Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Couponing 101

by Reilly Chapman
           I am sure you have been stuck behind an older woman at a grocery store that is holding up the line because she has 500 coupons, right? Or I am certain you have heard of Extreme Couponers, a TLC original TV Series, which shows people getting $900.00 worth of groceries and only paying $38.50 because of all the coupons they had.
As a college student (and possible parent) it is always good to save a buck. If you have ever been curious about how coupons really work and how people get a full cart of groceries for less than one single twenty dollar bill, then you have come to the right place.
I, myself, am not yet an “extreme couponer” but I have done weeks of research trying to figure out the couponing formula.
Growing up with a mother that rarely buys anything without a coupon, has taught me a thing or two about the couponing world, but nothing compares to the information you learn from couponing blogs and websites. The best one I found with advice for first-time couponers was the Krazy Coupon Lady‑ http://www.thekrazycouponlady.com/beginners
The different blogs will teach you about couponing lingo and what to expect with couponing. They break down exactly what you need to know and even tell you individual store coupon rules.
         After you get the advice you need, next you need to gather up (a lot of) coupons! It is recommended that you get your hands on at least five to six Sunday ads to start with. Also, online coupons are really easy to obtain. My favorite website for printable coupons is SouthernSavers‑ http://www.southernsavers.com/.   It is mentioned that you should have around ten copies of each printable coupon (keep in mind it is illegal to photocopy internet coupons).
Once you have your coupons cut and organized, you must then figure out the best time to use the coupons to get the best deal. Each store has a “rock bottom low price” in most areas; they follow a cycle roughly 6 weeks long. To add even more to your savings, catch the item you need at the low price plus add on coupons you find in your weekly newspaper and online.

The three really big keys to couponing are:

1)    Organization--- You have to keep track of all your coupons and the expiration date. You could miss out on getting ten items for free if you misplace a coupon and find it after it expires

2)    Do your shopping based around your coupons, don’t base your coupons around your shopping. Plan meals according to what is on sale.

3)    Stock up-- If it is a deal you can’t pass up, get multiples. If it’s a really great deal (a free item or one 90% off) get enough to last you 6 months or more.
To make it easier on yourself when you just begin, pick ONE store and buy the lowest-priced items there. That way, you're not trying to keep track of all the stores' sales and you know you're getting great deals and saving money.


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