Clipping coupons: we have all used a coupon or two somewhere along the way, but did you know that clipping coupons and checking ads can save you hundreds? I had used coupons before, but then I started shopping with a couponing “guru,” I could not believe the savings! Couponing, like many things, has different levels. There is your basic “cut a coupon and save 50 cents”, and then there is a whole other level for those who are really serious.
Here is how it works: You buy three to four Sunday News Tribunes, and this is where you find the coupons and the weekly ads. You will find inside the paper usually two (but sometimes more) “inserts.” Smartsource, Red Plum, and PG&E are the titles of them. You clip all the coupons and organize them in any way that makes it easy for you personally to find the ones you want. Next, you read through the ads from stores like Target, Wal-Mart, and Walgreens and compare the prices and offerings of each store on products of interest. Then you match the coupons with the ads. Now here is where it gets even more fun. Some coupons will say at the top that they are Store Coupons, and others will say Manufacturers Coupons, and there is a difference. You can stack them, one store coupon with one manufacturers coupon. This can double your savings.
For example, if Target has a store coupon offering $5 off any $15 purchase of pet products, and you have multiple copies of manufacturer coupons offering $2 a bag of Purina Dog Chow, then you can stack them. It gets even better though. Target will often be running a gift card deal on Purina dog food at the same time. So if you buy three 20-pound bags of Purina Dog Chow, they give you a $5 gift card. So you take three store coupons, three manufacturer coupons, and the Target coupon for $5 of $15 and combine them. That means that three bags of chow that were originally $15 each go from costing you $45 to $29, which is a savings of $16.
Then you cut your coupons for Secret Deodorant, which says buy one deodorant get the body spray free, and Target has a $5 gift card offer when you purchase three of either the deodorant or the body spray. If they are $3.50 each, that means the three deodorants cost you $10.50, and the coupons say your body sprays are free, but target gives you the $5 gift card on both so you get $10 in gift cards. That means all six only cost you 50 cents! So you see if you also do this with your laundry soap, feminine products, and shampoo/conditioner, and they are all on gift card deals that week, your savings will quickly add up. I have actually had shopping trips where I spent $298 total for groceries, toiletries, household items, and pet food for a family of six (and three dogs), but took home $829 in merchandise! Last year it took me almost an entire six months to run low on laundry soap, shampoo, conditioner, and deodorants.
There are many other ways to save. You can find coupons online by typing in “Coupons for Kmart,” for example. Many stores also have apps for your phone where you can get electronic coupons weekly. Grocery stores also will generate coupons called Catalina coupons which are based on your shopping records. Additionally, stores like Walgreens, Riteaid, and Kmart offer point systems in addition to couponing. There is more to learn than what I can fit in this article. Last summer, my coupon mentor, Chantelle Bennett, co-founder of the Facebook page Couponing Pierce County, taught free classes in various Pierce County Libraries. Last August, she said I was ready and I co-taught a class with her. Other sites, such as the Crazy Coupon Lady, can be found by using any search engine. Happy couponing!