If you’ve been following The Krazy Coupon Lady for more than an hour, then you’ve heard us BEG you to …read more
Beginnersor as we affectionately like to call you "Coupon Virgins"
Ready to go from Coupon-Shy to Coupon-Savvy? We’re here to show you how! You’ve come to the right place to find cartloads of advice that will prepare you to become a certified Krazy Coupon Lady! Click around to learn the lingo, read answers to the most commonly asked questions & learn what Not to do before you make one of many common mistakes!
If you’re feeling overwhelmed or you want the fast track, our book, Pick Another Checkout Lane, Honey, is being hailed by some as the new “Coupon Bible”. It’ll have you ‘stacking’, saving & high-fiving your cashier before you know it!
10 Days to become a Krazy Coupon Lady
Day 1: Change the Way You Shop
Get ready to change the way you shop, the way you eat, the way you plan meals, and the way you feel about the grocery store.
• No more weekly menu with its accompanying list of groceries to be purchased regardless of price
• No more HUGE monthly shopping trip to the local wholesale club and a gallon jar of mayonnaise to try and fit in the fridge
• No more Kleenex box placed strategically in the bathroom because you’re out of toilet paper again
Say good-bye to those days, and say HELLO to the KCL way!
• You’ll be visiting multiple stores, saving from 50 to 90%.
• You’ll be shopping with coupons while a product is on sale and stocking up while it’s cheap or free.
• You’ll eliminate those last minute trips to the store because everything you need will be right at your fingertips.
Are you feeling it? Are you ready to change old habits? Can you envision how your lifestyle is completely compatible with couponing? Then move on to Day 2, Show Me the Coupons.
Day 2: Show Me the Coupons
The number one question people ask when they see how much I save is: Where do you find all the coupons? It’s really not a secret. They’re everywhere! Once you start paying attention, you’ll be amazed at the number and variety of coupons available.
For beginners, there are two main categories of coupons. You’ll need them both to cash in on all the Krazy deals.
1. Newspaper Inserts
The best place to find coupons is in the Sunday paper. There are three different inserts that come out on a regular basis: Smart Source (SS), Red Plum (RP) and Procter & Gamble (PG). Now here’s the BIG secret: to become a Krazy Coupon Lady (or Gent), you’ll want to get your hands on four to six copies of each of these coupons inserts. Sound a bit bizarre?? The way to save Krazy money is to buy multiple products when they’re at rock bottom prices. So when deodorant is free with a coupon, why not get six of them? Getting more than one newspaper allows you to do just that.
So how do you get the Sunday paper? The most conventional way is through a subscription. The first step to finding a subscription is to call your local paper’s circulation department and ask the following questions: Which of the three coupon inserts does your paper carry? Do you offer a Sunday-only or weekend-only subscription? Do you offer any discount if I order multiple copies of your Sunday paper?
As a general rule, if you can get a Sunday or weekend-only subscription for under $2 per week per paper, that’s a pretty good deal. For those whose papers are $2 each or more, for those whose papers do not carry some of the inserts, or (since coupons vary by region) for those whose coupon inserts are thin and sparse, there is still hope! You can purchase whole inserts online from services like The Coupon Clippers or Coupons and Things by Dede.
Want the coupon inserts but don’t want to pay? Less conventional methods are just as effective. Ask friends, neighbors or co-workers to save their coupons for you. Talk to local business owners or convenience stores and ask if you can have their unsold papers at the end of the week. OR—my personal favorite—try your hand (or feet!) at dumpster diving in a newspaper-only recycle bin!
2. Printable Coupons
Printing coupons from your home computer is safe, free and easy! The first time you print from any source, you’ll be required to download quick and safe software so that you can print securely from home. After the software is installed, printing coupons is just a click away! For a great place to find over 2,000 printable coupons, head to TheKrazyCouponLady.com and click “Print Coupons.” Remember, it’s illegal to photocopy coupons!
