In this short video, I (CollegeCouponChick), answer some common coupon questions that people have asked me. Everything from how to use bogo coupons to whether coupon stacking is fraud is included in this video. If you think of a question that I haven’t covered, please comment below and I will try my best to answer them!
You plan your shopping trip, meticulously arrange your coupons, and sketch your rough total of all items. Everything is in your order, and you can’t wait to check out. Then, you get to the cashier who is ringing you out and hand over your nice and neat envelope of legitimate coupons only to be met with rudeness, poor attitude or outright refusal. It can ruin any couponers day. I have a few coupon friends who jokingly say that they want to threaten to “Scan her face!”.
But, if you haven’t learned by now, everyone catches more flies with sugar. This invoked another strategy, one we actually use. It’s called a Come to Jesus. No, we are not going to preach religion at our rude cashier. But you know how there are certain religious people who might knock on your door or approach you in the street that are always nice as can be and absolutely certain they are right? The ones that are so polite in their hurry to get you to come to Jesus? We’re going to use their attitude at couponing. Here are a few rules for dealing with those types of cashiers, and keeping your cool while doing it.
- Always know your coupon policy and keep a printed copy of it. This lets you know for sure YOU are in the right. It also gives you ammunition to “kill” your cashier’s rudeness with a kind, but pointed objection to their accusation that you are attempting to break the coupon policy rules.
- Don’t be afraid to speak up, just speak up nicely. If your cashier is unwilling to view your copy of a coupon policy or look more closely at a coupon that “beeps”, nicely ask to speak with his or her manager regarding the trouble. Sometimes, new style coupons have newer barcodes that are incompatible with older systems. This causes the “beep”. It does not mean your coupon is illegitimate. However, it might make the cashier more receptive if you tried explaining that to the manager as well.
- Keep going up the chain of command if necessary. If the cashier is not cooperative, and neither is their immediate boss, ask to see the store manager. If the store manager is out, or unwilling to help, ask for the number to their corporate offices and call while you’re in the store. Remember to stay polite and smile!
- If all else fails, leave and write a polite letter to the corporate office explaining your situation and problem. Chances are, they won’t want to lose a loyal customer and you’ll (at the very least) be given an apology.
- Don’t forget to smile! Chances are, if you stay polite and open throughout the entire exchange, any issues will be resolved quickly and without fuss. Managers are eager to look competent and welcoming, even if the cashier isn’t.
Now boldly go, and coupon!
Ever wonder what goes on sale and when?? Well, here is a guide to the sales. It is not perfect since every single year is a bit different but it gives you an idea of things to look for and good times to stock up on certain items!
- Side dishes
- Anything for hearty/warm meals
- Post-Holiday Sales
- Sports and Weight Loss Equipment
- Winter Apparel and Accessories
- Organizers, Rubbermaid totes, shelf organizers, planners, filing cabinets
- Floor Coverings
- Candy and Chocolates
MARCH - Frozen food month.
- Spring cleaning deals
- Kraft products
- Paper products
- Beverage items
- Spring Apparel and Accessories
- Winter Sports Equipment
- Gardening Supplies
- Spring Apparel and Accessories
- Jewish Foods and Eggs
- BBQ sauce
- Frozen veggies
- Baked beans
- Condiments of all kinds
- Summer-time meats (i.e.-hotdogs)
- White Sale – Linens and Towels
- Spring Cleaning Supplies
- Auto Maintenance
- Home Maintenance
- Sodas & Bottled Water
- Paper & Plastic plates & cups
- Raid/Off bug repellents and sunscreens
- Summer Apparel and Accessories
- Television Sets
- Building Materials and Hardware
- Dairy Products
- Air Conditioners
- Summer Sports Equipment
- Craft Supplies
- Sodas, Hotdogs, Hamburger Meat, Condiments
- BBQ and Patio Equipment
- Back to School Supplies
- Bathing Suits
- Breakfast foods (Cold cereal-Juice-Waffles-etc)
- Cold lunch items for in lunch boxes
SEPTEMBER – Back to School
- Pudding cups
- Capri suns
- fruit snacks
- peanut butter/jelly
- spaghetti sauce
- Back to School Supplies and Apparel
- Gardening Supplies
- Canned Goods
OCTOBER - Holiday Foods
- Stove Top,
- Instant mashed potatoes
- Ice cream
- pie shells
- whipped cream
- Fishing Equipment
- Baking/candy-making items (choc chips, sprinkles, vanilla, corn syrup, nuts, etc)
- Winter Apparel and Accessories
- Heating Devices
- Sweet Potatoes
- Canned goods (soup, chicken broth, condensed milk, veggies etc)
- Baking goods
- Gift Items
- Party ware
- Post-Holiday Sales
- Party Foods
- Baking Goods
- Canned goods (broth, soups, etc)
Target Holiday Clearance Schedule (most stores are similar)
50% off – usually marked down on the day after the holiday
75% off – usually marked down on the fourth day after the holiday
90% off – usually marked down on the seventh day after the holiday
Rebates are a great way to save money on items that you normally wouldn’t have coupons for, like fresh meat. They’re a little tricky to get started, but once you have the rebate checks continually coming in, it can be a great little moneymaker! Follow these easy tips to get started and stay going!
