1. Change the Way You Shop
In order to be successful with couponing, you’ve got to start with a big huge mental shift. You’ll be leaving behind that old way of shopping and opening your mind to something new. No worries. Change is not always bad. In fact, this kind of change will better your life in the long run. So get ready to say goodbye to the old and welcome in the new! No more:
- Late afternoon runs to the grocery
- Long grocery lists planned out regardless of price.
- Weekly menu planning without glancing at the ad
- Huge monthly shopping trips to the local wholesale clubs
- Meal planning according to what’s on sale
- Visiting a couple of different stores to save 50-90%
- Shopping with coupons while a product is on sale and stocking up while it’s cheap or free
We’re so excited to share these strategies with you. Read on to find out where to get the coupons and how to put them to use.
2: Show Me the Coupons
So “where do you find all the coupons?” you ask. It’s really not a secret. They’re everywhere!
1. Newspaper Inserts: The best place to find coupons is in the Sunday paper. There are three different inserts that come out on a regular basis: Smart Source (SS), Red Plum (RP) and Procter & Gamble (PG). To become a Krazy Coupon Lady (or Gent), you’ll want to get your hands on two to four copies of each of these coupon inserts. Sounds a bit bizarre but the way to save krazy money is to buy multiple products when they’re at rock bottom prices.
2. Printable Coupons: Printable coupons are starting to take over the coupon world. From Coupons.com to Facebook to manufacturer websites, you’ll find them in more places than you’d ever imagine. The best part about it: they’re free. Of course you’ll need a computer and a printer, and you’ll have to download a bit of software. But rest assured, printing coupons from your home computer is safe and easy! Best news ever: TheKrazyCouponLady.com has compiled the most up-to-date, comprehensive, inclusive printable coupon database on the web. You’ll find over 2,000 printable coupons just waiting at your fingertips. All you have to do is click and print.
3. Mobile Coupons: Now days there’s a new way to save that’s even easier and faster than newspaper and printables. Introducing, mobile coupons -- coupons you get through your “mobile” phone. Programs and apps like Ibotta, Checkout 51, Cartwheel, Shopmium allow you to download coupons to your phone and redeem cash back savings after you’ve purchased a product. This is a great way to save – especially for the busiest of us all.
4. eCoupons: eCoupon is just a shortened word for electronic coupon. These coupons are loaded onto your store loyalty card via your phone or computer. Several grocery stores have eCoupon programs, like Safeway, Kroger and Publix to name a few. To access eCoupons, head to your store site, register, add your card number to your account, peruse the coupons, click the ones you want and load them to your card. To redeem, just swipe your card at checkout and the discount is automatically deducted from your balance.
3: Get Organized!
Organizing your coupons will either make or break your couponing experience. But don’t worry – we have a few different methods to help you keep all of those little slips of paper organized.
FILE BOX METHOD
Introducing the compact, easy-to-use, feather-weight file box. All you do is:
- Get a box -- make sure it’s divided on the inside by either folders or tabs.
- Pull all of the inserts out of the newspaper and plop them in a file folder.
- Label each tab or folder with the date and name of the insert. Since we list the coupons with this info, it’ll make finding them a cinch. For example, when you see this coupon matched up with a sale on Yoplait at Target, you’ll know if came from the June 8th SmartSource.
$0.40/6 – Yoplait Yogurt Cups from SS 6/8 Voila! You’re organized.
BINDER METHOD: Of course, if you’re a little more extreme, have more time or just a stronger desire to be organized, you can always use the binder method.
1. Organize by Category: Organizing by category takes more time up front, less time shopping, and at one time was the most popular method among Krazy Ladies polled on our website. It requires a few hours of time each week to clip and organize all your coupons. You’ll use baseball card holders to store the clipped coupons. 60 pages is probably enough, and these run about $5 for a package of 30. After you’ve purchased your card holders, feel free to use the Krazy Coupon Lady’s Printable Table of Contents and Category Pages to further perfect your organization. With each coupon in it’s own slot in the right category, shopping becomes heavenly. Download here. Now your organization is complete, and you’re ready for the real fun: how and when to use your coupons.