Where do you find all the coupons? Now you know the answer. Get a newspaper subscription! Start printing coupons at home! Soon you’ll be ready to slash your grocery bill in half! And if you’re still questioning whether you really need to subscribe to multiple copies of the Sunday paper, the answer is YES! Still unsure? Begin by finding deals that utilize printable coupons only. When you start to see the savings potential, you’ll be convinced that subscribing to a few copies of the Sunday paper will pay for itself on your first shopping trip.
Showed you the coupons! Let’s go to Day 3 and Get Organized!
Day 3: Get Organized!
Sunday coupon inserts are piling up on the counter. Coupons litter the floor of you car. You know you saw a coupon for laundry detergent, but where is it now? Organizing your coupons will either make or break your couponing experience.
Introducing the heavy, the organized, the indispensible Krazy Coupon Lady Binder! There are two great and effective ways to organize your binder. Check out our video on Starting Your Binder.
Organize by Category
More time up front, less time shopping, and the most popular amongst Krazy Ladies polled on our website.
- Organizing by category requires a few hours of time each week to clip and organize all your coupons. I usually spend an hour to 90 minutes on a Sunday evening.
- Use baseball card holders (find at Target, Walmart, eBay, etc) to store the clipped coupons. You’ll need about 60 pages, and these run about $5 for a package of 30.
- This method makes preparing to shop quick and easy because your coupons are already clipped and organized. Plus, when you find a clearance item in the store, it only takes a second to flip to the right category and find the coupon you need.
- Download the Krazy Coupon Lady’s Printable Table of Contents and Categories for your binder.
Organize by Date
Less time up front, more time getting ready to shop
Don’t want to clip all your coupons every Sunday? Try organizing by date. With this method you don’t clip any of your coupons until you use them. A Krazy Coupon Lady will throw away at least three-fourths of her coupons, so this method saves you from clipping unnecessarily.
- Organizing by date requires a sheet protector for each set of inserts.
- Across the top of each set, write the date the insert/Sunday paper was published.
- Print the Coupon List from Pinching Your Pennies. (link?) This is an alphabetical list of all the coupons. If you run into a clearance item, you can find what week the coupon was published and flip right to it.
How to Begin Organizing – Both Methods
- Tear the inserts apart, page by page, careful not to ruin barcodes.
- Since you’ll have multiple copies of each insert, spread one entire insert out on the table. Follow by tearing apart the next insert, stacking identical pages together.
- Staple together all of page one, then page two, etc.
- Now, if you’re organizing by date, write the date on each stapled set and put into a clear plastic sheet protector. If you’re organizing by category, clip multiple coupons at once (careful not to damage bar codes or expiration dates) and slip into baseball card holders in corresponding categories.
Now your organization is complete, and you’re ready for the real fun: how and when to use your coupons. Come on over to Day 4: Timing is Everything.
Day 4: Timing is Everything
With your newly organized coupon binder in hand, you’re ready to discover the secret to Krazy couponing success. Timing is everything!
Have you ever taken a coupon to the store, intending to save on some name-brand product, only to find that the generic is cheaper still? Extreme couponing success is much less about what coupons you have and much more about when you use them.
Match Coupons with Sales and Promotions
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is using a coupon just because you have it. The key is to wait until that item goes on sale or the store runs a promotion. Nearly all stores run a weekly ad with newly slashed prices and great promotions like: Buy One, Get One Free or Spend $15 on these products, get $5 back or Buy 4, Save $4 Instantly. When you’re sure the item is marked at a bargain price or the promotion is too good to pass up, then add a coupon on top of it, and you’ve just scored an amazing deal!
Stack Your Coupons
Stacking simply means use one manufacturer coupon and one store coupon on one item. Target, Walgreens, Kroger, Rite Aid and Safeway (just to name a few) all issue store coupons and allow them to be stacked with a manufacturer coupon. (You can never use two manufacturer coupons on one item.)
You’ve probably heard about stores that “double” coupons, meaning they accept your coupon at twice the face value. So, for example, if a coupon is $0.50 off one item, the store will honor that coupon at $1.00 off. If you find a store that doubles or is having a doubling promotion, jump on it. This is an amazing way to save big.