1. Follow the rules on the rebate. If it says you have to circle or highlight the item purchased on the receipt, be sure to circle or highlight it. They can reject your rebate for that very reason. If it says “one per household”, only submit one. If you have to purchase a certain amount or brand, or shop by a certain date, keep all of that in mind. If you have followed all the rules and they reject it, don’t be afraid to call the company! Often they’ll send your rebate after hearing your (polite) concerns about the issue.
2. Coupons don’t count! Most of the time, you’ll get a rebate for the amount of the product BEFORE the coupons. A great example of this is Proctor&Gamble (P&G) rebate forms. They often have $10 rebates on $30 Olay or Pantene items. You can hit that $30 total BEFORE using your coupons and it is still good to submit for a rebate, even if the price is less than $30 after using your coupons.
3. Keep in mind you will pay more out for the first stage. When you’re first starting to mail off your rebates, you’ll be spending more on stamps (and products) than you think. That’s OK. That money will quickly come back to you. Then, once you get a steady supply of rebates coming in, you can use part of your rebate money for stamps to send out new rebates. It pays for itself AND more. Believe me, it’s worth it. Last week I had a fellow couponer tell me she received $164 in rebates in just 7 days!
4. Rebates are everywhere! You know when you first started couponing and you were amazed at where you could find them? Coupons in the grocers, on the product, off the internet, in gas stations? Oh my goodness, they’re everywhere! Well, rebates are everywhere, too! Anywhere you look for coupons, you should be looking for rebates! Check over new products, especially. They’ll often have “try me free” rebate forms, where you’ll get the FULL purchase price back on the product!
These are just a few of the tips for starting and continuing rebates. With frugal home living and coupons, rebates are the icing on the money saving cake! What rebate tips do you have?
It was March of 2010 when I first saw MrCoupon (Nathan) from WeUseCoupons.com on a Nightline special talking about this “Extreme Couponing” business. I watched that segment 5 or 6 times trying to catch the website address spelled out in Jell-O boxes in the driveway. LOL Once I finally had it, I was off! I lurked and read at WeUseCoupons.com for a month before I finally jumped in and joined the site (it’s FREE, by the way… my favorite price! hehe), there was soooo much information there, I was like a kid in a candy store, reading and absorbing all that I could. The wealth of information that folks share out of the kindness of their hearts is simply astounding. So here I am a little over two years later, saving tons of money (LOL) and now sharing the information I have learned for couponing in Vermont and New England both as a Forum Leader at WeUseCoupons.com, and this Blog, NECS.
In my couponing travels, I not only fell into many of the Newbie Couponing Pitfalls myself, I read about them all the time on the forums. Here are all the things I have experienced / read about that are very common among new couponers and how to avoid them:
1 – I am so overwhelmed! This is too much! I don’t know where to start!
This has got to be the TOP post I see from new couponers. Heck, I’ve been there myself, I know how you feel. But as with learning ANY new skill, learning to coupon takes TIME to perfect. It’s not something that happens overnight. The best advice for newbies is to pick ONE store in your area to concentrate on first, only ONE, learn that store inside and out and get comfortable with couponing in general. I know, I know, there are soooo many great deals out there it’s hard to not want to run out and grab them all! The problem with that arises that you end up spending MORE right off the bat rather than less, and/or you get so burnt out by taking on too much at first that you get overwhelmed and give up. Pick ONE store, grocery, box store, drugstore, it doesn’t matter, once you get comfortable with couponing practices, wording, policies, idiosyncrasies, etc at ONE store, it is much easier to learn others. Just relax, take your time, learn how to coupon correctly and courteously, and you will be couponing like a pro in no time!
2 – Hey wait, I’m spending MORE since I started couponing and I’m blowing my budget… what gives?
