UPDATE: Complete Couponing for the newbie (Part III & IV added in posts 37/38) - Page 2 - Mothering Forums

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#31 of 45 Old 03-10-2009, 01:41 PM
 
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iheartcvs.com has previews of many weeks in advance I think and a list of all the deals, You could check there. The sales run from Sunday to Sunday.... Hope that helps..

Buy or sell safe scents for your home!! Check out Scentsy!! Start your own business for only $99.
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#32 of 45 Old 03-20-2009, 02:05 PM
 
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How often do the printable coupon websites update? Is there a standard day of the week that works well to check all the coupon websites?

Also, I don't really understand how to use A Full Cup. I'm just not making my way around that site very gracefully, I guess.

Aven
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#33 of 45 Old 03-30-2009, 06:03 PM
 
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bumping

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#34 of 45 Old 03-30-2009, 09:31 PM - Thread Starter
 
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How often do the printable coupon websites update? Is there a standard day of the week that works well to check all the coupon websites?

Also, I don't really understand how to use A Full Cup. I'm just not making my way around that site very gracefully, I guess.

Aven
Are you asking about internet coupons (ones that you get a link for & print out) or sites like Coupon Clippers where you buy coupons from them? If they are internet ones, you have to look on the site for when new coupons come out. For coupon clippers, where they use 'regular' coupons, I'd check every week.

Yea, the AFC site is a bit confusing at first, but you'll soon get the hang of it!

There's a couple places on AFC where you can match coupons to sales. One is the forums, which, I agree, is tedious, but sometimes yields some good stuff! The other is going to the Grocery shopping lists. Here's the link I use just select the Shopping list link for your store to see the link between sales & coupons

Another way to do it is to go to the Coupon Menu that's on the same bar as the User CP. Scroll down until you get to Coupon Clippers. Click on it. This will send you to another site. On the top of that page there are 4 icons : Coupons, Trackers, Affiliates, Store Sales. Click on Store Sales, enter your zip code, and then select which stores you want to see. It will show you the current sales, let you search for a coupon for it, and they rate the sales. More stars equals a better sale. One star is 'near normal price',etc. They use their own version of a price book to determine this too, which is nice, especially if you are just starting out and don't know what the price point for a really good sale is.

Ami

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#35 of 45 Old 03-30-2009, 09:39 PM - Thread Starter
 
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OK... I've always been too intimidated to do the whole CVS thing, but this thread has inspired me. I don't foresee myself buying dozens of papers to search for coupons (I couldn't bear wasting all those Sunday papers), but I can see ordering specific coupons from a service.

Let me know if I have the right plan of attack:

1) Sign up for CVS ECB card (done)

2) Go to afullcup.com and look at this week's CVS shopping list for ECB deals (done)

3) Find manufacturer's coupons for the items there are deals on from a service (I signed up for thecouponclippers.com)

Now, I'm having a little trouble thinking about the timing of steps 2 and 3. Is there a specific day the deals turn over? Like, if the new deals come out Saturday, I could look at afullcup.com on Saturday, order some mfg coupons from thecouponclippers.com the same day, and get the coupons in time to get the good deals (they'd probably arrive by Wed/Thurs). Is that the right approach?

I just don't want spend time tracking down deals and then not make it to the store before the deals expire. Any suggestions on how to manage this?
I don't have a CVS here yet (they just bought our Longs, I think), but soon I will & I can't wait!!!! I hope someone familiar with CVS can help you out with those specific questions.

So, while I can't answer your specific CVS questions, I can help you with the timing questions. Do you get the weekly flier from CVS? If so, on the bottom there will be the 'active' dates. It usually runs a full week. Here, stores run their weekly sales from Wednesday to Tuesday the next week. Once you know this, you know when each weekly special will last. For me, I know that every Wednesday, the old deals expire & the new ones are in effect. I have heard that there are women on AFC and Hot coupon world who have access to the next CVS ad early & post the deals. If you can get a heads up, order your coupons as soon as you find out when the deal is.