The Perfect Storm & TheKrazyCouponLady.com
The absolute perfect scenario occurs when more than one of the above “couponing stars” align. That’s how you end up bringing home items for free, or better yet, how you leave the store with more money in your pocket than you started with! Now you might be thinking, “Great. How do I know when a product will go on sale? How do I keep track of every store?” The great news is all the work is done and waiting for you at TheKrazyCouponLady.com. You’re welcome.
You can’t wait, can you? Jump on over to Day 5 first and have a little linguistics lesson.
Day 5: Learn the Lingo!
You might be a Krazy Coupon Lady if …. your shopping reports sounds like complex algorithms.
It’s almost laughable how ridiculous the code of couponers is! Here’s a glossary of some of the Krazy abbreviations you’ll see around TheKrazyCouponLady.com.
$1.00/1, $2.00/1, etc: One dollar off one product, two dollars off one product, etc.
$1.00/2, $2.00/2, etc: One dollar off two products, two dollars off two products, etc. You must buy 2 items to receive any savings; you cannot redeem the coupon on one product for half the value.
BOGO: Buy one, get one. Will usually end with “free” or “half off” meaning buy one, get one half off, or buy one get one free.
B1G1, B2G1: Another way to write ‘buy one, get one’. The “B” stands for “buy”, the G stands for “get”. The numbers indicate how many of a product you must buy to qualify and the number of products you get when you redeem the coupon or offer. B1G1= Buy one, get one. B2G1= Buy two, get one B2G2= Buy two, get two
Blinkie: Manufacturer coupons dispensed by coupon machines found in grocery aisles next to products. Recognize them by the blinking red light. Dispenses coupons one at a time in intervals. Manufacturer blinkie coupons may be redeemed at any store, not necessarily the store in which you found them.
Catalina: Sometimes abbreviated as “CAT”, Catalina coupon machines located at register, dispense long receipt-like coupons that may be used on a future purchase. Catalinas, refer to the coupons themselves which may be manufacturer or store coupons. Some Catalina coupons are advertised and some are generated based on consumer behavior.
Coupon Insert: Coupon circulars inserted into Sunday newspapers amongst the other advertisements. Smart Source (SS), Red Plum (RP) and Proctor and Gamble (PG) put out coupon inserts, sometimes just called “inserts”. Coupon inserts are a valuable money-saving tool and The Krazy Coupon Lady recommends buying multiple Sunday newspapers in order to have enough coupons to create a stockpile.
Coupon: a note from a store or manufacturer that entitles shopper to a discount on specific product. Coupons may be clipped form the newspaper, printed from the internet or even downloaded to your store loyalty card.
Couponing: [koo-pon-ing, Kyoo-] (v.) the practice of redeeming discount coupons in order to save money.
Couponer: [koo-pon-er, kyoo-] (n.) A person who collects and saves coupons to redeem them on products, such as groceries.
CRT: Cash Register Tape. Usually used when talking about CVS pharmacy, CRTs print at the bottom of your receipt and are generated based on your purchasing history (seemingly random). CRTs are specific to the store where they were printed. They are usually product specific coupons, example: $1.00 off any deodorant purchase.
Double Coupons: Select stores always double coupons up to a certain value, usually $0.50. If your store doubles coupons up to $0.50 off, any coupon $0.50 or under will be doubled in value. Coupons $0.51 or greater will be worth face value, no doubling. You do not need to present two coupons for one item. Each coupon will be worth twice the value. Other stores may double coupons on a particular week day, usually a slower day like Tuesday. Other stores may offer physical store ‘twice-the-value’ coupons. Even other stores may feature double coupons on a special promo week basis and will advertise this in their weekly ad.
ECB: Extra Care Buck CVS pharmacy program; now renamed Extra Bucks.
eCoupons: Electronic coupons may be downloaded onto your store loyalty card or cell phone. Download from your PC or go mobile and download to your loyalty card through your cell phone. Grocery coupons must be downloaded to your loyalty card and will be deducted automatically when you swipe your card at checkout. E-coupons may be downloaded to your cell-phone for other retail items such as movie rentals. Download a coupon using the mobile ap and show your discount code to your cashier.
