Thursday, November 18, 2010

Couponing for Dummies (Or, A Dummy Learns to Coupon)

So I'm totally and utterly intrigued by this whole "couponing" business.  I have seen people doing it (in fact, my sister-in-law is a champ at it), but up 'til now I was clueless about how it worked.  I've done some research in the last week or so, and I think I'm starting to get it now.  So I am going to give it a (very slow) try...

As I understand it, the first step is to start collecting Sunday newspaper coupon inserts.  And from what I've read, it takes a goodly while to gather enough inserts to have them on-hand to match up to the grocery deals in the stores.  Couponing websites have their own lingo, much like anything else, so at first it made no sense to me, but I have self-educated enough to learn that there are basically two or three types of "inserts" in the Sunday paper: "Red Plum" inserts and "Smart Source" inserts.  And occasionally there will also be Proctor & Gamble inserts.

So you start by getting several of these inserts each Sunday, and then you just WAIT.  Don't clip them, just keep them intact and write the date on the front, then throw them in a stack and WAIT.  Next Sunday, get more inserts and WAIT SOME MORE.  Keep doing this every Sunday.

About 4 weeks later, the products from your very first Sunday inserts will go on sale.  This is when you get to do the fun part (I think....).  You go on a couponing website (there are billions but Jenny pointed me to and I like it) and find a list of "matchups" for your local grocery store.  Mine is Harris Teeter.

And this is the part I haven't yet mastered.  Somehow you make a list of the "deals" you want to get, and you find your coupon inserts that match up to the sale items.  Result?  You end up getting things for stupidly cheap amounts, or for free.

I see both pros and cons to the whole shebang.

- Free stuff.  Hello, who doesn't like free stuff?
- Feeling of accomplishment at obtaining a good deal
- Lower grocery budget
- Stocked pantry
- Not having to pay exorbitant amounts for an ingredient at the last minute

- Requires some planning and organization
- Could easily get VERY overwhelming
- You sometimes end up getting random products that you wouldn't normally use
- Could also get VERY time consuming

So, in order to maximize the pros and avoid the cons, we are going to start very, very slowly.  Goal number one?  I am going to buy two Sunday papers this weekend and save the inserts.  I probably won't use any of the coupons until late December or maybe even January.  For now, I'm just going to start collecting coupons.  If I do a couple of "deals" and they work well, I'll keep going.  If it feels like an incredible burden, I'm going to let the dogs use the papers for what they do best, and I'll just keep grocery shopping like I normally do.

But I sort of think I might really enjoy it once I get the hang of it.  Something about it appeals to the Organizer in me.  I am getting a craving to buy file folders and a Trapper Keeper already.....

(Of course, the couponer's ultimate dream day is Black Friday, but I'm still too scared to venture to any retail establishment that day.  Too afraid of getting trampled.  Give me time, I'll get there.)

(What? You came for the baby picture?  Okay, okay, I hate to disappoint....)

Mom, I'm fine with you dressing me up, but these midday photo shoots are too bright for my delicate little eyes.  I'm going to get wrinkles from squinting..... 


Erica said...

do the inserts come in papers you buy at the store?

whatsthedeal said...

I hope so! I suppose I'll check before I buy them.... Maybe I will just subscribe to the Sunday paper....

The Mulvihills said...

You're on the right track, Heather!! By the way, this week is a really, really good week at Target. You can print the coupons off the internet without a sunday paper. Look on Hip2Save for this week's deals!!!

Mom said...

I just learned how to download coupons unto my Kroger Plus card on Then when I go to my local Kroger, check out with my Plus card, the coupon is already on my card. Downside is when I am at the store, I don't remember which coupons I "loaded" onto my card. ha ha
Just tryng to save is challenging. I think I'll go back to cutting coupons from the paper as you suggest Heather.
Love you.