4: Timing is Everything
With your newly organized coupon binder in hand, you’re ready to discover the secret to Krazy Couponing success: Timing!
1. Match Coupons with Sales and Promotions: One of the biggest mistakes you can make is using a coupon just because you have it. The key is to wait until that item goes on sale, until you find a store coupon or a mobile coupon to go with it or when the store runs a promotion.
2. Stack Your Coupons: Stacking simply means using one manufacturer coupon and one store coupon together on the same item. Remember, you can never use two manufacturer coupons on one item. Stores like Target, Walgreens, Kroger, Rite Aid and Safeway, just to name a few, all issue store coupons and allow them to be stacked with a manufacturer coupon.
3. Double Coupons: You’ve probably heard about stores that “double” coupons, meaning they accept your coupon at twice the face value. So, for example, if a coupon is $0.50 off one item, the store will honor that coupon at $1.00 off. If you find a store that doubles or is having a doubling promotion, jump on it.
4. The Krazy Coupon Lady’s Perfect Storm: The absolute perfect scenario occurs when more than one of the above “couponing stars” align. Imagine: a Buy One Get One store promo + a manufacturer coupon + an Ibotta offer! That’s right. The savings just tripled. In fact, that’s exactly how you end up bringing items home for free, or better yet, how you leave the store with more money in your pocket than you started with!
5: Learn the Lingo!
You might be a Krazy Coupon Lady if... your shopping reports sound like complex algorithms. It’s almost laughable how ridiculous the code of couponers is! To ease the learning curve and help you talk the talk, here’s a glossary of some of the krazy abbreviations you’ll see around TheKrazyCouponLady.com.
$1.00/1, $2.00/1, etc: One dollar off one product, two dollars off one product, etc.
$1.00/2, $2.00/2, etc: One dollar off two products, two dollars off two products, etc. You must buy 2 items to receive any savings; you cannot redeem the coupon on one product for half the value.
BOGO: Buy one, get one. Will usually end with “free” or “half off” meaning buy one, get one half off, or buy one get one free.
B1G1, B2G1: Another way to write ‘buy one, get one’. The “B” stands for “buy”, the G stands for “get”. The numbers indicate how many of a product you must buy to qualify and the number of products you get when you redeem the coupon or offer. B1G1= Buy one, get one. B2G1= Buy two, get one B2G2= Buy two, get two
Blinkie: Manufacturer coupons dispensed by coupon machines found in grocery aisles next to products. Recognize them by the blinking red light. Dispenses coupons one at a time in intervals. Manufacturer blinkie coupons may be redeemed at any store, not necessarily the store in which you found them.
Catalina: Sometimes abbreviated as “CAT”, Catalina coupon machines located at register, dispense long receipt-like coupons that may be used on a future purchase. Catalinas, refer to the coupons themselves which may be manufacturer or store coupons. Some Catalina coupons are advertised and some are generated based on consumer behavior.
Coupon Insert: Coupon circulars inserted into Sunday newspapers amongst the other advertisements. Smart Source (SS), Red Plum (RP) and Proctor and Gamble (PG) put out coupon inserts, sometimes just called “inserts”. Coupon inserts are a valuable money-saving tool and The Krazy Coupon Lady recommends buying multiple Sunday newspapers in order to have enough coupons to create a stockpile.
Coupon: A note from a store or manufacturer that entitles shopper to a discount on specific product. Coupons may be clipped from the newspaper, printed from the internet or even downloaded to your store loyalty card. Couponing: [koo-pon-ing, Kyoo-] (v.) the practice of redeeming discount coupons in order to save money.
Couponer: [koo-pon-er, kyoo-] (n.) A person who collects and saves coupons to redeem them on products, such as groceries.