Extra Bucks: CVS rewards program, formerly called ECBs. Extra Bucks print according to the store’s weekly or monthly advertised deals. When you make a qualifying purchase, you receive the coordinating Extra Bucks value as advertised. Extra Bucks are similar to catalinas or register rewards, but they print directly onto the bottom of your receipt.
EXP: Expires or Expiration Date
Handling Fee: Refers to an amount, usually $0.08, paid by the manufacturer to reimburse the store for the trouble of accepting a coupon. The handling fee is usually used to pay a clearing house to sort, organize and bill the manufacturer. If a store chose to sort its own coupons, they will keep the handling fee.
IE: Internet Explorer. When a printable coupon specifies IE or FF, you must click the link that coordinates with the browser you’re using.
IVC: Instant Value Coupon. IVCs are store coupons found in the weekly Walgreens ad. IVCs may be stacked with a manufacturer coupon.
KCL: Krazy Coupon Lady, refers to TheKrazyCouponLady.com
Krazy: Intensely enthusiastic about or preoccupied with saving money by using coupons.
MIR: Mail in Rebate, refers to rebates which must be submitted by mail. These are the traditional rebates that require you to mail in both your receipt and proof of purchase in the form of UPC barcodes.
Manufacturer: The company who produces the brand items: Dove soap manufacturer, Pace Salsa manufacturer, etc.
MFR: Manufacturer abreviation.
Manufacturer Coupon: A coupon created by the manufacturer, or by a marketing company on the manufacturer’s behalf. Manufacturer offers a discount to shoppers in order to entice them to buy their product. When a coupon is redeemed the manufacturer reimburses the store for the entire value of the coupon, plus a handling fee, aprox $0.08.
OOP: Out-of-Pocket; refers to the amount of money you will pay a store to make your purchase. Does not include and after-purchase savings, coupons or rebates.
OYNO: On Your Next Order. Store promos such as Spend $25, save $10 on your next shopping order. OYNO refers to savings that you will not see on your first transaction, but that may be applied to your next purchase. Most OYNO coupons have no minimum purchase. If you spend $25 and receive a coupon worth $10 off your next order, there is no minimum purchase on that next order. If you spend and value over $10, you may redeem your coupon. If you spend under $10, you may use your coupon, but will forfeit the difference.
One Coupon per Purchase: Refers to your ability to use one coupon per item. Meant to enforce the point that you may not use two of the exact same coupon for one item.
One Coupon per Transaction: Limits you to only using one of this coupon per transaction. You may request to do separate transactions. Example: If you have 5 coupons that read “one coupon per transaction” you may request to separate into 5 transactions and pay 5 times.
Peelie: Adhesive manufacturer coupons found on products in the store. Peelies are often good on a wider selection of products than the one it is stuck to. Be sure to read the fine print on the peelie to discover if the coupon may be used on a smaller size or different variety of the same product, to allow you to maximize savings.
P&G: Proctor and Gamble manufacture a wide range of consumer goods and are one of the largest corporations in the world. Proctor and Gamble puts out monthly coupon inserts filled with coupons for a variety of Proctor and Gamble produced brands, just a few of which include: Always, Bounty, Crest, Dawn, Gillette, Olay, Pampers and Tide.
PSA: Prices starting at; when a group of items are on sale, such as Fiber One products 25% off. We might write “PSA $2.09″ and list a group of Fiber One coupons. This means that the cheapest Fiber One product is $2.09 and prices go up from there.
Purchase: a purchase refers to buying any item. If I buy 30 items on a single shopping trip, I just made 30 purchases.
Purchase-Based Coupon: Purchase-Based coupons specify a dollar amount off a minimum dollar future purchase. Some common values: $2 off $10, $3 off $15, $4 off $20. Purchase based coupons may be used in addition to store and manufacturer coupons.
Raincheck: A Rain Check is a written slip that you can request from a store when a sale item is out of stock. When the store restocks the item, after the sale period is over, a rain check entitles you to purchase for the previous sale price. Store may include an expiration date as well as a quantity limit on your rain check. Rain checks are usually issued at the customer service desk.