If you can't get the info early, ask your CVS if they do rainchecks. Some will, some won't. If some will, then as soon as you have the ad, order your coupons. I've heard that the really good deals will be gone in like 1 or 2 days. This is where the raincheck comes in. Just get a raincheck on the items and when they restock, use your coupons & the raincheck to get them.

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#36 of 45 Old 03-30-2009, 09:42 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Part III is ready, and so is Part IV. I'm working on fixing up the links and will hopefully get them up by midweek!

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#37 of 45 Old 03-31-2009, 07:29 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Part III: How to match up Circular deals & Coupons yourself

This part is pretty basic, but it will show you how to shop in season (by putting a price limit on how much you will pay for something) and how to compare best buys across different store circulars and look for coupons in your binder to match to those sales.

In my area, I have three grocery stores that I frequent: Lucky, Savemart, and Safeway. Each week the stores send me their circulars. These circulars contain the weekly specials. If you don't get them in the mail, not to worry they are online. Just Google the name of your store and you will be taken to the 'mother' site. For example the mother site for Safeway is This site has an area on it devoted to Weekly Specials (usually up at the top, next to the Store locater button). Click on it and it will ask for your zip code to give you the specials for your area. This is really nice, especially if your husband brought in the mail and threw away all of the 'junk', or your mailman forgot to put them in your box.

It's really important to note the start date and end date of the circular. Here mine start on Wednesday and run through Tuesday. Why is this important? Two reasons:availability and markdowns!

Availability is important because by the end of the week most of the specials will be sold out. Sometimes grocery stores will be kind enough to write you a rain check, but most of the time nowadays (at least where I live) I'm plain out of luck. They won't run out of produce, but the rest of the goods (rice, cereals, paper towels, etc) will get pretty meager as their week ends.

Knowing the weekly schedule of your stores helps you figure out when inventory comes into the store. All of the stores want to have a good supply of sale items on hand to keep customers coming in. They won't have much, but enough of certain items. In order to resupply important items, most stores will receive their inventory shipment the day or two before the start of a new week. Now, this is a good guesstimate but if you want to be really sure, ask the clerks when they get new shipments. You also want to ask the meat counter when they start marking down meats to make room for a new shipment. They will tell you the time the restocking takes place too. This is really helpful, especially if you have a lot of coupons for a specific product and want to make sure to get all you need.

What does knowing when the store marks down its inventory have to do with couponing? Well, remember way back in the beginning of Part I where I talked about there being little to no coupons for meats/dairy/produce? Markdowns are the store version of couponing. By grabbing up meat that's marked down, you will save a lot of money. Now, many of you may be wondering “but that meat is going bad soon! What use will it be to me?” Simple. Just freeze it. Or cook it & freeze it. Meat close to its expiration date can be safely frozen for as long as normal-far-from-expiry meat. It's a nice way to stretch the budget.

One little missing piece is the Monthly circular. It contains the specials that the store will have all month long. This circular is not advertised well. In fact, to get it you have to be in the store and looking in the right place! The Monthly Specials circular will be located near the entrance, near the little basket that holds all of the Weekly Special Circulars. I always wondered why they had the same circulars right by the door that they sent out in the mail; now I know. I think it might be a distraction technique to keep you from seeing the Monthly Specials Circular! This little book is chock full of hidden savings. The best part is that not many people know about these specials, so they are less likely to be sold out. Also, you have a whole month to get these specials, which is really helpful if you can purchase more coupons for a specific product you really like. No time crunches here!

The key to using local circulars is using price points. Price points figure very large in finding out if something is a good deal or not. Each area of the country is different, but there is a distinct price pattern for food in each of those places. Price point is the price at which something is a 'normal' price, a good price or a stellar price. What might be a stellar price for me might be an ok price for someone else. For myself, my price point is 99 cents and below for chicken, a $1.30 or less for pork and beef. Good prices for fish and seafood would be $2 a pound. I am not willing to buy anything above those prices because I know that these are the regular good sale prices. The prices are also seasonal. I find the best prices on meat to be in the fall. Produce that is 'cheap' is usually in season, since the increase in supply drives down the price. In California, citrus prices are near bottom right now. I can get Navel Oranges for 35 cents per pound right now. Things like a container of blueberries and an eggplant are more like $2 or $3 each. Near the end of summer the prices for both are much lower. Watching price points helps keep you eating seasonally. Locally is another story though. Bananas right now are super cheap, but it's because they are in full swing in the southern hemisphere, not because they are growing anywhere here in the States.