Double Coupons: Select stores always double coupons up to a certain value, usually $0.50. If your store doubles coupons up to $0.50 off, any coupon $0.50 or under will be doubled in value. Coupons $0.51 or greater will be worth face value, no doubling. You do not need to present two coupons for one item. Each coupon will be worth twice the value. Other stores may double coupons on a particular week day, usually a slower day like Tuesday. Other stores may offer physical store ‘twice-the-value’ coupons. Even other stores may feature double coupons on a special promo week basis and will advertise this in their weekly ad.
eCoupons: Electronic coupons may be downloaded onto your store loyalty card or cell phone. Download from your PC or go mobile and download to your loyalty card through your cell phone. Grocery coupons must be downloaded to your loyalty card and will be deducted automatically when you swipe your card at checkout. E-coupons may be downloaded to your cell-phone for other retail items such as movie rentals. Download a coupon using the mobile ap and show your discount code to your cashier.
Extra Bucks: CVS rewards program, formerly called ECBs. Extra Bucks print according to the store’s weekly or monthly advertised deals. When you make a qualifying purchase, you receive the coordinating Extra Bucks value as advertised. Extra Bucks are similar to catalinas or register rewards, but they print directly onto the bottom of your receipt.
EXP: Expires or Expiration Date
Handling Fee: Refers to an amount, usually $0.08, paid by the manufacturer to reimburse the store for the trouble of accepting a coupon. The handling fee is usually used to pay a clearing house to sort, organize and bill the manufacturer. If a store chose to sort its own coupons, they will keep the handling fee.
KCL: Krazy Coupon Lady, refers to TheKrazyCouponLady.com
Krazy: Intensely enthusiastic about or preoccupied with saving money by using coupons.
MIR: Mail in Rebate, refers to rebates which must be submitted by mail. These are the traditional rebates that require you to mail in both your receipt and proof of purchase in the form of UPC barcodes. Manufacturer: The company who produces the brand items: Dove soap manufacturer, Pace Salsa manufacturer, etc.
MFR: Manufacturer abreviation.
Manufacturer Coupon: A coupon created by the manufacturer, or by a marketing company on the manufacturer’s behalf. Manufacturer offers a discount to shoppers in order to entice them to buy their product. When a coupon is redeemed the manufacturer reimburses the store for the entire value of the coupon, plus a handling fee, aprox $0.08.
One Coupon per Purchase: Refers to your ability to use one coupon per item. Meant to enforce the point that you may not use two of the exact same coupon for one item.
One Coupon per Transaction: Limits you to only using one of this coupon per transaction. You may request to do separate transactions. Example: If you have 5 coupons that read “one coupon per transaction” you may request to separate into 5 transactions and pay 5 times.
Peelie: Adhesive manufacturer coupons found on products in the store. Peelies are often good on a wider selection of products than the one it is stuck to. Be sure to read the fine print on the peelie to discover if the coupon may be used on a smaller size or different variety of the same product, to allow you to maximize savings.
P&G: Proctor and Gamble manufacture a wide range of consumer goods and are one of the largest corporations in the world. Proctor and Gamble puts out monthly coupon inserts filled with coupons for a variety of Proctor and Gamble produced brands, just a few of which include: Always, Bounty, Crest, Dawn, Gillette, Olay, Pampers and Tide.
Purchase: A purchase refers to buying any item. If I buy 30 items on a single shopping trip, I just made 30 purchases.
Purchase-Based Coupon: Purchase-Based coupons specify a dollar amount off a minimum dollar future purchase. Some common values: $2 off $10, $3 off $15, $4 off $20. Purchase based coupons may be used in addition to store and manufacturer coupons.
Raincheck: A Rain Check is a written slip that you can request from a store when a sale item is out of stock. When the store restocks the item, after the sale period is over, a rain check entitles you to purchase for the previous sale price. Store may include an expiration date as well as a quantity limit on your rain check. Rain checks are usually issued at the customer service desk.