Rebate: A rebate is a refund of part or all of the amount paid. KCL refers to rebates as programs that offer you cash back for making a qualified purchase. Rebates are sponsored by a store or a manufacturer. Either clip and mail UPC barcodes or enter receipt proof of purchase online, then wait for your rebate check in the mail.
RR: Register Rewards. Walgreens drugstore rewards program, and version of the catalina coupon. Look for the same machines located at register, dispensing long receipt-like coupons that may be used on a future purchase. RRs cannot be ‘rolled’ like catalinas.
Rolling Catalinas: refers to the practice of separating your purchase into multiple transactions in order to use register catalina coupons from your first transaction to pay for your second transaction. Another catalina prints from the 2nd transaction that pays for the 3rd transaction and so on.
RP: Red Plum. Formerly known as Vallasis, Red Plum coupon inserts and website feature coupons from a variety of manufacturers. Red Plum is part of Valassis Interactiv.
SCR: Single Check Rebate, Rite Aid Drugstore monthly rebate program. Each month pick up your rebate booklet to see hundreds of dollars in possible rebate savings. Shop with coupons, save your receipts and enter quick information online. The SCR system stores all your rebates and totals them each month. Request your monthly check be mailed to you and cash it like any other check! No clipping barcodes or UPCs, no mailing or stamping an envelope.
SS: Smart Source. A marketing company, like RP, Smart Source coupon inserts and website feature coupons from a variety of manufacturers. Smart Source is part of News America Marketing Co. Smart Source coupon inserts can be found in most Sunday papers.
Stacking: Stacking may refer to using any two promotions together. When a coupon coincides with a promotion, we say “stack the coupon with the sale or promotion”.
Stacking Coupons: Stacking coupons refers to using both a store coupon and a manufacturer coupon on one product. Nearly all stores will allow you to “stack”. Only one manufacturer coupon may be used per item.
Stockpile (v.): to buy many items at a time in order to build your stockpile.
Stockpile (n.): a food storage or stash of food and non-food items. Stockpiling is a key principle to The Krazy Coupon Lady methods. Buy items when they’re on sale and you have a coupon. Buy products before you need them and build up a stockpile of food and toiletries. When you run out of an item shop from your stockpile.
Store Coupon: A coupon created by the store to entice you to buy a certain product at their store. Stores receive no reimbursement from store coupons. Store coupons may be found in the weekly ad, printed online or downloaded as e-coupons.
Store Loyalty Card: A free card which you present at checkout to receive additional savings. Fill out a short application to receive a loyalty card at your local grocer. If you don’t want to carry the card, the cashier can look up your preferred card by entering your ten digit phone number.
Transaction: a transaction refers to your entire purchase, especially the payment you make for that purchase. If I buy 30 items and then pay the cashier, I just made one transaction.
Tear Pad: A pad of manufacturer coupons found near product on shopping aisles. Tear pad manufacturer coupons may be used at any store, not just the one where you found the coupon.
WAGS: Abbreviation for Walgreens Drugstore
UPC: Universal Product Code. Bar code printed on product packages that can be scanned electronically.
WYB: When You Buy. Some sales or coupons require purchase of multiple items. When reporting a deal on KCL, we always include a final price. Example: Buy 2 Mint Milano cookies $2.00 each, use 2 $1.00/2 coupons, Final Price: $1.50 each, WYB 2. You must buy 2 in order to use the $1.00/2 coupon, so the final price states “WYB 2″.
YMMV: Your Mileage May Vary. A phrase used to describe that an experience one shopper has may differ from your experience. One store may allow you to stack additional promos and another location may not do the same. Some stores, such as that ‘one’ SuperCenter, who do not have a universally enforced coupon policy will often let one customer do one thing and another do something completely different. If we receive an email from a reader with a great shopping scenario, we might report it and say, YMMV until we see if stores nationwide are allowing the same scenario.
YNRFD6:PITP You’re Now Ready For Day Six: Power in the Policies.
(Just making sure you were still paying attention.)
