Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Couponing 101 Part 2: Where to Find Coupons

Congratulations! You've made it to the next step to couponing! If you are just tuning in today and want to read the first steps to saving a buck with your coupons then read here.

Now that you have your coupon binder with category dividers and baseball card holders all ready to store your coupons in and you have successfully subscribed to the Sunday paper let's learn about the different types of coupons out there and exactly where to get them.

What are the different types of coupons?
Manufacturer's coupon-This is probably the most commonly found coupon. It is put out by the manufacturer and can be used at all stores that accept manufacturer's coupons. Most commonly these are the one's found in your Sunday paper.

Store coupon-This is a coupon that is put out by the store but can only be used at that particular store. (Exceptions will apply-such as when a store's policy says "accepts competitor's coupons").

eCoupons-In my previous post I talked about registering your grocery cards on cellfire.com, shortcuts.com and your local grocer's site. Ecoupons are the coupons that you electronically load to this card. They are automatically taken off at the register. *Note: they are sometimes unreliable. There are often times when the grocery store's register doesn't take it off for whatever reason. They will tell you that they can't control it and they are not responsible for the eCoupons. So, if it is taken off, then BONUS, but don't count on it 100%.

Catalinas-Often referred to as a "CAT" in the couponing world, these little gems are printed after you check out. They are often triggered by something you purchased and will produce a "like" catalina (or a CAT) for the same item that you bought. Other times they seem to have no relevance to anything you buy. And even sometimes it will produce a CAT that says, "$1.00 off OYNO (on your next order). I even got a CAT the other day for a free Redbox rental! Often times you don't know when they will print, BUT, if you follow the couponing world then you can get the inside scoop of what, and how many, products will produce a particular catalina. These are usable at the store in which they are printed at. Unless a store advertises that they take competitors coupons you may be able to use them elsewhere. And even can sometimes get a manufacturer's CAT that can be used anywhere!

Peelies-These coupons are found directly on the product that you are buying. They are meant to be peeled off and used at that visit. These fall under the category of a manufacturer coupon. I don't know the exact etiquette, but I believe it very much frowned upon to peel peelies off of other packages that you don't intend to buy to use at a later time. So, just peel off the coupon of the item that you are buying that day.

Blinkies-These are manufacturer's coupons that are located right near the particular item that the coupon is for. It is usually in a small machine looking deal that has a blinking light (sometimes). You can pull out a coupon for the item and use it at that time. I believe, and don't quote me on this cause, like I said, I am new to all this, you can take a few extra for later use on the product.

Tear pads-These are the same idea as a blinkie, but it's just a pad of coupons for a particular item that you can tear off a coupon (or two or three or, well, you get the point) to use.

Where else can I find coupons?
Stores take coupons from all the different places that I listed above but you can also get and print coupons on the internet. There are MANY sites to find internet coupons:
Some places to start are:
-Smartsource.com
-Redplum.com
-coupons.com

In addition you can visit your favorite stores and brands websites to obtain coupons. These would include:
-Target
-Wholefoods
-Fresh & Easy
-Fry's
-Horizon
-Stoneyfield
-Aquafresh
-Barbara's
etc, etc., etc. You get the point. Just get out there on the Internet and search the brands websites that you buy the most. Most of them will have coupons. Keep in mind though, when printing coupons, each computer is allowed to print 2 of the same coupon and that's it. So if you go to Horizon.com and print a coupon for $.50 off milk you will only be able to print that coupon twice from each computer in your home until the site "resets" the coupons. Once they reset the coupons (which can happen often on some sites and not-so-often on other sites) then you can print 2 again. Exception to the "2 print rule" is a store coupon. Ex: Whole foods. All the coupons on their site can be printed as many times as you want because it is not a manufacturer's coupon. Note: YOU MAY NOT MAKE PHOTOCOPIES OF COUPONS! This is fraudulent and could possibly make stores change their coupon policies because they will not get reimbursed for these coupons. DO NOT MAKE COPIES!

I would also advise you not to print all the coupons that you *think* you might use right away. Coupons have expiration dates. Some expire within 30 days and some expire a few months out. So, because you only have a 2 print maximum, only print them around the time you will be using them to ensure that they will still be usable. *Exception* Sometimes there are coupons that are rare and the manufacturer only puts out a certain amount of and once that number is reached then they are no longer available. These you need to print right away. You will get to know the ones that you don't see very often and which ones come around all the time. Most of the couponing sites will tell you this upfront. A good example is that yesterday I saw a coupon for $1/1 Mission brand tortilla package. I wasn't at a printer at the time of seeing it on the site I follow so I just went to print it now and it is no longer available. Booo Hoooo!!!!

