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Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Organization!


When couponing, organizing is key!


http://makingcentstogether.wordpress.com/category/couponing-101/organizing-your-coupons/


There are many systems and everyone's minds work in different ways. Some can control an organized mess and know where everything is even though they are everywhere. It is your own system so try different methods until you are comfortable with your own.

Baseball card sleeves

Some couponers like to use baseball sleeves for those loose coupons. Sometime you are forced to cut Qs and they become loose. Using the sleeves you can organize the loose coupons in order by name brand, department or store. The options are endless but try to stick to a certain system so it doesn't get too confusing. The idea is to get to a coupon fast without the hassle of the search.

Organize by Insert

Often you will see some people ask on Instagram or FB "what insert?". What this means is every week inserts of coupons are included in bags, newspapers or where ever you can find qs. They are dated on these inserts so to make it easier to look for a particular coupon they ask for the insert. There are 3 major companies that do the inserts: SmartSource (SS), RedPlum (RP), and Procter and Gamble(P&G). P&G usually comes out once a month. SS are weekly except the weeks that P&G comes out, RP can be found in neighborhood bags and newspapers. This past 1/5/2014 there were 5 inserts, 3 SS and 2 RP. Insert dates are usually the Sunday dates since the usually come out with the Sunday paper.

I organize my inserts by date and company. I will put them into a file folder (manila) or hanging folder and label them SS or RP and the date. This allows me to look and pick them out. If I have time, I will also create spreadsheets that list brand name, item, amount on q, and expiration date. This way instead of looking through the insert every time I'm looking for something I can just glance at the front. I can also cross out those expired coupons and see if I can through the whole insert away.

Coupon Accordion Files

Target THE SPOT (the dollar deal section) often sells coupon accordion files. They are plastic and are travel size. They have dividers and tabs that can be labeled. People have used these to organize deals, keep CVS cards separated with ECBs, extra Target GCs (gift cards) and specific store coupons. They also separate by department within stores (housewares, clothes, medicine). These are great when you run into that unexpected sale.These are for your trips out and about.

TIPS:

For the beginner I suggest not to overwhelm yourself by cutting and printing every coupon you see. Many websites have coupon databases so you can always look for specific coupons that coordinate with certain deals. RedPlum and SS have databases also online to print coupons. Not all coupons are available all the time but a lot are.

I would also make lists of what deal your are going for. Many prices that are listed by couponers in different regions are not always the price we have here in Columbus, so be prepared for price differences. It may mean you may have to pay a little more and that's when you decide if its worth it.Sometimes its not worth the extra money to pay out so just let it go. There's always the next big deal around the corner. With lists you are in and out and on to the next. Try not to linger and stay focus. I am guilty of walking away because of all the sales going on and checking prices for deals not listed. Its good but sometimes you find yourself walking around the store in circles! lol

Write down the price that the deal lists so you can compare and look for it. Deals aren't always advertised at all the stores. It may be marked at some and not at others. If you see it in the ad, do price checks. Carry flyers and ads with you to verify prices because you may need them to modify to the advertisement price. Make sure it is the correct item. Write down the original price, the sale price, subtract the discounts and qs you will use and get an idea of how much you are supposed to pay. Keep in mind sales tax because that always throws me off. If you have the price of the item, it is always easier to look for the item by price to the item instead of scanning the shelves for the item itself.


 I carry a tote just for my coupons. I organize my personal stash in my bag in envelopes by store in preparation for visits. I haven't went out to get my coupon filer at Target yet. I also sort the envelopes by departments or items. Oral care, shampoo, soap, laundry... it's a mess of organization but it works for me. Sometimes I am in a frenzy looking for qs that seem to be everywhere from my wallet, side pockets, jacket pockets, all over my car and in my office. I admit to losing them when I need them but that just teaches me that I have to take time and reorganize the ones I didn't use on my trips and put them away.

Hope this  help you get on your way to couponing! Let me know if you have any questions or suggestions!

- Bay N


Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Stores, Rewards & Rules

The number 1 piece of advice that I got from my couponing teacher is keep the coupon policies to every store bookmarked on your phone. Read and study each store especially the ones you visit often. The reason is you will get the one cashier that doesn't know the rules or the manager that thinks they know but doesn't know. It becomes hard to keep your cool but again and again I've been told if you build good relationships with the cashiers and managers, they are easier and nicer the more you go.