Now a lot of you live in different areas with different lowest sale prices. You might not know what they are right now and that is all right. After a few weeks of looking through circulars you will have a much better feel for what is a good deal and what is just a 'normal' sale price. Some people write up price books where they write down the best price they can find for a particular good each week. Over time a pattern will emerge. I just keep a mental track of prices, so when I see, for example, chicken priced at 89 cents a pound, I know to stock up! For now, you can 'make up' your own personal price points. How much are you willing to spend per pound on chicken, beans, rice, and other goods. How much are you willing to spend per gallon of milk. These are somewhat arbitrary figures, but unless you have just moved somewhere chances are you already have some idea of the 'normal' price for meat, milk, and other groceries. Use those prices (or even lower ones!) and go from there.

So, now that you have your Store circulars, make a nice cup of coffee & spread them out in front of you. I get three, so this iswhat they look like.

The Monthly Specials Circular looks like this.

For the MONTHLY SPECIAL INSERTS:

Go through and pick out the deals that look good to you. Look online for coupons for those products. Sometimes Ebay has coupons you can buy to use on the specials. The way to go about these specials is to look for any and all coupons for these products and, once you've collected as many as you want, go out & get them. You have an entire month to get them. You can choose to get a few each week or do a special, larger purchase at the end of the month. Remember these sales are not well advertised, the sale is long term which means that there is a lot of restocking, so they are unlikely to be sold out. This is also a good peak into seasonal specials. Ketchup and mustard invariable ends up in the summer monthly circulars, whereas baking supplies end up in the winter monthly circulars. This is a great way to get a handle on the sales cycles throughout the year.

For the WEEKLY SPECIALS INSERTS:

Get out a sheet of paper and divided it into the number of store circulars you are looking at. I have three columns on mine.

Pick one circular. I picked to go through the Safeway circular first. Most circular layouts are similar. The front page and the back page are like the the outside aisles of the supermarket. Most of your good deals on produce, meats and dairy will be here. Concentrate on these. In the column titled Safeway, I wrote down the best deals for meat & produce I could find on the outside pages. Then I went through the middle pages. After writing down the specials I want, I look through my coupon binder and pull out any coupons that fit.

I write down each 'special' that falls into my price points, the size/weight, the price and, if there are any coupons for that particular item, I write down what type of coupon I have. In my case, I use abbreviations: SC means Store Coupon, C means Coupon (manufacturer's coupon). Here's a visual of the chart.




A few examples:
SAFEWAY

Safeway Chicken Quarters 99c/lb
Navel Oranges (10lbs) 3.49
Dawn Dish Soap (90 oz) 6.99
Jello Pudding (6 pack) 2 for $5 SC-Y C-Y (Y just means yes, I use checks as well)


I do this with each circular. If both stores are having a sale on oranges for 99cents a pound, I write it in both columns. I also write down any limits that a store might place on an item right next to the item.

This seems like a lot of work, but it takes me, at most 30 minutes once a week. Usually closer to 15 minutes, but my little one likes to figure out ways to distract me. I've mentioned that I'm really particular about organizing my coupons and my list sounds like, well, an extension of that peculiarity. It's not, I promise. The reason for listing each item along with its size and price is so that you can do cross comparisons between the stores. This way you can get the best prices with the least amount of work. It's also very useful in finding out which store has the most deals and therefore is the one that you need get to first. For example, both Savemart and Safeway have a special on Pepsi. Savemart has a limit of 4 on that special, whereas Safeway has no limit. It makes sense for me to stock up on soda at Safeway to tide me over until the next sale. My husband loves soda, and I find that buying little treats for him makes him feel special and much more inclined to sticking to the budget in other areas. And I can swing a dollar for soda, especially if I can also use a coupon on it! Some coupons have size limits, so even though it looks like the larger size container of Dawn Dish Soap looks like a better deal at first, the coupons I have are for the smaller sizes. The coupons make the smaller size a much better deal. So while it may have been smart to get the bigger size, it was even smarter to get the smaller size with a coupon!

