fact, I have a task reminder set up for the first day of each month to activate all eCoupons that I think I might use over the upcoming month. In the task reminder, I enter the full URL and also my login and password, and I get through all of my favorite eCoupon websites in about 3-4 minutes each month.
6. Make a point of watching the prices as they pop up as the cashier scans them. Many times I have seen errors. This is not intentional. However, if the prices are incorrectly entered into the computer system, the cashier knows no difference. Just recently, I bought chicken breasts that were directly above a Buy one; Get one free” sign. I looked at that very carefully and finally decided to change the chicken that I was going to buy. When both items rang up at the cash register, I questioned it. The cashier had someone go to the meat counter and that rep returned, telling me that the chicken that was BOGO was NOT the one I had chosen. I pointed out that the way the sign was position was a bit shady because it was clearly directly below the chicken breast (which was on the top shelf). I returned the 2nd package of chicken. Had I not been watching the cash register as the prices were ringing up, I would have ended up paying for the 2nd package of chicken, which I ONLY got because I honestly thought it would be free.
TAKE ACTION #1: Create a task list with the website links of websites that match local sales with manufacturer coupons. the various coupon websites and eCoupon websites. See the tutorial by Microsoft for setting tasks in MS Outlook. When you see how easy it is, I believe you will love using tasks.
TAKE ACTION #2: Why not take this opportunity to help our military families? They have given so much to protect our freedom. One way that you can help military families is to provide manufacturer coupons that they can use on base. Check out either of these websites for details of how to help our military families: Coupons to Troops and Overseas Coupon Program.
Set a task reminder for every month to bundle an envelope of coupons (both current and up to 6 months expired). The military offers perks to soldiers such as college credits and some discounts; however, they do not get large paychecks.
TAKE ACTION #3: Set a task reminder to rotate the coupons that are in your car (rather than leaving them at home). The first time you are in a supermarket that has a super duper sale or “Manager Special” and you can compound your savings with a coupon, you will be glad you had your coupons in your car. Forget about going home to get the coupons and returning to the store because you would spend more gasoline and wear & tear on your car.