Thursday, February 05, 2009

Coupon Questions

There were a couple of questions in the comments the other day when I shared my cute new coupon box that I wanted to address.

Katie asked:

"...where do you find most of your coupons? Sunday paper/ads? Online? Particular stores? We used to get the Sunday paper, but I really would just take the coupons out and recycle the rest with hardly even reading it. I've tried some online coupon sites, but I find once I subscribe, my email in-box is soon cluttered with spam/junk mail because my email address was given to affiliated sponsors of that site."

Great question!

Here are my favorite sources for coupons:

* Sunday paper: think of it this way - if the paper is $1.50 and even one or two coupons that you use are worth more than that, it is worth it even if you do recycle the rest. One time I bought a paper for a little more than one dollar and one coupon alone was worth $10 that I used!

If your local paper is known for being skimpy on coupons, like ours is, I would suggest trying a different regional paper. Often grocery stores will carry several papers and this would be a great place to find a different one.

One idea if you'd rather not recycle is to use the black and white pages for kindling in your fireplace. I roll several sheets together in a tube and tie with twine so they are like paper "logs" that can be tossed into the fire.

* Online coupons: I go against the grain on this one. We have decided in our home not to download the coupon printer required by many sites to print their coupons. So, if a coupon is offered in PDF format, I can easily print it off - but otherwise I skip internet coupons.

* Vocalpoint: I read about this many times before I finally decided to sign up, but am so glad I did! I am not swamped with e-mails from them - one or two a week is all. But, the coupons are really worth it! Coupons arrive by mail usually with a free sample of the item being advertised. One time it was a Venus Embrace razor! Then in addition to the sample are five high dollar coupons for you to share with friends. When it doesn't arrive with a sample, one of the coupons is usually for a free product for you to try it before you give the coupons out to your friends. I've gotten the razor, toothpaste, Kashi cereal bars, fruit cups, etc... And, it is fun to be able to share great coupons with friends too!

* Store websites: Is there a store you love to shop at? Perhaps they offer a quarterly mailing or magazine that has coupons in it. I like to shop at Publix and they have multiple magazines that include magazines as well as a great Baby Club. Each of these things includes coupons. I would encourage you to visit the website of your favorite store to see what they have to offer.

* E-coupons: These coupons are downloaded onto your shopping card! They can be used in conjuction with mfr. coupons making for some really great deals! The two I've used are P&G and Shortcuts. You simply enter your Kroger (or affiliate) shopping card number and download coupons right to your card.

* All You magazine: This is another one that I read about for a long time before finally trying myself. I ordered mine through something similar to this and have been receiving it for only a few months. So far, I've already made back about half of my first year in subscription fees and it looks like it is really going to be worthwhile. If you'd rather not subscribe, you can purchase single copies at Wal-Mart. NOTE: I'm not a big fan of this magazine and I only purchase it for the coupons. I have found that the ads alone make it a magazine you would not want to leave laying around for young eyes. As with all things, use your own discretion.

As far as online coupon sites - I'm not very familiar with this, but I do have a suggestion and I've read other couponers say this too. Set up a free account on hotmail or gmail that is simply for sites you need to log in to and give an address. All the junk mail ends up in one spot and is not interfering with your home or family messages. Also, when you are signing up - there is often a small box that you can check that says "do not share my information with affiliate sites" ~ I ALWAYS check this box!

Melissa also had a great question:

" do you handle the grocery shopping and coupon saving with three little ones in tow? Where do you keep the coupon box in the cart (assuming that a little person is sitting in the cart)?"

Yes, this is a biggie! I usually have a very specific list planned out before we go and have pulled out the coupons I am planning to use. These are either paper clipped to my list or put in an envelope that has my list written on it. I do take my box along, but more for back up or if I see an unadvertised sale.

We usually have one of a couple of scenarios with the cart. If it is the little-preferred cart, it has a car on the front with two seats and two steering wheels. Emily and Rachel sit here and Samuel sits in his carseat either in the basket or up in the top of the cart. Depending on where he is, my coupon box is in the other spot.

If we are using a cart without the lovely, yet difficult to navigate cart ~ one of the girls walks and the other rides in the basket with the groceries that are not underneath while Samuel is in his carseat in the top part. In this case, my coupon box would either be in the basket or underneath where I can get to it easily.

Where do you find the best coupons? And, how do you manage with small children?


~katie~ said...

Thank you so much for taking the time to thoroughly and creatively answer my question! I was in a bit of a lull with my couponing, and you've given me some great starting places and ideas ~ thank you! It's always such a treat coming out of a store with a receipt where it shows the *savings* from your efforts! :-)

Wendi said...

I find the best coupons from the Sunday paper. If I look through the coupons and find that they are exceptionally good I will buy more then one paper. Our local Dollar Tree carries the paper and I can pick it up for a $1.oo. I find that I make my money back and then some when I do this.

I too find organization the key with shopping with a little. I have my list and pulled coupons ready before I leave the house. I also find that taking snacks along really help!

Creatively Missy said...

Wow, I hadn't realized HOW many places there were for coupons! LoL I will definitely try out a few of those links.

I am thinking of how I want to redesign my coupons. I currently use one of the mini accordion files from the dollar store. Only it's not enough slots to break it down the way I want and also the elastic band to keep it closed stretches out too quickly.

I stopped using the internet coupons you print (like from because the stores here refused to take them, saying they weren't manufacturer coupons.

I am finding out one of the best ways to get high value coupons is to email the companies and compliment them on their products. I send them an email, being detailed about why I like their product. I assume they like to have feedback about their products because every letter back thanked me for letting them know about that product. Coupons are usually included. AND, they have a far off date to them so it's not like you have to rush out to use them.

