Category Archives: coupons

How do you get started with couponing?

A reader sent in the following question:

How do you even get started with the crazy couponing? I request samples and sometimes they come with coupons. Like today I went shopping got $90 worth of stuff and spent like $49 after coupons. I really would love to be able to do that all the time and if possible get the total even lower. I just happened to get lucky this time.

Hi Kelly!

Great question! I was in the same position as you were. Saving money here and there, but not having consistent savings. Here is how I got started:

-Pay attention to all the sales. Don’t just shop at one store. I used to just shop at Rite Aid, but now I shop wherever I can get a good sale!

-Coupon matchups. I use  for all the coupon matchups, but you can find matchups on many other websites also. Find one that you like the most and check it on a regular basis. Things do change over the course of the week, so make sure you check a few times a week!

-Get lots of coupons! Stock up on newspapers, order inserts, order the coupons you KNOW you will use, go through recycling (if it’s allowed), ask stores if you can have leftover newspapers at the end of the night. Make sure you check out The Sunday Coupon Preview to see what coupons will be available that weekend. My family goes through personal hygiene stuff very quickly (shampoo, conditioner, body wash, toothpaste, etc) so those are the coupons I look for! If your family goes through things like cleaning products or juices more, look specifically for those coupons! Also barter and trade with family and friends. My mom always gave me diaper coupons and I gave her cat food coupons.

-Break up one shopping trip into a few separate transactions, especially if you are going to be getting coupons back. For example: Crest toothpaste is on sale for $3 this week, and you get a $3 +UP Reward. Pantene is on sale also for 2 for $7. First, purchase two Crest toothpastes and use a $1 off 2 coupon. You will get $6 in +UP Rewards. (By using the coupon and getting the +UP Rewards back, you are essentially MAKING money!). Use that toward your purchase of 2 bottles of Pantene and pay only $1 for two bottles of Pantene. So you pay 50 cents per bottle. Rite Aid’s policy is that you can use the +UP Rewards the next day, so you will have to go a few different times during the week. Check your store’s coupon policy.

-Try different brands. Don’t always stick to the same brand, because you will end up paying more. Sometimes, a store brand is just as good as a national brand. I have been buying Rite Aid toilet paper (24 rolls for $1.49!!!!). That is MUCH cheaper than one of the major brands on sale, even if I did use a coupon.

-Make sure you keep your loyalty cards and coupons with you! You never know when you can find a good sale!

-Shop the clearance section! Walgreens often has many items on clearance. You can use the coupons on those clearance items.

-Keep calm! Sometimes a cashier will give you a hard time about your coupons. You can always call a manager and refer to the coupon policy. Sometimes that won’t work. No big deal! Just go to the next store. It’s not worth it to create bad relationships with cashiers. I have specific cashiers that I will go to, just because I’ve established a relationship with them already. Smile, be polite and always know what coupons you have and make sure they are for the correct items.

-Be patient. It took me about a year to get the hang of couponing on a bigger scale. Just make sure you research, pay attention, know the store policies and if you don’t have a major savings, don’t get discouraged. Just try again next time!

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Diamond Candles!

Have you seen Diamond Candles? They are beautiful candles that have a ring inside! The ring is valued anywhere from $10 to $5000! Usually they are $24.95 from the Diamond Candles website, but if you log on to Plum District today, you can get a $25 voucher for $15!!  Use code SWEETSATURDAY to get 25% off and make this deal $11.75!!!!! It doesn’t get better than that! Once you get your voucher, sign on to Diamond Candles and pick your fave!

Saving Money on Food

Food is generally the NUMBER 1 THING people want to save money on. Why not? We eat it everyday, and if you have teenagers, you probably need more than most! So how can you save money on food with coupons? There are a few different options for you!

Most coupons ARE for pre-packaged food, but that doesn’t mean you can’t eat healthy! In fact, there are lots of healthy food coupons out there!

Buy canned or frozen veggies. Green Giant is one manufacturer that offers coupons on a consistent basis. These are just as healthy as fresh veggies.

Buy bagged salad. Fresh Express is a newer brand, and they were running various promotions recently. I got a coupon for a free bag of salad along with 4 $1 coupons!

Fruit cups and fruit in a can are another healthy option. Dole offers coupons for these.

Buy in-season foods. They are going to be cheaper. The foods that are in season are usually going to be on the first page of the sale ad.

Go to this map to see what is in season in your area.

Plan meals around produce that’s on sale or what you have on hand already! Winter is a great time for soups and stews, and you can usually make them with whatever you have in your pantry already. Pastas, beans and vegetables are great for different kinds of soups.

Buy less meat and more vegetables! Use vegetables to stretch your meat dishes. For example, if you are making a pot roast, buy a smaller cut, and make more roasted vegetables.

Don’t buy pre-cut veggies! It seems convenient in time, but it’s extremely inconvenient for your wallet! Take the extra 5 or 10 minutes to wash and cut your vegetables!

Buy produce from local farmers and vendors.

Shop farmer’s markets at the end of the day.

Make your own fruit salad. Buying packaged fruit salad can be extremely expensive.

Grind your own meat. Invest in a good meat grinder, or if you have a KitchenAid stand mixer, get the food grinder attachment. You can grind up meat for meatballs, burgers or tacos in no time!

Buy reduced price meat.

Buy cheaper cuts of meat.

Buy bigger packages and freeze the leftovers.

Eat less meat!

Most coupons for meat are available around the four major “meat eating” holidays. Hot dog coupons are available before Memorial Day and 4th of July. Ham and Turkey coupons are available before Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Packaged meat coupons are readily available. (Sara Lee, Butterball, etc.)