Ready for Lesson Three? Yesterday I asked you to pick up a Sunday paper for today's installment of my October Coupon Lessons. Did you do that? Great! And if not, you can still head out and pick one up. Or, just remember next week and come back to review.
I'm using The Tacoma News Tribune and it's quite possible we'll be dealing with different pieces depending what city you're from. But that's OK! We should more or less have the same categories of items. So don't worry if your paper isn't identical.
So here is what I generally do to speed things up and not waste time: I sort. Here is a picture of how I might sort my newspaper…coupon inserts, ads for stores I follow regularly, ads for stores I don't, the Parade insert, and everything else. (I don't always lay everything out so neatly, I'm just doing that for your benefit!)
First, the coupon inserts. They look like these.
There are generally three companies that put out the Sunday coupon inserts: Procter & Gamble (AKA "P&G"), SmartSource, and Red Plum. This week, I found three inserts in my paper…two SmartSource and a Red Plum. Note that one appears to be a General Mills insert, but if you look on the tiny print on the side, it says SmartSource alright. P&G inserts are generally put out once at a month (at the beginning). Red Plum – well unfortunately we're starting to see it disappear from some area Sunday papers. For right now, it's still in the Tacoma paper which is why I subscribe to Tacoma as opposed to Seattle (which doesn't carry the Red Plum.)
When I cut my coupons each week, I scan the pages of the inserts. Sometimes you can find some interesting information there that will help you with your coupon adventures. For instance, this week I learned that Fred Meyer is offering a good sale on the Kotex that would pair well with the coupon in the same insert. (By the way, do any of my newbies out there find this interesting – that stores would WANT you to use coupons? And that they'd even HELP you find the deals? As you get going you will find this to be the case more often than not. It's no coincidence that stores offer sales the same time manufacturers are issuing coupons.)
Now I'm going to move right along and NOT talk about how I cut my coupons and organize them. I will get to that in another lesson. My goal here is to break this whole thing down into easily digest-able chunks.
So once you've found the inserts, set them aside for now.
Next, ads. The ads I like to look through are the drugstores, Albertsons, Safeway, and Target. This is just one way to learn about sales that are going on. It is another source of coupons – store coupons. How are these different from the coupons in the inserts? Simply put, store coupons are issued by STORES. Coupons in inserts are mainly issued by product MANUFACTURERS. When you redeem a manufacturer's coupon at a store, the store will then submit that coupon to the manufacturer for reimbursement. This is important to understand: manufacturers' coupons are a form of payment. The store does not take a loss when you use manufacturer's coupons!
Here are some Safeway coupons in this weekend's ad. They clearly have the Safeway logo on them, and in the fine print, you'll see there's no instruction for where Safeway should send the coupon for reimbursement. Therefore, it's safe to assume these are truly store coupons. Now here's an important tip: in MOST cases, you CAN use a store coupon and a manufacturer's coupon for the same item. For instance, if I had an Arm & Hammer cat litter coupon I clipped from an insert or found on their website, I could use that PLUS the Safeway coupon on the one cat litter purchase.
Oh, and here's an exciting find: Albertsons' doubler coupons. If you've been reading my blog for any length of time, you've noticed I've talked about them before. Well here they are! You'll see that there are three of them and they read "Twice the Value" on the top. How do these work? Well, you'd cut them out and use them with a manufacturer's coupon of your choice. Let's say your coupon was for $1 off toilet paper. With the doubler in hand, you'd now be able to save $2 off that toilet paper! If you want to know what you could do with these puppies right now, see my Albertsons post. There are a few items that would end up very cheap or free with these.
I sense the questions starting to rise.
Don't worry. I promise you, I will be explaining all this in more detail very soon. But for now, just know that there are store coupons and manufacturer's coupons and that you can often use them together for the same purchase, OK?
Depending on how much time I have (or not), I may browse the other ads as well. I will especially be paying attention as we near Black Friday. Last year, I believe I found a "Save $10 off your purchase of $10 or more" coupon in a JC Penney ad. Think you could find something you needed for about $10 or a little over? I bet you could. This week, there are some great coupons for JoAnn's and Michael's craft stores. Even if you're not crafty, they have TONS of items that would make nice gifts, plus I've also found art supplies for the kids, frames, and home decor. I want you to recognize that you can take couponing beyond groceries. I have purchased many things with coupons that had little or nothing to do with groceries.
Parade insert. I always give it a quick check because sometimes I'll find a coupon or two in there. I didn't find any in the insert for this week. However, it's important to check EVERY Parade insert you get – even for the same paper. I have purchased 2-3 Seattle Times before and found coupons in some of the Parades, and not in others. Don't know what the logic is here, but there you have it.
Lastly, I'll flip through Section A of the paper for any store sale announcements, store coupons, and the like. I'll also quickly scan the rest of the paper. Today I found some great pizza coupons on front of the Funny Section.
Overwhelmed? Don't be!
I promise, as you get going, this will take a matter of minutes. I do not spend hours pouring over the paper each weekend. I sure have better things to do, and I imagine you do as well.
So what's next on the schedule? This week I'm going to delve a little deeper into different kinds of coupons and how to collect and organize them. Then we're going to start to put this together a bit and I'm going to be talking about how to find good deals to use your coupons on.
Questions? Comments? Let me know. This month is truly all about helping you, so I want your feedback.