Thursday, January 12, 2012

Couponing Basics Part 5 - Planning to Use Coupons

You're stocked up with coupons, have them organized, and feel ready to go. You could jump in the car right now, head to the store, and use those coupons right away to save you money off of full retail prices. Reaping the full savings benefits of coupons, though, takes a little more forethought and planning.

In my opinion, it's easiest to begin couponing by selecting one store to shop. For this post, let's pick Harris Teeter (grocery store).

To maximize savings when using coupons, your goal is to pair coupons with a store sale. It's important to recognize when a sale combined with a coupon will create a price low enough that you should buy more than one of that item (stock pile). By doing so, you'll already have the item in your home, bought at a low price, when prices are higher down the road. I keep a copy of The Krazy Coupon Lady stock pile price sheet inside of my coupon binder. I can reference this sheet when I'm at a store and unsure about a price. A number of coupon websites, like Southern Savers, will also tell you when an item is considered to be at a rock bottom price.

So you've picked a store (Harris Teeter), and you know you're looking for good sale price. Now what?

Check the weekly store ad for sale items that match your yourself some time and effort by visiting websites like Southern Savers, The Krazy Coupon Lady, or my own little blog, Allison's Durham Deals, which find these deals and their matching coupons for you. You can see my list of Harris Teeter matchups here.

Below, you'll see an example of a matchup list for this week's Harris Teeter Ad. These matchups usually show you the sale price, using a store card, as well as any coupons needed. They will then show you the final price you would pay after store card and coupons.

Centrum Pro Nutrients Omega 3 - $9.03
- $5/1 coupon (1/8 insert) or $5/1 printable (click health care)
- $5 e-vic coupon  (add to your store card)
= $0.97 Money Maker

Nivea Lip Replenishing - $1.50
- $3/2 Nivea Lip Care (1/1 Red Plum insert)
= two for FREE

Starkist Tuna Pouches - $1.00

Colgate Toothpaste - (BOGO - rings up half price) - $.149
- $0.75/1 coupon (1/1 Smart Source insert) x 2 = FREE

General Mills Milk 'n Cereal Bars - $2.00
- $0.60 printable x 2 = $0.80

Next, it's time to look at the match ups and think about which items you'd like to buy. When doing this, it's necessary to be open to trying new brands and varieties of products. I take notice of the coupons needed for the deals. I check to see which coupons I have (you won't always have the ones listed), as well as which items I can still get coupons for by printing them, like the Starkist and cereal bars above. I also check if there are any electronic coupons that I will need to add to my store card before I shop, like the e-vic coupon for the Centrum Supplement.

While I look at the coupon match ups, I make a list of items I'm interested in buying. I record the sale price,  coupon value, and final price for each item (just my preference). After, I look through my coupon binder and pull out the coupons I will need for these items. If there are printable coupons I don't already have, I print them at that time. I also visit the store websites and add any e-coupons I still need.

When my list is finished, I put all of the coupons I've pulled, along with the list, inside of an envelope, which I place in a pocket inside my coupon binder. The list and envelope help keep me organized later when I'm shopping. I'll know exactly which items I'm looking for, and all of the necessary coupons will be right in front of me.

Quick Review:
  1. Check coupon matchups
  2. Identify items you'd like to buy
  3. Make list of items and coupons you'll need
  4. Find and pull or print needed coupons, add e-coupons to store card
  5. Put coupons and list in a spot that is separate from the rest of your coupons
Reader Response: You're almost ready to shop! Do you have any questions about planning for coupon shopping??

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