Rebate: A rebate is a refund of part or all of the amount paid. KCL refers to rebates as programs that offer you cash back for making a qualified purchase. Rebates are sponsored by a store or a manufacturer. Either clip and mail UPC barcodes or enter receipt proof of purchase online, then wait for your rebate check in the mail.
RR: Register Rewards. Walgreens drugstore rewards program, and version of the catalina coupon. Look for the same machines located at register, dispensing long receipt-like coupons that may be used on a future purchase. RRs cannot be ‘rolled’ like catalinas.
Rolling Catalinas: Refers to the practice of separating your purchase into multiple transactions in order to use register catalina coupons from your first transaction to pay for your second transaction. Another catalina prints from the 2nd transaction that pays for the 3rd transaction and so on.
RP: Red Plum. Formerly known as Vallasis, Red Plum coupon inserts and website feature coupons from a variety of manufacturers. Red Plum is part of Valassis Interactiv.
SS: Smart Source. A marketing company, like RP, Smart Source coupon inserts and website feature coupons from a variety of manufacturers. Smart Source is part of News America Marketing Co. Smart Source coupon inserts can be found in most Sunday papers.
Stacking: Stacking may refer to using any two promotions together. When a coupon coincides with a promotion, we say "stack the coupon with the sale or promotion".
Stacking Coupons: Stacking coupons refers to using both a store coupon and a manufacturer coupon on one product. Nearly all stores will allow you to “stack”. Only one manufacturer coupon may be used per item.
Stockpile (v.): to buy many items at a time in order to build your stockpile.
Stockpile (n.): A food storage or stash of food and non-food items. Stockpiling is a key principle to The Krazy Coupon Lady methods. Buy items when they’re on sale and you have a coupon. Buy products before you need them and build up a stockpile of food and toiletries. When you run out of an item shop from your stockpile.
Store Coupon: A coupon created by the store to entice you to buy a certain product at their store. Stores receive no reimbursement from store coupons. Store coupons may be found in the weekly ad, printed online or downloaded as e-coupons. Store Loyalty Card: A free card which you present at checkout to receive additional savings. Fill out a short application to receive a loyalty card at your local grocer. If you don’t want to carry the card, the cashier can look up your preferred card by entering your ten digit phone number.
Transaction: A transaction refers to your entire purchase, especially the payment you make for that purchase. If I buy 30 items and then pay the cashier, I just made one transaction.
Tear Pad: A pad of manufacturer coupons found near product on shopping aisles. Tear pad manufacturer coupons may be used at any store, not just the one where you found the coupon.
WAGS: Abbreviation for Walgreens Drugstore
UPC: Universal Product Code. Bar code printed on product packages that can be scanned electronically.
WYB: When You Buy. Some sales or coupons require purchase of multiple items. When reporting a deal on KCL, we always include a final price. Example: Buy 2 Mint Milano cookies $2.00 each, use 1 $1.00/2 coupons, Final Price: $1.50 each, WYB 2. You must buy 2 in order to use the $1.00/2 coupon, so the final price states “WYB 2″.
YNRFD6PITP: You’re Now Ready For Day Six: Power in the Policies.
6: Power in the Policies
Now that you know how to clip, file, organize, shop, talk the talk and walk the walk, you’re almost there, but you’re not done yet! All your coupon skills are useless without a solid understanding of store policies. To arm yourself with the right kind of knowledge, follow these important steps:
1. Pick a Store: Since couponing can be a bit overwhelming in the beginning, make it easier by getting to know one store at a time.
2. Get the Store Policy: Once you’ve picked your store, it’s time to find the policy. You can find them on our store pages. But for some reason, if it’s not on our site, conduct your own search by going to the store’s official website and entering “coupon policy” in the search bar. Now read the policy.
3. Keep the Policy on Hand: After you’ve found the policy, be sure be armed with it when you go shopping.
4. Befriend the Bigwigs: Take the time to set up a meeting with management. If you are serious about couponing, this really is an important step. Through experience I’ve learned that sooner or later you will end up speaking with the manager. So why not ensure that it happens in a controlled, peaceful environment rather than in the midst of a controversial discussion with your cashier? By doing each of the things we’ve listed, you’ll be armed with the right kind of knowledge to begin your couponing adventures.