Also, hook up with some couponing friends and trade coupons. If a friend of yours is loyal to, let's say, Crest toothpaste and you won't touch that stuff see if you can trade him/her for his/her Colgate toothpaste coupons instead.

Look at the store! May stores offer coupon booklets full of excellent coupons. Some are store specific but many have manufacturer coupons that you can use at numerous stores. Check displays near the entrance or ask at the customer service desk.

There are also people out there that "sell" coupons for a small fee. That's probably the wrong way for me to say it because they aren't allowed to "sell" coupons per se. You will see it worded that they are giving you coupons for, let's say, $.05/coupon and selling their time of gathering, clipping and sending you the coupons. I haven't tried this, but have only heard about it through the couponing grapevine. Why would you buy a coupon if you are trying to save money you ask? Well, if you pay only $.05 for a coupon on a product that you can then turn around and get for FREE with that coupon it is a very nominal fee to get something for nothing.

The last way (that I can think of) to get coupons is to email, call or write letters to your favorite brands. If you never see a coupon for a particular items or brand, email them. Most companies are more than happy to send you some in the mail so that you keep buying their products. I never hurts to try! They may even send you some free samples along with those coupons!

Are there coupon blogging websites I should be following?
There are an enormous amount of couponing blog sites that help you navigate your way through the weekly deals at different stores. These are imperative for any good couponer to follow unless you make it your full time job to do it on your own. There are just sooo many coupons out there, so many sales and so many deals that you just can't keep up with them all on your own. I follow 3 pretty religiously.

I would also suggest finding a coupon blogging site that is in your area. Many sales are different from region to region and this will help you stay on top of the sales/coupons available in your town. There are even different sales within the same affiliate (i.e Kroger) within the same city. There have been times when I go to Fry's here in Phoenix thinking that something will be on sale (like the website said) only to find out it isn't going on at my store. Most of these sites also include organic deals going on too!

The Cents'able Shoppin'-Sheryl is here in Mesa, AZ so most (if not all) of her coupons/sales match up with the stores that I shop at. She is soooo on top of it all and a wealth of couponing knowledge. I visit her site daily just to see if there is anything that is of interest to me.

Money Saving Mom-Crystal (and her team) are like the coupon queens! She has excellent coupon information as well as many other posts on frugal living. I check in on her site maybe twice a week just to see what good info she has.

Organic Deals-I LOVE this for all my organic needs. I think this is based in CA, so sometimes the deals don't match my stores (like Whole Foods) but there are still links to some great organic coupons!

Other sites that I visit occasionally:
Saving Naturally
The Krazy Coupon Lady (she was featured on TLC's Extreme Couponing)

What is all those crazy couponing terms that I see on those sites?
SS=Smart Source. This is a couponing book that comes in your Sunday paper. On your favorite couponing sites you will see coupons referred to like this: $2/1 Colgate toothpaste (SS 1/30) That means that there is a $2.00 off one Colgate toothpaste coupon in the Smart Source that came in your 1/30/11 Sunday paper insert. If you didn't cut that coupon but want to use it now you know exactly where to go in your file cabinet since you filed them like I showed you in my previous post.
RP=Red Plum. This is also a couponing booklet that comes in your Sunday paper.
PG=Proctor & Gamble. These usually come in you Sunday paper and are filled with coupons of Proctor & Gamble products.
ECB=Extra Care Bucks. These are the coupon type things that you can earn at CVS. (See their game here)
RR=Register Rewards @ Walgreens (see their game here)
OYNO=On your next offer (ex: $1 off oyno)
WYB=when you buy (ex: $1 off wyb 2)
BOGO/B1G1=Buy one, get one
MFG/MFR=Manufacturer
OOP=Out of pocket
MM-Money Maker. This is when the item priced low enough for you to use a coupon and actually make money on it. Can you imagine?!?! The store "paying" you to shop there! It happens and when it does it's so exciting!

Great job on step #2. You're homework is to poke around the internet a little and see the different sites that I listed. Get familiar with some of the terms and maybe even sign up for a few websites so that you can print their coupons. Next I will help you put all those coupons to good use. We will learn about when you can (and can't) use a coupon, stacking, competitor's coupons, etc in lesson #3. Stay tuned!

2 comments:

tanya said...

Great info Tracey...thanks for sharing. Couponing is intimidating, but I love how you are breaking it down. I might try it. :)

mwr2sbr said...

Thank you Tracey.