I recently took a giant leap into the highly intricate world of couponing. At first I was completely lost, and I had no idea what I was getting myself into. But soon, I learned and figured things out for myself. However, I made some mistakes along the way (how else would I have learned). The purpose for creating this blog is to help beginners and make couponing much simpler and less time consuming.
I've also created this blog specific to South Florida. Now, that does not mean you cannot utilize it if you live elsewhere. Simply, I live in S. Florida and found most couponing sites and blogs were not tailored to S. Florida stores and prices. The prices in South Florida are higher; more than once I've found myself looking for an item that I was told would be free (from friends in the Midwest), only to find out that it is $2 or $3 here which makes a world of difference when couponing and buying in bulk.
The most important thing to couponing is getting coupons! There are three main sources: the Sunday paper, online coupons, and clipping services.
First, let's discuss the coupons that come in the Sunday paper. Personally, I do not buy a Sunday paper. But I still get a free copy of SunSentinel's "Deals Delivered" with coupons every Sunday morning. If you already get the paper because you like to read it, that is one thing. But you don't have to buy it if all you want is the coupons. What I do, and what I suggest for everyone else is to ask around for the coupon inserts. Ask your neighbors, friends and family if you can have their coupon inserts if they don't use them (most inserts end up in the trash!). I try to get 4-5 copies of the coupons each weekend. This way when there is a really good deal going on, you have 5 coupons and can buy 5 of the items!
Now if you cannot find anyone to give you their coupon inserts, then I do suggest you buy the Sunday paper. In the end spending $7.50 for 5 papers is still more than worth it. On the other hand, there is always dumpster diving, but personally I'd prefer to spend the few bucks and stay clean.
There are two regular inserts that you will see. One is called SmartSource and the other Red Plum. SmartSource comes almost every week (not on holiday weekends though). Red Plum comes on a less regular schedule, but you will still see them a couple times a month or so. Also, once in a while (about once every 4-5 weeks) there will be a Proctor and Gamble insert. Occasionally, you may see two Red Plum or SmartSource inserts. It is important to know the difference because often times people (like myself) will reference a coupon by telling you about a great deal on mouthwash in the "Red Plum 5/22." Also note, often the names will be abbreviated as RP (Red Plum), SS (Smart Source) and P&G (Proctor and Gamble).
So now that you have your inserts, what do you do with them? Take a big sharpie and on the front of the insert (be sure not to obscure a coupon!), write the date of the paper in which it came. So, for the inserts that came in the May 22 paper, I have a big "5/22" written across my inserts. This will help you quickly find the correct insert while looking for your coupons.
Then, get some sheet protectors. Put all the SmartSource inserts for the day in one protector and all the Red Plum inserts in another protector. Then put the protectors in a 3 ring binder. This will effectively begin your coupon binder! Each week add your new inserts and be sure to keep them in chronological order to make it easier to search through your book.
Why do that? Shouldn't I just cut all the coupons out? NO! That is precisely what I thought when I began. There I was, sitting for hours going through all the coupons, cutting them out and organizing them. It is a waste of time. Plus, it is really easy to loose coupons when you have hundreds of tiny pieces of paper lying around. The key is only cutting the coupon out right before you're going to use it. This way you only cut out what you know you are going to use, thus saving you a lot of time.
Also, I like to keep a coupon inventory in the front of my binder, so I can easily look down the list and know what coupons are in each insert. I will post each week's inventory so you guys can use it for reference if you wish.
This is the first step to saving thousands of dollars with the world of coupons. It only takes 5-10 minutes to get the inserts, write the date on it, and place it in your binder.
Stay tuned... next time I will be posting about the online coupons and clipping services.