As mentioned above, this is a VERY common thing. First off, you are thinking, “I have ALL these coupons, I HAVE to use them!” The main reason seasoned couponers are so successful is because they know how to play the waiting game. Sales and coupons are cyclical, they always come around again. Wait for a sale on the item you have a coupon for, don’t use it when the item is full price, and if there is no deal before the coupon expires, there will be another time, another sale and another coupon, I promise! The other thing I also mentioned above was the desire to run out and grab every deal, this can be a budget blower for sure! Even if the item is free, you have to remember tax, gas, buying coupons or newspapers, ink and paper for printing coupons, fillers, all the things that are just pocket change or dollars, and as we learned from one of the Golden Rules of Couponing, “Those cents and dollars add up!”, well that works in reverse also. Those cents and dollars you are saving are quickly negated when you account for the “cost” of your couponing.
3 – I have all these coupons I’m never going to use, what do I do with them?
First off, let me tell you my perception of “coupons that I would never use in a million years” has changed dramatically since I first started couponing. I was way too eager to get rid of coupons that ended up being freebies or money makers down the road just because I wasn’t patient enough. I now tell all new couponers to hang onto everything they get, with the exception of course being the things you are 100% sure you will not use, for instance: diaper or formula coupons when you don’t have a baby, pet supply coupons when you don’t have any animals, and so on. But if you are only 99.9% sure you will never use it, hang onto it. There are many options to give away or trade coupons you don’t need. Worst case scenario, you don’t use the coupon before it expires, in that case there are wonderful people right at WeUseCoupons.com that take expired coupon donations and send them to US Military bases overseas where they can use them up to 6 months past the expiration date.
4 – I’m finding all these printable coupons online, I’m printing them all, should I?
Yup, been there, done this one too. I printed everything I could get my hands on when I first started and ended up wasting a lot of paper, ink, time clipping, and ended up with a lot of expired printable coupons. I am much more selective about what I print now, the only time I print a coupon for something that isn’t an sale that week is if it is a really hot coupon and quite possibly will be gone if I wait or if it’s an item that I purchase regularly and again, know I will use the coupon. Places like NECS have lots of posts letting fellow couponers know when there is a hot coupon available for print. Over time you will find the balance of what you need to print and what you can pass on.
5 – I only have ”ABC” store and they don’t double or I live in *insert name of really small town here* and am very limited on stores, there is no way couponing will work for me, right?
The answer is yes, it will work for you to both situations. Sure, you won’t get some of the deals you see some other couponers in other areas get, but I know many, MANY couponers that have NO stores that double and/or live in a VERY small town or rural area and they do phenomenal! It all goes back to learning and knowing your stores and putting the time into finding the best deals available to you in your particular area. You can Extreme Coupon pretty much ANYWHERE, except for places that don’t take coupons, of course! LOL I live in a pretty rural area of VT and I still save anywhere from 50% to 85%, sometimes more, on my shopping trips, even at the stores that don’t double.
Earlier this week I wrote to several companies explaining my situation. I’m trying to get healthy, and eat healthier foods. I also write to companies telling them how much I enjoy their products that I tried. They really appreciate hearing the good and bad it seems. I received some great coupons today and it just took moments of my time. The key is to give input, not expect much in return and be thankful with whatever you get
Would you like to Learn More about Contacting Companies? Check out a Video (Here)
Organizing Whole Coupon Inserts
So many of you get coupons each week from our sister site Get Coupon Inserts as a subscription and have asked for some simple ways to organize your whole inserts. So I will share with you the methods that I use. Now remember Sarah did a great video on Binder organization, use what works better for you. Many people use both methods.
So the first part of how I organize is to get a basic 3 ring binder much like the one to the left. I will then get some sheet protectors and print off the previews of the inserts I receive from Coupon Insert Previews . I will take these previews and organize them by week, so that when I look up a coupon in The Coupon Database I can easily flip to that week to see if I have that coupon. You can also either get a larger binder or have a second binder for printable coupons as well.
Now that you have your coupon preview list organized, it is time to organize your inserts. There are 2 methods to do this. One method is very simple and that is just filing your inserts as you get them by date for easy reference. Then you just clip as you need them when you are going shopping. The second method is to cut your coupons in groups, such as a group of 10, staple them and file them in Ziploc bags by the date,. By doing this method you can easily carry 3 months of clipped coupons with you in the car so you can easily grab them if needed.
Cutting Bulk Coupons
Here is a nice video we found that shows you an easy way to cut your whole inserts to file away…