Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Couponing 101 - More Tips For The Beginner

Did you know that only 1% of coupons are redeemed each year? That is, only 1% of printed circular coupons (i.e. Sunday coupon circulars) are actually redeemed. This makes me wish I could get the other 99% of the coupons delivered to my house!! A new study just came out and showed that coupon redemption in the United States in the 4th quarter of 2008 increased 10% (over the same period the year prior). That is exciting news because as more coupons are redeemed, manufacturers will actually produce more we can all save more money.

Here are more basic couponing tips for the beginner. These tips focus on retail stores and how to be a savvy shopper! I hope this helps you all save lots of money!

1) Keep in mind that in order to stretch your dollar the most, you should be shopping in several stores....not just one. You will effectively save more money by shopping in competing stores. For example, I buy most of my groceries at Walmart, Winn Dixie and Publix. I can always compare prices of one against another and I know when it's a good deal. Many weeks, I will shop at all 3 stores so I can get the best deals.
2) Every week, you need to review the ads for your favorite stores (i.e. grocery stores, mass merchants and drug stores). The best way to get all of the ads in one place is the Sunday newspaper. Pull out all of the ads for stores you shop in and comb them to see what's on sale. I usually keep my grocery list handy as I review the ads and make notes where I should be shopping. You can really save money when you have coupons to use in addition to the item being on sale.
3) Combine store coupons and manufacturer coupons to get the best value!!! This really is the best kept secret in couponing and this is how you can get items for FREE!! Most stores do have their own coupons and often times you can find them in the store (check the customer service desk, the front lobby as you walk in, etc). You can also check the store website for printable store coupons. You can also join their frequent shopper programs and you may receive store coupons via mail. Lastly, if you shop there often, you may receive coupons on your register receipt (known as Catalinas - named after the company that developed this coupon). Here is a scenerio from my weekly trip to Target.... I use an awesome website called A Full Cup and they have Target IP's (internet printables). I check this website weekly. This week, they had $1.00 off Mott's Applesauce (4 or 6 pack) and I also had $.55 off manufacturer coupons. The price was $1.72 - I saved $1.00 then saved $.55 = I got this item for $.17 (for a 6 pack of applesauce)!! If you are a Target shopper, you should bookmark this site and check it often. Target is also very good to send coupons in the mail if you're on their mailing list. Many grocery stores have recently changed their policy about combining store and manufacturer coupons so you should always ask.
4) Know when store markdowns are done - which days of the week and for which departments. In addition, know where they merchandise the markdowns. I know that my Wal-Mart marks down food items on Wednesday and merchandises all products on end caps (usually the cereal isle). Usually, the products marked down are about to expire or have been discontinued or being repackaged. Target usually does food markdowns on Wednesday and clothing on Thursday. In Target, always shop the perimeter of the store - shop the endcaps on the inside to find the markdowns.

I love to hear your success stories. Please feel free to post comments with your successful shopping trips!!!

More couponing tips to come so stay tuned....

Written by Elizabeth

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