Thursday, January 13, 2011

How to Save with Coupons

I am a strong believer in time. I don’t have time to waste, and I don’t like spending too much time on coupons and deals. Faster is better for me, because the laundry needs done, the kids are whinning to go outside, and I am generally answering the phone or the door.

Let’s face it Mom’s time is VALUABLE! I want to save money, and I do with coupons, but not my time. I used to spend too much time on it, and then it became a chore like laundry or dishes. I hate both of those chores, and I don’t need another one on my list of Motherly duties.

So I have devised a system that helps me save green and time!

Sunday Paper Coupon Inserts- Most Sundays you will find some coupons inserts in the Sunday paper. I don’t clip them. I pull out the insert and write the date on top of it with a marker. Now I know what paper those inserts came out of. Most sites like mine that list deals tell you what to buy, where to buy it and what coupon to use.

If the coupon is printable they give you link to click on, if it is a coupon from a Sunday paper they tell you what date. I only buy one paper, but if some of my relatives and friends sometimes give me a extra insert here or there. You can buy more papers but becareful that you can justify the cost in your savings. Sometimes when I drop off my papers to the local recycle bin there are tons of Sunday papers right on top and I can snag about 10 more inserts! The Dollar Tree has papers for only $1 in some locations, or check to see if your newspaper company has a deal for just Sunday paper delivery that would be cheaper.

Coupon Binder-I used to carry a huge coupon binder and honestly it was cumbersome and time consuming. My three year old, kept getting into it, and there was always a dilemma of who gets the front seat of the shopping cart the three year old that touches EVERYTHING, or the coupon binder! So I gave it up. Now I only have a small little coupon holder that fits right into my purse. I keep all coupons that I get in mail, off of a product, or a printable in there.

Store Sales Ads -Once a week I go check out the Sales for each store that I shop. If I can get it for Free or nearly free and we use that item, I get it. Like toothpaste that is on sale this week at one of the grocery stores I shop at. I have toothpaste already at home but it is on sale, we use toothpaste and it won’t go to waste. It is on sale for $1 and I have a $.50 off coupon which my store doubles to $1, and that my friend equals free!

There are several different types of inserts in the paper, and if you look closely at the top of the insert it might say Smartsource in the coupon world that is abbreviated to SS, or it could be Red Plum which is abbreviated to RP, or Proctor & Gamble that is PG or P&G. There are sometimes others but you get the idea. So if you see 1-9-11 SS you know it came from the January 9, 2011 paper and it is a Smartsource insert.

I post all the deals I see that I like or are worth driving to the store for. Like the toothpaste that is on sale I post like this:

Colgate Toothpaste $1 -That is the cost
Use $1/1 from 1-9-11 SS that is the date of the coupon insert where you will find the coupon
Free after coupon! This tells you how much you will pay and that the cost is after the coupon.

Coupon Database- There are tons of coupon databases out there that will help you find the coupon you are looking for. Coupon data bases are a good tool, typically you type in the product name and then the database does a search for any coupon listed for that product and gives you a list of how to find it like the date of the insert or the link to a printable coupon. This is a really useful tool.
FIFO Method- First Out, First Out- If you want to start a small stock pile of food and household items this is KEY! It is important to rotate your stock or you will lose money because what you buy will go to waste! So my new tube of toothpaste goes on the back of the shelf behind all the other toothpaste I have already.

Stockpiles- Your stockpile will grow gradually. Then you will notice that sometimes you don’t even need to bother with shopping at all unless the deal is just too good to pass up. Don’t get addicted this is only for the sole purpose of saving your family money. You won’t have to spend money each week on soap, food, and other items. Then you can use that money to pay off debts, start saving and as Dave Ramsey says, “Live like no one else!” Like going on vacations debt free!

Your stockpile is also good for emergencies. Being prepared is always a good idea. When food prices start to raise you won’t have to pay the increased shelf price. When you are snowed in or any other emergency your family will have food to eat. The bigger your stockpile the longer you eat.

You can also use your stock pile to make a nice gift or care package for someone. My daughter shopped my stockpile as a free store every time she came home from college. How nice it was for me to be able to provide her will all the things she needed for college, oh and do her laundry!

Laundry Soap- Speaking of Laundry, I would like to share with you that the number one way I save money for my family is by making my own laundry soap. Again you may scoff and think who has time for that. Remember I too am a REAL MOM, with no real extra time. This takes about as much time as making macaroni and cheese from a box and you have time. This saves me tons and tons of money each month. I used to spend about $350 dollars each year on laundry soap alone. Now it is about $14.00. That is HUGE!

Stores that I save at-Typically I only save in two places, grocery stores and Walgreens. Here and there I may go to one of the office stores, Target or Walmart or a department store like JC Penney or Kolhs. But I have to tell you that the grocery stores and Walgreens are where my greatest deals happen.

Grocery Stores- Find out when your grocery store comes out with its new ad each week, or how the sales run. The day of the new ad or sometimes you can get it early that is when you sit down with the ad, your coupons and the computer. If you want to search for the coupons yourself you can use a coupon data base to help make this faster. Type in the products that are on sale and see if there is a coupon out there that can make that sale item a freebie or close to it, then locate the coupon and make a list at the same time, what you are getting how many and your coupon. Then you have a shopping list, coupons ready so you can head to the store anytime this week to get your deals. If you check a site like mine see what is a good deal and make your list with your coupons. Since you have your list and your coupons all together you will save time. Now when you run past the store while coming home from work or being a mom taxi you will be ready to get your deals, this also comes in handy when your child is driving you crazy with a random meltdown your list and coupons are all ready and you don’t have to think. It is really hard to think when a two year old is screaming, I don’t know why.

