With the popularity of the hit TLC TV show ‘Extreme Couponing,’ my Mother’s Day gift to all of you is to bring on guest blogger April Krantz, a.k.a “The Crazy Coupon Queen!” April is sharing all of her tips and tricks to getting the most out of your shopping experience.
Also remember to visit the new online boutique at http://mommyhoodtohollywood.com to get fantastic deals on every baby/children’s and mom products you can think of. It’s all about giving your little ones the A-List Life Without Paying the A-List price. So with that in mind, here’s “The Crazy Coupon Queen” April Krantz:
Never thought you could get paid to go shopping? Well that’s what happens when you shop with coupons in hand! As long as you can master the tricks of the trade, it is very possible for one to save as much as 90% off their food bill! Yes, I did say 90%! I can’t lie, it can be a difficult feat, but once you get acquainted with all the “rules” that follow with couponing, you’re on your way to banking! In this blog, I will touch base on how to get started, what to look out for, and ways to beat the system and be a smart consumer!
First and foremost, you must get familiar with your local stores and their rules and regulations as far as accepting coupons. Many states will allow the doubling and tripling of coupons. This means that the store itself will double or triple the value stated on the coupon, but beware; many will cap it to no more than .50 cents to $1.00.
Being organized is always key when holding onto those coupons! Treat coupons as if they were money, after all isn’t that what’s going to be left in your wallet after you use them!? I recommend getting a binder or a coupon organizer wallet. Many will attach to your cart for easier access. I have found that with a binder, it can be opened and laid out for easier viewing. It may take more room, but with all coupons facing you, it will be that much easier to spot all the necessary ones for that particular product!
With a coupon wallet, people are faced with going through each and every coupon trying to find the one that they need for a desired product! This can be difficult, but with a binder, all it takes is a page protector often used for trading cards, and then a solid page protector at the back to place all needed coupons that will be used at the end of the transaction. Choosing to not use anything to hold and organize your coupons may result in dropping and/or losing them in those aisles! Therefore, use that binder, each slot is a perfect size to place those cherished coupons in with a clear view!
Next up is getting those coupons! Newspapers have been on the forefront for getting all the coupons so stock up on getting more than one paper. Also with today’s day and age, the Internet has become a couponer’s best friend for snagging those golden tickets! There are endless sites that help you find and print coupons, or you can just type in the exact product that you are looking for in you search engine, and often times you will find dozens of sites with coupons for that specific merchandise.
Another tip to grabbing those desired coupons is signing up with the manufacturer on their official website, following them on twitter, or even “liking” them on facebook! They will often times mail and/or email you coupons along with alerting you with advance notices on important sales or giveaways!
Here’s also an imperative tip about the printing process in regards to snagging those much needed coupons. It is the fact that many sites will only allow you to print up to 3 of the coupons that you need from that specific product. So with that being said, many savvy shoppers will print from different computers within their own homes, in order to walk away with more coupons. However, always make sure to check the barcode on those printed coupons. This is because if you purchase many of the same products and use the same printed coupon for each, numerous stores will not allow you to use that printed coupon due to the fact that it has the same barcode on each one.
Now it is time to put those coupons into good use! Many stores will take competitor coupons and others won’t. Some may also state that all competitor coupons must have a UPC barcode to scan. Other merchants may price match other competitors ads, but may not allow the use of a coupon for that product they have just price matched. Therefore, weigh your options and choose which way will get you the better deal.
Often times, food chains will allow you to use more than one coupon to a product. This is known as “stacking” your coupons. Many retailers will circulate their own coupon. With this in hand, you are allowed to use a manufacturer coupon so you can benefit from the savings. A good example of this is when I purchase my baby formula. Similac sends me coupons allowing me to save $5.00 off any of their products. A local drug store I often visit will display a coupon that allows you to save $1.00 off the purchase of two Similac products. When a bottle of liquid Similac formula retails for $5.99 and I purchase two at $11.98, I use two Similac manufacturer coupons adding up to a $10.00 savings and then I stack my $1.00 off drug store coupon. I now just got 2 bottles of formula for free! I am very proud to say that my daughter is 4 ½ months old and I have yet to pay for any formula!
Also keep in mind that many stores will not allow you to use more coupons than products purchased. This especially comes into play when using your store and manufacturer coupons together!
Another good tip is never leave out a coupon for an item that you don’t think you will use. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve clipped a coupon that I thought was unnecessary only to be able to use it on a product that I am willing to try, but not willing to spend money on, let alone pay full price on.
Also be on the look out for “store dollars.” Many times drugstores will reward you with “store dollars” to be used on future purchases. On a recent buy, a local drugstore was advertising a brand new stain fighting detergent. It retailed for $5.69, but with a sale price being listed at $3.99. They were also advertising $3.00 in reward dollars with the purchase of three. I had 3 coupons for $3.00 of the listed item. So when I used them I paid .99 cents each for the 3 detergents with the return of $3.00 in reward money. I essentially got the 3 detergents for free because I was able to turn around and use those “$3.00” in rewards for something else!
Get familiar with your store’s sales trends. Many retailers will put the same item on sale every few weeks. A box of cereal may normally retail for $3.69, but during a sale will have a price of 2 for $5.00. So always be on the lookout. Many of these staples will include cleaning products, dry goods, and canned foods.
Another key selling point is the advertised “Buy One, Get One Free” sale! With the purchase of those two products, you are able to use 2 coupons, even though you’re essentially only paying for one! Also pay close attention to the fine print! Many coupons will state exact sizes that it can and cannot be used for. The picture will also show an exact item, but the print may say “for any of the name brand product”.
Also, you may think trial size products are useless, but if you have a coupon that is .75 cents off of a tube of toothpaste for example, and it does not state “excluding trial sizes” you can apply that savings off that trial size toothpaste instead and pay less than .25 cents for that item or even get it for free!
Don’t limit yourself to just grocery staples either. Often times, department stores as well as toy stores will market their own coupons. Using this method, I was able to apply a $5.00 off manufacturer coupon at a major toy store chain when they were advertising a buy one get one free toy event! A learning toy that retailed for $25.00 was listed in the BOGO free event and allowed me to get two toys for $20.00 after applying my $5.00 off coupon, this gave me a savings of $30.00!
Many retailers will also send out general savings coupons. These coupons compose of $5.00 off of a purchase of $30.00 or more or even upwards of $10.00 off of a purchase of $20.00. As long as you can stick with the mindset of keeping your spending to that limit, you will get the most out of your savings. Never forget, it is the retailers purpose to get you into their stores and use your coupons, but spend more than what you intended, so be disciplined and don’t get sucked into this.
As a 26 year old new mom, it is essential for me to find ways to save so that I can apply my savings to better things, like my family! Most essential items people shop for will not last forever, so why pay full price for them? The money you will save will not only bring you a great deal of satisfaction, but will also provide you with excess funds that can be put towards more rewarding things in life like a nice vacation or better yet, a college education! So don’t get caught up in the full price hype or be overwhelmed by how to get or use coupons. With patience, knowledge, and a good pair of scissors, it IS possible to get a better bang for your buck!
-The Crazy Coupon Queen!-