And that is all there is to matching up coupons to your local sales. Currently I focus on the three supermarkets but I hope to expand into looking at the Rite Aid, Walgreens and other store circulars. Right now my little one is very demanding, so I don't have the time or patience to sift through more than a few inserts. As he grows a little more independent I am sure I will start looking at the other circulars and getting more deals. That is what is so wonderful about couponing; it is a sliding scale
that can fit from being the most complex and time consuming to being very simple and taking little time. And both extremes will save you tons of money!

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#38 of 45 Old 04-01-2009, 04:17 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Part IV: Extras Tips

So now you have a bunch of coupons, nicely organized and a way to use them to buy items you like and use. You are probably saving a lot of money, more than you were before you started couponing. This part is less about couponing and more about what other sites and information helped me stretch my groceries.

Even with coupons, I found that the majority of my grocery budget went towards produce and meats, things that there are few, if no coupons for. There are two ways I have used that have saved me money on these items. For produce, shop ethnic stores. Many cities have stores that cater to the largest ethnic population in the area. Where I live there are a lot of Koreans, Chinese, and Indians. Within 3 miles I can access stores that cater specifically to all three ethnicities. The vegetables and fruits there are much cheaper than at the regular grocery stores, and even better quality. The spices also come in larger quantities, and even the 'exotic' spices, like turmeric, are really inexpensive. Rice and lentils can be bought in bulk (and at low prices) in the Indian stores. Also, since ethnic stores have a higher turnover rate on items that are central to their diets, the veggies, grains and spices are much fresher than at the local grocery store.

For produce, farmers markets and CSA's (community sponsored agriculture) are another inexpensive resource. Since all of the produce is seasonal, you will get better quality and prices. Once you get into it, you can even try your hand at canning ( for a good overview) or drying ( for a good overview ) to store more produce for the lean winter months. Don't forget about freezing the extras you can't eat up in time either. Here is a great site I use for this.

Also, keep your eyes open for other stores that cater to specific food items. Near my mother's home, there is a small store called 'Real Produce'. It's modeled after a produce stand in Europe. The prices are rock bottom, even for the organics, many items are local and they have a high turnover rate. The best part? Overripe produce or ones nearing overripe are marked down daily. I could get pounds of very ripe bananas for making banana bread, muffins, pancakes, you name it, for 20cents per pound, sometimes less. All I did was peel them, pop them in a ziploc, mash them a bit to make the bag flatter and pop them into the freezer. The same with apples, citrus, tomatoes and more. The best part? My weekly budget for produce went from $30 a week to $10 a week for double the amount of produce. It's a healthier diet, and cheaper too!

A good way to save money is to meal plan. Some people meal plan for 2 weeks at a time, but I like to look through the circulars first and meal plan around those. Once you have a nice stock of items, you won't be as tied to the weekly sales for meal planning. A nice, free site to learn how to meal plan is Meals Matter .
It takes a bit of time at first, but once you enter in all of your recipes, you are good to go!

If you see a really good special on different items but have no idea how to combine them into a meal, plug in the ingredients in Recipezaaror Allrecipes. Usually a lot of different recipes, with accompanying ratings will pop up. I've found several delicious meals this way, some of which have become 'my' specials that everyone asks for. It's also a great way to use up some of the old items in your cupboards that get ignored week after week.

For a list of seasonal foods for your location, type in your state and the words “seasonal food”. For a general chart, this site is pretty good (there's also a link at the top to see the seasonal chart for fruit).

Here's a nice calculator for figuring out the cost per serving for the type of meat you are looking at. This will really help when doing cross comparisons when looking at the specials. It's also a lot of fun to play around with!

