Monday, November 2, 2009

Couponing 101

Sorry this taken me awhile to get to. I'll get right to it for those of you ready to coupon! (Some of you may or may not be surprised to find out how crazy I am.)

Step 1: Order the newspaper.

Several Sunday copies- 4 to be exact, or more if you can get them. (The Daily Herald in Utah County for example.) They say the rule of thumb is to have as many papers as you have people in your family. The reason? For the coupon inserts, of course! And, so you won't have to pay full price for items you regularly use. You can stock up on items when they are at rock bottom prices.

I ordered my paper through a salesman I met at Smith's. I had 2 Tribunes and 2 Deseret Morning News coming on Sundays. Each paper each month was $5.85, or $23.40 a month. Since doing this however, I have found better deals through bloggers, so I cancelled my papers and I'm going to order through them! Check here or here to get your papers ordered for the best possible price!

Step 2: Check into Grocery

This is their link: and this is the Utah password: g84chs

The password can be shared with everyone, so feel free to pass it along! Once you've logged in once, save the page as a 'Favorite' then you won't have to type in the password each time.

This site allows you to look at the current shopping lists in most stores in Utah. You can double your savings with sale items that currently have coupons available for them. It's sweet!

Step 3: Read some coupon blogs.

You may have noticed that I had a bunch on my blog list. I recently moved them to 'Favorites' websites instead, because I felt the need to read everything they were posting! You don't have to read everything or feel like you have to get every deal.

These are some you may want to follow:

These are both blogs in other states, but they follow Walgreen's, Rite Aid, and Target really well. Plus they let you know about many other freebies!

pinchingyourpennies - I believe this is a Utah blog, they let you know of MANY online deals!

PLUS- These are some purely Utah blogs that I recently found and I love!

Save these on your blog list or your favorites so you can check them often!

Step 4: Clip and organize.

You may think this is over the top, but this is how I organize my coupons:
This is a photo album. (I bought this with a 40% off coupon at JoAnn's, so it was $6.) It has plenty of pockets, as you can see below and the pockets are big enough to keep the coupons you print at home. This way I can easily see my coupons and I don't have to ruffle through a big stack when I get to the store. I also use it to plan my shopping trips by labeling the pockets at the front with the name of the store and pulling the coupons I'm going to use at that store, so they are ready to go!I've roughly organized the coupons into categories, so all cereals are in a section, yogurts, shampoos and soaps, and so on. I sometimes wonder if alphabetical would be better?? It's all about saving money AND time! I do carry it with me anytime I go to the store, I usually stumble into a deal or two and I'm so glad I have my coupons with me! (P.S. Yes, I know, I probably look dorky carrying a photo album with me everywhere I go... I've been a mom for 12 years now, so I'm so over it!)

Step 5: Shop!

Start slow until you feel comfortable using coupons. When I first started, I would get nervous walking up to check out! I was wondering if they would really work like they're supposed to, or if I was going to get in trouble for saving so much money! Then I remembered a fact from the old days when I worked as a checker at Macey's: the manufacturer pays the bill for you! They want you to try their product, so they pay the store and you don't have to. Phew! I didn't worry about getting in trouble again.
That being said, the only time I couldn't get a store to accept a coupon was at Macey's. They are very wary of printed coupons at the store here. They will not accept 2 coupons with the same bar code in the same transaction, even though you may print each coupon twice from home. Just something to keep in mind.

Is it all worth it? I would say that it definitely is, YES! I will say that my life is pretty low-key right now, all my kids are in school and I have no toddlers or baby in the house. So, it was easier for me to get started. But, I will always do this no matter how crazy my life gets because it is so worth it! Here are a few scenarios of deals I've been able to get the past few months:

1. This was a $40 trip to Walgreen's. (Please note the Opti-Free, contact lense wearers know this is pricey! I have to buy double now that Alli is wearing contacts!) And, there are 2 boxes of the legos missing from this picture. I think Santa had something to do with it! ;) Altogether, 21 items= about $1.95 per item on average.

2. This was a $13 shopping spree combined at Albertson's and Target. I counted 25 items here= $.52 each on average.

3. I spent $19.50 for 20 boxes of cereal at Target (in 4 separate trips) and got $20 of gift cards back! I actually made 50 cents and got 20 free boxes of cereal! Plus, 15 of the boxes had box tops, so my kids' school made $1.50!

4. I spent $8.25 for 10 boxes of Kellogg's cereals at Albertson's, then sent in my receipt to Kellogg's to get a $10 check back! Another money maker.

We moved to South Ogden 4 months ago.... our short term food storage basically totally depleted! I started shopping to build it up ever since and our 3 month supply is back! And not just food, we have 3 months supply of razors, shampoos, conditioners, toothpaste, toothbrushes, feminine products, laundry detergent, etc. I don't think I "saved" a lot of money (aka: putting more cash in the bank), I spent the same amount from our regular budget, we just were able to get a lot more for the amount we spent!

If you 'endured to the end' of this post (hee hee), here's a bonus for you! To help get you started on couponing, here are some links to some FREE things! (They all involve coupons you can print at home!)
1. FREE bakery items at SuperTarget: here
(You can use several coupons in one transaction, all my kids chose a bakery item for a treat last week. The 99 cent items are free, they don't have to be a full $1 to use the coupon.)

2. FREE Connect 4 mini game at Target: here
(Just pay 35 cents each for tax, you can print the coupon twice! These are the mini games found near the luggage area, they are NOT in the games)

3. 2 FREE cans Campbell's Tomato soup + 3 FREE Hunt's tomato sauce at Walgreen's: here
Have FUN!! :) Let me know if you have questions or suggestions!


Marianne said...

Thank you Heather! I needed some help on this coupon stuff.

Shelley said...

I love the coupon thing. I have to limit myself as far as what I do, but it still saves SO much money! I love it! :)

Alli said...

Crazy couponing... this is getting out of control!! :)

Angela said...

Jeff told me about your couponing post! I LOVE couponing now! My son asked me today if I ever bought anything that wasn't on sale. :) I LOVE your ideas and will definitely check out all of those websites. I have one that you might or might not have: She's great too! I've got onto the Old Navy Thursdays and scored a few coupons there for clothing. Fun! Take care and thanks again!

Jen Nelson said...

I LOVE couponing! I just started over a month ago but so far have saved hundreds!

I trick I learned is to file your coupon packets by type and date and only cut them out when you are going to use them! I have a file box with 4 folders and after I make my list on I cut out the coupons for just that trip! Another blog I like is

Cassie said...

Hi Heather, I ran across your blog here and saw your post regarding your couponing. Awesome. I am the hiring manager for Grocery Smarts in Utah and we are looking for more teachers. I would love to talk to you about this opportunity - we are all stay at home moms and work from home. Please email me at Thanks!