It is very hard to keep your cool because for us, there is prejudice and judgement. They are afraid to take coupons because they don't want to be responsible if there is something wrong, Understood, so be polite and kind to those that accept and help us. Stay calm because more than likely you will go to that store again. If need be, pull up the policy and show them that you are aware and knowledgeable. More than many times I will remember the ones that are not willing to help me and those that are patient with me. You become known as a couponer but don't let me prejudge you or make you feel as if you are doing anything wrong. Couponing is a way of life and all you need is a little confidence. If the deal doesn't work, don't be afraid to walk away and say "nevermind. I don't want it." Don't over pay because it is your money and you never want to overspend.

Each store has its own rewards program. They offer rewards in different ways, but the concept is mostly the same. To keep you coming back to their store. Sometimes there are glitches in which you get to make money. Those are also known as RUN DEALS as in you better run and get it while its there before they end it or its gone! I am not a usual runner as I am afraid of not getting the deal. But its a rush and people love their deals. If you follow Tina with www.freestufffinder.com on instagram and a few other people they will post up the deal and mark it RUN!

CVS pharmacy

CVS has its ExtraCare Rewards Program . They reward ECB or Extra Care Bucks back on certain purchases. You have to sign up with a card. You can sign up for multiple cards but only the ECB issued to that card can be used with transactions only with that card. What that means is, if you have card #1 and you get ECBs back, you cannot use those with a transaction with card #2. It can only be used with another future transaction with card #1. Sometimes they are limited to a certain number of rewards to be received with each card. This is why people use multiple cards. They use coupon sorters to sort cards and the coordinating ecb coupons with those cards.

In each CVS store there is a red coupon machine. Here is where you scan your card and receive additional coupons from CVS. This is sometimes based on how you shop. They often print coupons that state offers like "$4 off $10 worth of mouthwash, toothpaste or oral care". If there is a deal and you have a MQ (see previous post regarding term), and there is a sale for this item. If you meet the requirements, you can use the CVS print Q, the sale, and the MQ to get a great deal. Sometimes you can make money if the ECB you get back with your transaction is more than what you pay! That's stacking! You literally stack coupons on top of coupons. Most CVS stores in Columbus also take expired coupons. I have tried it and it works, not by accident. Keep in mind you can roll ECBs toward another transaction with no limitations and earn more ECBs. Read more on the link ExtraCare Rewards Program.

  • Stack IP store coupons
  • Store deals
  • MQ
  • CVS coupons from your receipts
  • Coupon machines print coupons
  • ECB
  • Limited transactions / card

Walgreens or WAGS

Wags has 2 rewards programs. You sign up for their Balance reward card but it works for both programs. One is called Registered Rewards. This basically issues a Catilina type coupon from the register once you meet its requirements. Sometimes the sale will say "$2 in Registered Rewards with purchase of 2" so you will not get the reward if you buy only 1. The thing to keep in mind is there are no limits to how many rewards you get, but you can only get 1 reward per transaction. So if it is $2 for every 2, you will need to do 2 transactions to get 2 rewards for 4 items. Now that you know you will get $2 back you can use MQ to save more. Sometimes the RR are the money you make back and sometimes it makes your item free. Another thing to keep in mind about RR is that if a manufacturer issues you that RR, you cannot roll it or use it toward a transaction for items manufactured by that same company that earns additional RR. For example, Procter & Gamble or better known in the coupon world as P&G manufactures Pantene, Herbal Essence, Revlon, Venus, Swifter and so on. If you claim a deal with your Swifter and receive a RR that says "thank you from P&G" then you cannot use it toward Pantene and earn more RR. But you can use it for other products that earn RR as long as they are not the same manufacturer. It's confusing but you will get it the first time you miscalculate. We have all been there.


