Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Couponing But Were Afraid To Ask

Without the necessary forethought generally necessary in planning a crock pot dish, I decided to make the pork chalupa recipe Tia showed me on www.allrecipes.com a few days ago. Probably should have decided it when I was at the grocery store before today but it worked out just fine in the end. I raced to Safeway for a pork shoulder roast and dried pinto beans—both on sale! The whole mess is bubbling away in the kitchen and smells pretty good. It is pork + green chilies so it probably will = tasty. It could be an interesting dinner; Michael Jr. just informed me that he’s also making homemade noodles.

I normally wouldn’t have shopped at Safeway without coupons in hand but today it was out of necessity. Around here Winco is where we cheapskates shop. Walmart brags about low prices but at least as far as fresh meat and produce go, it’s nowhere close.

I used to be a serious coupon user but I’ve become seriously lazy about it. How’s about I share what I know about being a black belt coupon user? Maybe it will inspire me to throw myself into it again. Let’s see . . .

1) Search eBay for coupons for items you always buy. You can generally find them in lots of 10-20. Be sure to check that the expiration date is several months off. You can also search online for printable coupons but be sure to check out your store’s coupon policy. Some don’t accept these.

2) Buy 1 to 3 Sunday papers (depending on the size of your family) for coupon inserts. Be sure these are newspapers serving a large metropolitan area—they have more and better coupons. Locally, we’re able to purchase a “bulldog”* edition of the Seattle Times on Saturday morning. In the past I’ve been able to find them at 7-11. The coupon inserts are from Red Plum, Smart Source, and Proctor and Gamble and depending on the Sunday, you could have 3, 2, 1, or even 0. A website such as http://www.grocerycouponguide.com/articles/2009-coupon-insert-schedule can let you know what Sundays you may want extra copies and which Sundays to avoid altogether. You can also ask your non-couponing friends to put them aside for you.

3) You can use a 3-ring binder and clear pocket page inserts for your coupons but this isn’t my favorite method. It involves tons of cutting and regular sorting to purge the expired ones. The one benefit is that when you bring it to the store you have access to all your coupons in case you see an unadvertised sale.

4) My favorite method involves the website http://www.thegrocerygame.com. They offer a free trial so you can check it out and see how it works for you. The way the site works is that someone takes the weekly sales inserts we get in Wednesday’s paper and compares it with the last few months of Sunday newspaper coupons. Each store you sign up to receive information about will have a grid that tells you the name of the product, the size, the sale, the denomination of the coupon you’re looking for, the date it was published in the Sunday paper, the percentage off the product ends up being, and the final price. What’s fabulous about this method is that you can avoid a lot of unnecessary coupon cutting. Each Sunday you can slip your coupon inserts into a file with the date penciled in and when you come across an item you want to purchase using The Grocery Game, you just go to that date and find the one you’re looking for. Sales begin on Wednesday (unless you’re going to Fred Meyer but last I checked they weren’t covered by TGG) but the information isn’t usually up on the website till Saturday night. If you choose to join you’ll have to pick which local stores you’re interested in getting information about. They’re each a separate charge. Despite the cost I would say it’s definitely worth it if you’re committed to using it. My only suggestion would be to save up a few months worth of inserts so you can get the full value as soon as you start. Oh, and one more thing. This method is best for people who are trying to keep their pantries stocked and are willing to cook what’s been on sale and stored.

5) If I find a great sale I’ll often stop by the store on Tuesday night before the new sale begins and hope against hope that they’ve run out. This is a huge opportunity for savings because you can ask for a rain check. Generally these can be used within the next three months and this gives you a chance to search eBay for coupons to use as well. With the right coupons you can actually get things for free using this method.

I hope I haven’t given you way too much information on a subject you have way too little interest!

*An early edition of a paper, generally for out-of-town distribution.

1 comment:

  1. Great information. Didn't realize couponing was such an art. I clip coupons but didn't realize I could really be saving much more. Thanks

    ReplyDelete

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