Day 6: Power in the Policies
Now that you know how to clip, file, shop, talk the talk and walk the walk, you’re almost there, but you’re not done yet! All your coupon skills are useless without a solid understanding of store policies. Like Sir Francis Bacon said, “Knowledge is Power”.
Follow these important steps to ensure you’re armed with the right kind of knowledge.
1. Pick a store. Beginners should get to know one store at a time. Each is a little different in their policies, promotions, and reward systems. As soon as you get one store down, move on to the next. In no time, you’ll be familiar with a handful of stores, completely confident, rocking your coupon knowledge, and slashing your budget.
2. Obtain the store’s policy. Many store policies can be found at TheKrazyCouponLady.com, or, to conduct your own search, go to the store’s official website and enter “coupon policy” in the search bar. Print off the policy, and keep it in your binder. Ideally, you’re going to contact your chosen store (via phone or email) and request that a copy of their coupon policy be mailed to you. When you receive a hard copy, it will come on company letterhead addressed straight to you. Find a sample email for requesting these policies at TheKrazyCouponLady.com.
3. Keep the policy with you. Make a spot in the back of your binder for store policies–that way you’ll have them with you when you go shopping. This comes in handy at checkout when a coupon is being refused or a situation arises. It’s no longer your word against the cashier’s. You’re now armed with the corporate policy on company letterhead. Who can argue with that?
4. Befriend the Bigwigs. Take the time to set up a meeting with management. If you are serious about couponing, this really is an important step. Through experience I’ve learned that sooner or later you will end up speaking with the manager. So why not ensure that it happens in a controlled, peaceful environment rather than in the midst of a controversial discussion with your cashier? Make it a quick meeting where you simply introduce yourself, inquire into the coupon policy and see if there’s anything you should know about that specific store. The manager will appreciate your efforts, and you’ll leave feeling better prepared and more comfortable shopping at that store. Hopefully, in the end, you’ll also have a new coupon ally.
5. Understand Rain Checks. A Rain Check is a slip of paper provided by the store when a sale item is out of stock. It authorizes you to come back when the item is again in stock and buy it at the sale price. Rain Check policies vary by store, so learn your store’s rules.
Rain Check Points to Consider
• Make sure the coupons you plan to use on the Rain Check item won’t expire before the store restocks
• Don’t bother getting a Rain Check for something that is also included in a Promotion like, “Spend $10, Save $4 Instantly” UNLESS you know the Promotion extends beyond the sale date. The Rain Check is valid for the sale price only.
• You cannot get a Rain Check on clearance prices
• When redeeming Rain Checks, be courteous of your checker. Let her know beforehand that you have a Rain Check; she’ll need to enter the amount manually.
Rain Check Kraziness
Is a favorite, can’t-live-without something on sale? Get a Rain Check for the maximum quantity allowed. Then hurry your little self over to Ebay, and buy all the coupons you need. Go back to the store when the item is in stock (or consider special ordering) and use your additional coupons. Voila! Easy as Rain Check pie!
If you’re feelin’ the power, then it’s time to head on over to Day 7 and prepare your Checkout Checklist!
Day 7: Checkout Checklist
Avoid anxiety at checkout! To ensure a peaceful checkout experience, there are certain steps you can take to lessen the anxiety. I like to call it “Seven Ways to Avoid the Craze”, or, more simply put, “Your Checkout Checklist”!
1. Get organized. Before you leave the house, make a plan of what you want to buy. Write down the items, the prices, and the quantities. If you are doing multiple transactions, separate the items into lists before ever leaving your house. If you’re organizing your coupons, unclipped, by date, now you’ll want to clip your coupons before heading to the store. Those who organize clipped coupons by category may also want to “pull” the coupons they plan to use. Place the coupons in an envelope or in an empty sheet protector at the front of your binder.
2. Choose wisely the time of day that you shop. The less crowded the store, the less stressed both you and your cashier will be. Try doing eight separate transactions with 50 coupons at the 5 o’clock rush hour!! That makes for one grouchy cashier and a line of unhappy customers behind you. I have found that early in the morning, early afternoon, or late at night is best for me.