Some stores double coupons up to a $1, and some let you stack manufacturer coupons with store coupons to get a better deal. Typically your store will have a coupon policy so familiarize yourself with it. If I don’t post the deals for your grocery store, we can probably find someone who does.

Walgreens-Their new sales start every Sunday. Most sites will have the deals posted on Sunday. Some sites like have them weeks in advance, but sometimes not the coupons that go with it. I post Walgreens deals every Sunday because I love the deals there.
Walgreens has something called Register Rewards or RR’s abbreviated. Register Rewards print out after your transaction is complete and state that they are for your next purchase at Walgreens. Let’s say Colgate Toothpaste is on sale for $1 and you get $1 in RR’s (Register Rewards) if you buy that item. That makes it free! So I will post a deal like this:

Colgate Toothpaste $1 That is the cost or sale price
Get $1 RR’s that means you get one dollar in Register Rewards
FREE after RR’s! that is the finial cost after RR’s

Now you can use that $1 in Register Rewards to buy another item at Walgreens, I typically use it right away but they typically expire in one week.
Rolling Register Rewards are rare but sometimes they do happen. What that means is typically you cannot use that $1 Register Reward to buy another Colgate and get another $1 Register Reward. Most of the bloggers out there will get excited and let you know that the Colgate Register Rewards are Rolling if they do.

But you can use it to get another deal. What if Carmex lip balm was on sale for a $1 too and gets a $1 RR’s reward? Then I would go get three Colgate toothpastes, and three Carmex take it to the register at Walgreens, (I typically go to the cosmetics counter it never holds up the main line that way.) Place one Colgate on the counter and then when that transaction is complete the cashier gives me my Register Reward for $1 and I place on Carmex on the counter and pay for it with my $1 Register Reward from the Colgate toothpaste. The cashier gives me a $1 Register Reward for buying the Carmex and I use that in the next transaction to buy another Colgate toothpaste…and so on and so on. Now I have paid one dollar OOP (Out of pocket) for 3 tubes of toothpaste and 3 containers of lipbalm. That is $.17 each! Now you are saving!
Money Makers-This is when they pay you to buy something. Nope I am not kidding it happens all the time. I love it when this happens and you will too. Let’s still use our Colgate toothpaste example.

Colgate toothpaste is on sale for $1
Get a $1 RR’s wyb (when you buy) it.
Use a $1/1 coupon from the 1-9-11 SS
FREE PLUS $1 Money Maker!

How does the register ring that up? It doesn’t that is when you need a filler item or another item that will cost $1 because even though it is a money maker the cashier will not hand you a $1 for stopping in!
So in the same transaction you can buy the Carmex to get that RR’s. Don’t try to buy two Colgate toothpastes because it will only give you one $1 RR at the end when it is the same product from the same manufacturer. You can get two different Register Rewards from two different manufacturers in the same transaction. It gets confusing though so I would just do one RR’s at a time, and use the extra dollar to buy something else that you need or want. We call those fillers.

This Money Maker can get even better too, because at Walgreens you can stack a store coupon with a manufacturer coupon and get Register Rewards too! Each month Walgreens puts out a little coupon book that has all of their in store coupons in it. So what if there was a coupon for Colgate in that book that we could use with our sale? It would look like this:

Colgate toothpaste $1
Get $1 RR’s
Use $1/1 from 1-9-11 SS
AND Use $1/1 from Walgreens Jan coupon book
FREE PLUS $2 Money Maker after both coupons and RR’s

I use all my extra Register Rewards to get things I need like toilet paper or something fun for my self. I live far away from Walgreens so I spend any Register Rewards that I have that day. This also saves time too, because I never have to remember to come back to Walgreens within the next week. One trip for me, I don’t have time to keep running back and forth, and then I have to figure the cost of my gas into my freebie. If I have to drive 20 minutes to get my $1 free toothpaste and that is all I can get on that trip well it is not worth it.

I don’t use CVS for personal reasons. I have a policy of not getting treated badly by someone if I can avoid it. I am a happy person and I use the policy of “More flies with Honey”, like my mama taught me, and “What comes around goes around.” I know people can have a bad days so I give stores more than one chance before I cut them off. CVS got over 9 chances, in different stores, and in three different states. Two calls to customer service, one talk with a store manager and all that was over just regular everyday transactions NO COUPONS involved! They have good deals too, but I won’t post them, you can get them from someone else, sorry.

That reminds me I was behind someone in the store once that was there to get deals just like I was, but they were not trying to do it the legal, moral or right way and they were rude. My deals are honest and I won’t try to rip anyone off, and I will walk right up the cashier with a smile on my face and friendly words flying right out of my mouth. If my Free $1 toothpaste deal does not ring up right guess what I shrug my shoulders and say oh well, after all it was gonna be FREE! Why get upset over something that is NOTHING! Like mama always said, “More flies with honey…” !

If you have more ways to save with coupons that make it fast, painless and easy let me know!


  1. I hate wasting my time too . . . that's why I'm stopping by your blog every Sunday now to see what the Walgreen's deals are. That has been so helpful! I've always thought those coupon binders seemed so big to take along to the store too. I like my purse size coupon wallet and have used it for years. It's been the best system for me.

  2. Me too Bev! My purse gets heavy already with all the junk that collects in there. The less I have to carry around the better, I will keep my purse sized coupon holder too.

    I am glad you stop over here before you go shopping at Walgreens, I am happy to help you save!


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