7: Checkout Checklist
To be completely honest, one of the scariest parts of couponing is the checkout process. The good news: there are steps to take to help avoid that anxiety at checkout! And here they are:
1. Get Organized: Before you leave the house, make a plan of what you want to buy. Write down the items, the prices and the quantities. If you are doing multiple transactions, separate the items into lists before ever leaving your house.
2. Choose Time of Day Wisely: The less crowded the store, the less stressed both you and your cashier will be. I have found that early in the morning, early afternoon, or late at night is best for me.
3. Make Smart Mom Moves: If you have young kids like we do, shop at a time when they are at their best -- in the morning or right after naps. Happy kids make a huge difference. Bring along something to occupy their minds or a treat to occupy their tummies! With these three steps, you’re much more likely to check out with ease!
8: Stockpiling Sense
By stockpiling while something is at a rock bottom price, you won’t have to pay full price when you run out and have to have it. The best part about it is you can apply this principle to both grocery and retail. Read on!
UNDERSTAND THE PRINCIPLE: Have you ever purchased a child’s coat from a clearance rack in March at a larger size for the next winter? If you have, then you’ve already had experience in stockpiling! By purchasing that jacket in March, you easily saved 75% off what you’d pay the following October. You thought ahead and purchased a discounted product knowing you’ll need it in the future. Now take that “buy ahead” principle and apply it to the grocery store! Buy three bottles of mustard when they’re nearly free knowing that in the next few months you’ll likely run out. You now just saved yourself from purchasing a full priced bottle down the road.
DO IT RESPONSIBLY: Stockpiling responsibly is what will make the difference in your budget. Keyword: responsibly. In order for stockpiling to really save you money, you must be reasonable.
9. Finding Balance
When I first started couponing I was so excited about all the money I was saving that I thought I needed to cash in on EVERY deal at EVERY store! How wrong I was. In order to make KCL a way of life, you must achieve balance and figure out a way to work it into your everyday life. To get there, remember the following:
Start Slow: Here I go again repeating myself. I’ve said it once, but I’ll say it again: learn one store at a time. The easiest way to choose a store is to pick what is closest to your house. You’ll be going there often, so it makes sense to find a store nearby.
Remember Sales Cycle: Remind yourself that sales cycle. When you see an amazing deal, no need to drop everything, abandon your family and rush out the door in a frantic mess. Instead, realize that you’ll most likely see a similar sale on that same product in a few months
Buy What You Need: Often we get so wrapped up in a good deal that we purchase for the sake of purchasing. No need to go there people. Buy what you need and will use.
Set Limits: Prioritize. Set a time limit. Figure out how to incorporate savings into a reasonable amount of time each week and stick to it. After all, moderation is the key to maintenance.
Inhale, Relax and Enjoy: When done right, couponing not only becomes a way of life but it becomes a hobby – fun, enjoyable, thrilling and rewarding! So treat it as such and enjoy!
10: Pay it Forward
Couponing has blessed my life in ways I never imagined. It’s given me the opportunity to pay it forward in more ways than one.
DONATE: Recently I was able to donate over 300 pounds of food to my local food bank and over $1000 worth of product to the IRC for refugees in my local city. What an amazing opportunity! Couponing has given me the gift of giving.
EDUCATE: As amazing as it is to make donations, there’s an equally important way I’ve been able to pay it forward. It’s illustrated in one of my favorite Chinese proverbs. “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.” I like to say, “Give a woman a basket of food, and feed her for a day. Give a woman a lesson on couponing, and feed her family for a lifetime!” It has been incredible to watch people transform their own lives by implementing the simple principles of couponing. Change is powerful, and it’s happening all over the nation because of coupons! In a very real way, couponing has the power to transform your life too.