Sometimes the cheaper cuts of meats are something you are not familiar with. For pork, an excellent resource is the Pork producers Website. They have all the best ways of cooking the different cuts. For example, ham hocks should be braised or stewed for the best results. So buy those inexpensive cuts and cook it well! For beef: and for chicken, click on the names to go to good sites. For all other types of meat, google the name+parts+cooking. For example, typing in “lamb parts cooking” brought up Australian Lamb Producer's page on how to cook the different parts of lamb. This will instantly send you to one of the producer websites that will tell you how each part of the animal should be cooked for best (yummy!) results. No more fear of tough, chewy, dry meat!

With all of this couponing, there will be times you have coupons you can't use, or that have expired. Don't throw them away! Save them up and send them to military families. They can use the coupons for 6 months after expiry. This is a great way to give back and help others save money as well. All for the cost of a couple stamps every month or so. Not bad. Here's a good listing of the how-to's.
For where to send them, here's a good site (it is also updated monthly, so you know all of the addresses are still good!).

All of the above links have helped me out tremendously with my grocery budget. Combined with couponing and buying on sale, I am spending less on groceries than ever, and my family is eating good healthy delicious food. There's no fear of running out of toilet paper, toothpaste or other home & beauty items. In these uncertain times it feels good to know that I am taking care of the basics for my family as best as I can, with the least amount of out of pocket expense. And not paying regular price rocks!

Wife to dh, Mommy to my heavenly angel, J (06), and my earthly angels, S (07) and E (10)

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#39 of 45 Old 04-03-2009, 04:46 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Bada-bump!

Ami

Wife to dh, Mommy to my heavenly angel, J (06), and my earthly angels, S (07) and E (10)

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#40 of 45 Old 04-03-2009, 08:40 PM
 
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Great info even for a couponing reject like me

Sabrina , mom to 4 fab kids!

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#41 of 45 Old 05-11-2009, 03:38 AM
 
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My family is stationed overseas in Korea. Does anyone know what state I should look for coupons in or will the military take any coupon?
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#42 of 45 Old 05-11-2009, 03:48 AM - Thread Starter
 
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My family is stationed overseas in Korea. Does anyone know what state I should look for coupons in or will the military take any coupon?
Your commissary should accept all coupons that aren't store coupons. So no Target specific coupons, for example. But the regular coupons that are in the newspaper flyers (which tend to be national) should work no matter what. You can check to see if your commissary accepts them (which they should, from what I've read). You might also be able to get free coupons by asking there too. I know a lot of people send in expired coupons (which you guys can use for 3mos past the expiration date) to different military bases for you guys to use. Good luck!

Ami

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#43 of 45 Old 05-11-2009, 05:19 AM
 
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Your commissary should accept all coupons that aren't store coupons. So no Target specific coupons, for example. But the regular coupons that are in the newspaper flyers (which tend to be national) should work no matter what. You can check to see if your commissary accepts them (which they should, from what I've read). You might also be able to get free coupons by asking there too. I know a lot of people send in expired coupons (which you guys can use for 3mos past the expiration date) to different military bases for you guys to use. Good luck!

Ami
Thanks. We have a little desk in the front with a bunch of coupons. I was thinking of participating in the coupon mailing groups and was worried that the commissary might not accept all the ones I found. THANK YOU AGAIN!
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#44 of 45 Old 05-11-2009, 09:49 AM
 
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I keep a coupon binder sort of like the one that was shown earlier in the thread. One thing I do differently is to use photo page inserts instead of baseball card holders. There are only 2 per page but the pockets are much bigger than the baseball card holder pockets so I don't have to fold/smash coupons in there. The pages are also very filmy so they are not as bulky as baseball card protectors, so they seem to take up less room.

I use an excel spreadsheet for my pricebook so it is easy to change prices and print and put in there behind the coupon pages.
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#45 of 45 Old 05-11-2009, 03:22 PM
 
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I had no clue about military families :

Mama to 9 so far:Mother of Joey (20), Dominick (13), Abigail (11), Angelo (8), Mylee (6), Delainey (3), Colton (2) and Baby 8 and Baby 9 coming sometime in July 2013.   If evolution were true, mothers would have three arms!

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