The second reward program is called Balance Rewards. This will be marked as so, different from RR. Basically this is a collection of points. You only collect points when requirements are met and it says they are offering Balance Pts. The more points you collect the more money its worth. See chart above. Sometime when you consider how much the points are worth, then stacking a MQ on top, you can either get it for free or make money. You can earn all you BP in one transaction unlike the RR, you do not have to do multiple transactions since there is nothing to print out. If you have pts on your card, you can redeem pts at the register when purchasing items. Couponers like to collect as many as they can to redeem on a good sale day for P&G deals for TIDE or DOWNY. These are the times you can really get the high quality detergent or products for free. *** DO NOT USE POINTS IF YOU ARE TRYING TO EARN PTS! ***  The number one mistake I always make is using points on a transaction where I am supposed to earn pts. They will not give you pts when you use pts. If you plan on using pts, put those items in a seperate transaction as the products in which you earn pts.

Walgreens have in-store coupons availabe to stack with MQ. They are called IVC or instant value coupons. These can be found in booklets that are good for the month (watch for end dates because they sometime end before the month does) or in the weekly ad that is good for the week. Dates are located on the ads so you can plan out trips to the store. These can be stacked on top of MQ and sales to receive back RR or BP. If you stack coupons and you have more coupons than items purchased, you have to buy what they call fillers. Fillers are small priced items to allow you to use your coupons. If you use an IVC and a MQ on one item, it is fine for the price but you must purchase another item for the register to accept the coupon or it will not take off the MQ amount. Sometime if you use so many coupons and there is money owed to you because of your coupons, they can either adjust the coupon to cover only up to the amount of your total or you can buy a filler and the money can be used toward your filler. These fillers can be found close to the registers.

I have also heard that Wags gives military discount yet I keep forgetting to ask every time I go!

  • 2 Reward programs
  • No limits of claiming deals within transactions
  • Military discounts
  • Stack in store IVC & MQ with current weekly deals
  • Weekly IVC deal in flyer and Monthly IVC deal booklet
  • Redeemable pts system and RR

Kroger Giant Eagle both double coupons up to $1 in Columbus, OH. This is only in our region as I learn they do not do so in California so do your math when looking up deals! What that means is on top of the sales that they have, you can use a coupons under a $1 and they will double the value. For instance, a MQ for $0.75 is doubled to $1.50 off item. They do not double any coupon $1 or more, or if the coupon states "Do Not Double". Kroger will accept up to 5 like coupons in one transaction. Giant Eagle will accept 12 like coupons in one transaction. When I am at Giant Eagle, I like to self scan. The Self Scan will accept 5 coupons without getting stuck and calling a Cashier. You can sometime ask the Cashier to release your machine to be able to scan more coupons. If you have more, you can go in the regular line and they will be more than happy to accept 12. They will count. When I say like coupons, I mean the same coupon. You can only use 1 coupon per item so the registers will count and prompt if you have more coupons than items. I have heard cases where if you are owed money, Krogers will give you cash back. I have yet to experience this moment!

Kroger often has a deal that gives back instant $5 when you buy 5 items on the list. This includes items through out the store so you are not limited to buy 5 of the same item so  you can spread through out the store. I like to buy the cheapest item, buy 5 and get the instant $5 plus use MQ on top to get items sometimes free. Plus when the coupon doubles its a great deal.

  • Doubles coupons
  • Kroger has instant deals (get $5 back when you buy 5 items, mix & match) 
  • Kroger takes 5 like qs / GE takes 12 like qs

Walmart has great sales to use with MQ but they do not double so keep that in mind. They do allow overage and I use this toward other items that I buy. These deals are also known as MONEY MAKERS or MM.

  • Overage
  • MM
  • No limit on coupons (I've used 20+ in one transaction with overage before)

Target stores are also a great store to stack at. You are able to sign up for mobile coupons that are usually high in value. They come in text form to be opened in a mobile browser so prepare of additional texting charges. In addition, they have a mobile ap called Target Cartwheel. You can ad deals which are usually a percentage off of a certain product or name. It can sometimes be general like 30% Women's Clothing or 5% off Angel Soft Toilet paper. In addition to these, you can print IP Target coupons and use MQs on top.If you have a Target credit card also known as the REDcard, you can get an additional 5% off. You can also apply to connect your bank card to the REDcard to get the discount without having another credit card. I've also heard if you use a green bag (not just Target green bags) you can get an additional 5% off also. So stack stack stack! I've done this and if the deal is right you can end up with free items! But don't forget to pull out your phone, connect to the wifi and have the cashier scan the bar codes off all your aps. Some sales and deals give back instant gift cards. Stack these on top to count your savings. It's always a good idea to keep them in your wallet to roll on deals giving out additional gift cards.