Love reading your blog!

Elise said...

Great tips, Monica!! I, too, found that All You magazine to be full of great coupons!! I somehow get a local paper free at my house, same as at our other house. I have not been as diligent to use my coupons, but really feel the need to use them lately. I don't how I do it at the store. Probably get a little nutty by the time its all said and done. I think making a detailed list would help. I used to do that along with writing on my list what the coupon amount was, and when I used to shop at multiple stores I would figure out who had what sale and the coupon for that store. Clear as mud??

homeschooldawn said...

Thanks for these tips. I am selective about printing on-line coupons, too and mostly stick to the Sunday paper. Our nearest metro-area paper sells double deals. 2 papers are bundled and sold for just a little more than the cost of a single paper. I am going to look into some of your suggestions.
I also use the grocery game.
It saves me hours of work in matching coupons with sale prices. I get most of my toiletries and cleaning products for 50 cents or less, often for free.

Tracy said...

I have a new appreciation for your the 7 months since Elisabeth has been born I've taken all 3 kids to the store...twice. That's it. And I think I left sweating and crying both times. Now I only take one and it's a special 'treat' for it to be their turn to grocery shop. Because I'm a WIMP. And I don't like crying in the grocery store : )

Mom2fur said...

I love All You magazine. The coupons make it free! But I've never heard of Vocalpoint. Definitely gonna check it out!

LynnMarie said...

I never knew about going to the store's website! Thank you so much for that tid bit. I go shopping with a 3 ring binder. In it are laminated sheets of the food items we get with a check mark next to what we need to buy this time (no paper to use just use a dry erase marker) and then I have some pockets for the coupons. I got some of those pockets that hold photos but use them for the coupons. Easy to see and get to. The dry erase marker I use has an eraser right on the tip so easy to work with. You can also use pocket protectors for the coupons as well. The main thing is to keep it all together. Thanks so much for the extra tips. Great to always learn something!

Anonymous said...

I also take a looksee in the paper recycling dumpster as I dump my own papers in. I have gotten several whole coupon inserts this way. It's still recycling if I can use them!!

Anonymous said...

This "YMMV" movie has great ideas about couponing....

Anonymous said...

Hi Monica,

Great post! I was curious to know why you choose not to download any of the coupon programs. Is it because some stores do not accept internet coupons or for a different reason?


Anonymous said...

My town has a recycling trailer for newspapers, and they don't mind a bit if I go in and dig through to find coupons that others have tossed (then I can bring back the remains when I bring my papers next time). A friend in a nearby town goes for an early walk on trash day and snags her neighbors' coupons out of the recycling bins. It's amazing how many people just toss their coupon inserts without even looking at them. :)

Mary Ann said...

I have great success with buying the Sunday paper. I buy 3 at $1 each and my friend gives me the inserts from hers.Of course, some weeks the coupons are more useful than others but I still use plenty of them, especially when triple coupons come around!

I used to think I was wasting money by buying the paper for coupons until Andy pointed out that I easily made my $3 back.

I really haven't had that much success with internet coupons. Several local stores won't accept them and I generally find them to be more trouble to print out than they're worth. I do use a few good ones when I see them, though.

Anonymous said...

I also get the Sunday newspaper primarily for the coupons, and I don't read a lot of it. But I live near a nursing home, so I drop the paper off there on my way to work, and they always appreciate being able to give it to a resident who can't afford a subscription.

Unknown said...

Very good tips! Thanks! :)

Saph said...

I get the sunday paper, use all available internet coupons and all the sites you mentioned, plus I use a clipping service to get the coupons I know I can use multiples of:

Anonymous said...

I've found that getting two copies of a bigger-city newspaper has really paid off. I've seen a huge difference between the coupons found in the larger papers and those found in our local paper (Buy One Get One Free in the big one vs. $1 off in the local one - on the same product).

I'm fortunate that the two stores that I do most of my shopping in do accept all printable coupons. So I do print the ones that I've found online. I purchased a very inexpensive black and white laser printer though. The ink jets are too expensive to operate.

Monica Wilkinson said...

The main reason we don't use internet coupons is that neither my husband or myself really "trust" the coupon printer idea. Are they downloading other stuff on there - are they watching what sites we go to? Is there more to it? It just doesn't feel worth it to us especially in light of stores being more cautious about accepting internet coupons.

All that to say - we are very hesitant to download ANYTHING on our computers and this is just one of those things we choose not to do.

Me said...

Hi Monica and others :)

My husband and I have pretty much stopped using coupons, as they are generally for the more expensive brands. We tend to save more by buying generic or store brands and shopping Costco. (I did sign up on Vocal Point, however.) Does anyone else find this to be true?

Tracy, I can relate to you. When my children were young, I would take all three of them along every time. My husband worked two jobs, and there was no one else to watch them. It was a task to say the least. We would go, with our coupons and well-made-out list, to between three and five stores each time. I also had the prices written down and which store had the best deal on what I was looking for. It was an all-day project, but it did save us money.

Pussecat said...

A couple of other places to get coupons, that I didn't see listed are at Dentist and Doctor's offices! I have received several GREAT coupons simply by asking when I go. So the next time you're in a Dentist or Doctor's office ask if they have any coupons to share! hths :)

Emily's Family said...

Great job , I really like your page!!

Joy said...

Hi!! I'm a Carolina gal, too ~ and really enjoy your blog. Just wanted to let you know that I've linked to this post from my blog ... you give some great info here about couponing. Thanks! :)