In Part 1 of this How to Save Money on Groceries series, Know What You Are Currently Paying for Your Grocery Items, I explained that grocery stores regularly promote their products by offering them at a sale price, usually on an 8-12 week rotation, and when you combine the sale price with a coupon, you can often score a great deal. In Part 2, Building Your Stockpile, I describe what a grocery stockpile is, how to build one, and suggestions for storing your stockpiled items. And I showed you how I go about finding the best deals available to me for the current week inPart 3.
Today I am going to talk about where I find all of my coupons- and tomorrow I will show you my tools and methods for keeping them all organized!
Where to Find Grocery Coupons:
This is certainly my primary method for finding coupons. But unlike some Moms who are really into couponing, I do not buy multiple copies of our local newspaper- I buy only the papers that our family would normally receive because we want to read them anyway- which in our house is the local newspaper for our area as well as the NY Times. But that's not to say that I only get newspaper inserts from just my paper….
- My husband let some of his office-mates know that I was trying to use coupons to cut down on our grocery expenses, and he asked them if they wouldn't mind giving him their inserts from their weekend papers, when they were done with them. He now regularly has three friends who bring in their inserts (sometimes with coupons that they wanted already cut out- which is fine!) and leave them on his desk. They were happy to do it- they were just throwing them away anyway- and I really appreciate it!
- My Mom who lives in another state is also happy to save her inserts for me- and in true great-Mom-fashion, she actually cuts out all of the coupons and mails them to me weekly! Even better- she shared this idea with one of her retired friends, and her friend does the same! One of the interesting things I've noticed is that my Mom's inserts will sometimes have coupons for the same items that are in my inserts- but often at different (better prices). See- even at 44 years old- it is still wonderful to get a weekly “care package” from your Mama!
So I regularly receive coupons from 7 different Sunday papers- which is great!
There are several websites that offer printable coupons, and the offering changes monthly:
Some other places to find printable coupons:
- Become a “fan” on the facebook page of some of your favorite brands such as Nabisco, Kraft, International Delight, etc. They often offer coupons right from facebook.
- Check out the web pages for your favorite brands for coupons as well. Some sites such as P&G have mailing lists where you can sign up and they will mail you high-value coupons several times a year. The deal blogs that I mentioned yesterday are great about alerting you when to go out and check these sites to get in on the mailings.
One thing that I would note about printable coupons- in the beginning I would go out to all of these sites and print off a ton of coupons- but over time I have learned to only print the high-value coupons that I know that I will definitely use. The rest I wait to print when I know of a deal in which I want to use them. That has saved me a great deal of printer ink and paper- not to mention the wasted time of cutting out and filing a bunch of printable coupons that I never used.
In Store coupons
While shopping, be on the lookout for “blinkie” coupons, the ones distributed by the little machines that are hanging onto the store shelf. Also check out the product packaging for “peelies” which are the peel-off coupons on the outside of the package. Yesterday I found a great deal with a “peelie”. Ronzoni Quick-Cook pasta was on sale for 95 cents, and the boxes had “peelies” on them for 50 cents off the box, and since my store doubles coupons up to $1.00- I was able to take home 4 boxes of this pasta for free!
Always check the bottom of your register receipt to see if you qualified for any future deals because you used your loyalty card. This is where they will notify you that you have 10% off of your next order, or a free turkey etc. Also- next to most registers is a separate receipt machine (called a catalina machine- see my note below) that also prints off in-store coupons that can be used for a future shopping trip.
Before throwing away (recycling) any product packaging- look it over to see if there are any coupons printed on the inside of the box. I find them all of the time for aluminum foil, kids yogurt, and granola bars.
Many of the deal blogs I told you about yesterday will keep you up to date on any free samples that are available. Many times not only do you get a free sample to try, but the manufacturer also sends along some great high value coupons. Last month I ordered a sample of the Bounce dryer bar (which I love, by the way), and with it came a coupon for $2.50 off a future purchase. Nice!
There is a great magazine that is targeted to couponers called All You. I receive the magazine, and I have signed up to get daily alerts from their web site for coupons and free samples (they have a free sample of the day program). I have also found that many of the current Women's magazines such as Real Simple, Good Housekeeping, and Better Homes and Gardens also are offering coupons.
What the heck is a “Catalina”?
As I mentioned above, next to most registers in the grocery stores are little printers called Catalina machines. These machines will print in-store and / or manufacturer's coupons that are targeted to you based on what you purchased during this shopping trip. Sometimes these machines will also print recipes, or will let you know about a future sale or deal that this store will be offering. But the best thing that this machine prints (in my opinion) is the $-off coupons that go along with a “deal” that you have purchased. Here's an example: last week ShopRite had a “deal” in their sale circular for certain Proctor & gamble products- that if you purchased $40 worth of these products (shelf price, before coupons are applied) , you would get a $5 coupon for a future order, and a $10 mail-in coupon where P&G would mail you back a $10 prepaid Visa card. So here is the deal that I did:
2 Tide detergents $11.99 each (less $2.00 coupon for each)
5 Bounce Bars at $3.99 each (less one $2.50 coupon, and four $1.50 coupons)
I qualified for the $40 catalina (I spent $43.93), and I also took off $12.50 in coupons)- and I received $15 back to use on future shopping trips (a $5 catalina, and a $10 prepaid Visa card which is on its way to me).
Catalinas are another great way to save money on groceries. But the key is to make sure that you have purchased the exact products called for in the “deal”, and that you met the minimum price threshold (in this case $40). However, I will tell you that there have been many, many times when I have executed a deal correctly, and the darn little machine did not print my catalina! It can be very frustrating, because your only in-store option is to go to the customer service desk and have them manually print the catalina- but this usually involves waiting in line and explaining the deal, finding it in the store circular, and then finding the items on your register receipt, and then finding an open register to print the catalinas. By this time I am usually worn out! …. so I have found that the best way to fix the problem is to contact the catalina company directly:
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