  • Cartwheel Mobile Ap
  • Target Mobile Coupon
  • Target IP Coupon
  •  MQ
  • REDcard
  • Green bags
  • Gift card savings /deals

Since there are no longer any Rite Aides in Columbus I will not discuss their rewards program. To be honest, I wish there were some here because they seem to have the best sales on items like Pantene  & Tide.

Any questions ASK!! Hope it helps you understand some!

-Bay N

Coupon Terminology and Basics

Here is a great list of couponing terminology I got from www.couponing101.com.

BLINKIES = In-store coupons near product, usually from a red blinking box.
BOGO or B1G1F or B1G1 Free = Buy One Get One Free.
CAT or CATALINA = Coupon that prints at the register after purchase.
CRT = Cash register tape, coupon that prints in store.
DOUBLE COUPON = Coupon that a grocery store doubles in value. ECB = CVS Extra Care Bucks earned for purchases. FREE ITEM COUPON = A coupon that allows you to get the product completely free. IVC = Walgreen’s Instant Value Coupon ( Found in the monthy EasySaver Catalog ). IP = Internet Printable Coupon.
MQ = Manufacturer’s Coupon.
MIR = Mail In Rebate.
NED = No expiration date.
OOP = Out of Pocket, in reference to how much “real money” you will pay at the register.
OYNO = On your next order.
P&G = Proctor & Gamble Coupon Insert found in the Sunday newspaper.
PEELIE = Coupon that you peel off the package.
PSA = Prices Starting At.
Q = Coupon.
RP = Red Plum Coupon Insert found in the Sunday newspaper.  
RR = Register Rewards (Walgreens)  
SS = Smart Source coupon insert found in the Sunday newspaper. STACKING = Using a store specific coupon with a manufacturer coupon (most stores allow this).
TEARPAD = A pad of refund forms or coupons found hanging from a store shelf or display.
TRIPLE COUPON = A coupon that a grocery store triples in value. ( I haven't seen this yet!)
WYB = When You Buy.
YMMV = Your Mileage May Vary (success of the attempt may vary at your store)


Confusing yet? Just wait til the rules come in.

I few more that I've seen is as follows:

WAGS = Walgreens
Target Q = Target only coupon that you can stack with MQ
ISO = In search of
UTF = Up for trade
Balance Pts = Pts rewards at Walgreens

When you see a dollar amount a forward slash then a number this means the dollar amount of the coupon off of number of items per coupon. For example: ($3/2) means $3 off of 2 items.

You can also get coupons directly from manufacturers either through mail or IP. Sometimes they offer deals through facebook or twitter so I suggest following your favorite companies for the items you love to use. You can get access before others that don't follow and print high value coupons. Sometimes companies only allow a certain number of prints or coupons before the close the link. Some companies want you to sign up for their newsletter or give an email. I suggest creating an email just for coupons and using this email for websites to those companies as users. That way you are not bombed with junk mail. You can use this email for your freebies also.

Remember when printing internet coupons, you will usually have to install java and script aps. These are applications used to print your coupons. I have them downloaded on all my computers and laptops and have not yet to have a problem. You have to watch when you print red plum coupons as it will ask your permission and if it's not working depending on the browser you are using you may be to give permission but clicking "allow" if there is a pop up if you have pop ups blocked. Having a printer is an essential or access to one at least. Since each ap only allows 2 prints per computer I do use multiple computers to print. I have found that sometimes I can use multiple users on my laptop to print multiple times for several users. If I take my laptop to work, sometimes it will allow to print there in addition to at home. Be motivated to get your deal! FYI It is against federal law to copy coupons and even if it gives you the option to print multiple copies, you will notice each coupon has a different number in the corner with its own special identifying bar code. Other types of coupons are pdf files that can be printed several times. Know the difference! If it doesn't seem right, then it probably isn't.

Confused? Ask questions!! Next will be stores and rules then on to STACKING!!!

Good luck!
- Bay N

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