Recently I started a series on my non-extreme approach to couponing. In that post I promised to cover important things to consider when considering taking up the practice of shopping with coupons. Last week I highlighted important things to consider when choosing stores to coupon at. This week I am addressing important tools in couponing.
It’s hard to shop with coupons if you don’t have any! Here are a few places to find coupons to start your stash.
- Sunday newspaper The obvious starting is by purchasing the Sunday newspaper. Most weeks you can find at least two coupon circulars in the paper. There are two major coupon “brands” to watch for: Smart Saver & Red Plum. Some weeks will have both of these and some weeks they will have two versions of one. Once a month Procter & Gamble releases coupons for all their bands so be sure to buy the paper that week to get coupons for major brands like Tide, Swiffer, etc. I don’t subscribe to the paper because it actually costs more than buying it in the store. So I always check the paper I pick up to make sure it has coupons. Some weeks there aren’t any and I pass on the purchase that week.
- Internet In addition to the Sunday paper you can find a lot of manufacturers coupons online through sites like Coupons.com. Many of these are duplicates or are slightly better than coupons you can find in the newspaper. However, they only offer a limited number of each coupon to be printed, so some of them reach their print limits quickly. You also can usually only print one of each although some of the sites have higher personal print limits.
- Manufacturer’s Websites & Facebook Pages A lot of companies will offer coupons to people who sign up on their websites or like them on Facebook. This is a great way to get coupons for companies that do not often have printed ones.
- All You Magazine All You is a magazine that is the working class version of Real Simple. They feature stories about saving money, fashion, recipes, etc. All You also usually has over $50 worth of coupons in each issue.
Rebates & Apps
In addition to printed coupons you can sometimes find additional rebate and savings by using smart phone apps to get rebates, points or additional discounts. Here are a few of my favorites.
- Shopkick Shopkick is a smartphone app, that doesn’t necessarily offer coupons. But at some stores you can get “kicks” or points for walking in, scanning items and purchases made with your debit card. Kicks can be cashed in for many different perks- my favorite is Starbucks gift cards.
- Ibotta (Use My Referral Code: g5nzha) Ibotta is an app that allows you to earn cash rebates for qualifying purchases at stores. Once you reach a certain amount you cash out your rebates to your PayPal account. They also offer rebates for movie tickets and other purchases. In order to get the rebate you have to scan the qualifying item and scan the receipt.
- Checkout51 Is similar to Ibotta in that you earn cash rebates for specific purchases. With Checkout51 you just scan the receipt with the qualifying purchases and get the cash in your account. Checkout51 will send you a check once you reach $20.
You can redeem rebates on both Ibotta & Checkout51 for the same item and can still use store or manufacturers coupons at the purchase.
Once you begin collecting coupons it’s important to organize them to make the process of shopping simpler. There are two major approaches to this and I’ve tried both.
- File By Date: Some people do not cut any coupons at all but file each week’s circulars by the date they were published. I tried this for a while and it was good because it was low key way to keep them organized. I purchased a large 13 pocket file folder like this one. Each week when I would purchase the paper I wrote the date on the outside of each circular and dropped them in the file. When it came time to make my shopping list I just clipped the coupons I needed. I quit using this method because I preferred to be able to find coupons on specific products without having to look up what week it may have been printed in.
- Clip & File By Category: This is the way that I currently organize my coupons. I have a small file folder like this one that is small enough to fit in my purse but large enough to hold coupons printed from the internet. Each Sunday I clip the coupons out of the newspaper that are for items that I would actually purchase and file them away into predetermined categories. I’ve changed the categories I organize them in a couple of times based on my own shopping patterns. I like this strategy better because I can keep my coupon organizer in my purse and take it with me to the store outside of my big shopping trip. This has helped me to catch some surprise deals of items on clearance.
I’m sure that there are other ways to organize coupons but these are the two versions I have tried. I prefer the clipping process because even though it takes a little more time on the front end, I think it makes couponing more productive. The important thing with organizing is to find ways that work for your unique process and shopping patterns.
Next week I’ll post on how to prepare for your shopping trip. In that post I’ll share about some sites to help find the deals to make the most out of all your coupon tools.
This post contains affiliate links.