3. Tip for moms: if you have young kids like I do, shop at a time when they are at their best (in the morning or right after naps). Checking out as a Krazy Coupon Lady is a much longer process than you’re used to. Bring along something to occupy their minds or a treat to occupy their tummies!
4. Consider shopping with a friend. Friends make everything more fun. You can help each other at checkout, share coupons, and even stick up for each other if need be.
5. Talk to your cashier before you even start. Greet him and let him know you will be using coupons. Ask if there is a certain way he would prefer to take your coupons. If you’re planning several transactions, ask if this lane is okay. Be appreciative and kind. Hopefully, the cashier will reciprocate this behavior. Don’t be afraid to profile. I always scan all the checkers and decide who I think is going to be the most coupon-friendly. Personally, I have had the best luck with younger, male checkers. Once you become a regular at a store, you’ll know who to choose.
6. Don’t be afraid to ask for management. Often you know more about the store coupon policy than the checkers do, so don’t be afraid to nicely ask for a manager. Many times, I have had management called, and it ends with the checker saying, “Huh! I never knew that!”
7. Carry a copy of the store’s coupon policy. The reason you went through the trouble of getting it in the first place was to educate yourself and, secondly, to let it do the talking at the register. So keep it close at all times!
With these seven steps, you’re much more likely to check out with ease! Now let’s get these groceries home and start ourselves a stockpile. See Day 8: Stockpiling Sense
Day 8: Stockpiling SenseI have said it before, and I will say it again. I would not coupon if I couldn’t get multiple items at a time. (This is why we tell you to get four to six copies of the newspaper.)
By stockpiling while something is at a Rock Bottom price, you won’t have to pay full price when you have to have it.
Have you ever purchased a child’s coat from a clearance rack in March, sized up for next winter? If you have, then you’ve already had experience in stockpiling! By purchasing that jacket in March, you easily saved 75% off what you’d pay the following October. Now take that “buy ahead” principle and apply it to the grocery store!
Stockpiling responsibly is what will make the difference in your budget and in your life. Let’s talk about how much one family should acquire. This decision should be based on the number of people in your home and the amount of space available. Personally, I like to keep close to a one-year supply of all the shelf-stable products that my family uses on a regular basis. I suggest you aim for, at minimum, a three-month supply and, at maximum, an 18-24 month supply of some non-food products, such as detergent or household cleaners. Extreme Couponing can be fun and addicting, so remember to exercise restraint, if necessary.
After six months of couponing, you’ll be shocked at how many prices you’ll know offhand. Often coupon virgins have not been paying attention to prices, which makes it hard to know when a sale price is red hot or only lukewarm. You need to build a price list. Whether you write it down or keep it in your head (like I do), try to begin paying attention to the prices of the foods you buy most often.
Watch for our “Stock-Up” icons on TheKrazyCouponLady.com. When you see this icon (Final Price: $X.XX), it means that the price is good enough to stock a three to six month supply. When you see this icon (Final Price: $X.XX), it means the price is so hot that it’s worthy of stocking up a six month supply or more!
Shirk your brand loyalty
Your couponing efforts will be much more successful if you can buy whatever brand is cheapest. Everyone is allowed to stay brand loyal to a few items—you don’t have to give up everything you love—but try to be open to trying other name brands.
Need any more reasons? Besides saving money, here are six more reason that make a lot of “stockpiling sense”.
- 1. In case of catastrophe. No one likes to think it will ever happen to us, but why not be prepared and even in a position to help others?
- 2. In case of job loss. With the current economy this isn’t too far-fetched for many of us, and a stockpile will help bridge the gap until a new job is found.
- 3. In case food prices skyrocket. There are many unpredictable problems that can affect the price and availability of food. Your stockpile can buffer you from fluctuating prices.
- 4. In case gas prices go through the roof. Sound familiar? This hits home for most of us. It’s obvious that the price of oil directly affects the price of food. Again, your stockpile saves you from panicking over those rising prices.
- 5. For the spontaneous cook inside of you. On a happier note, having a variety of food on hand allows you to whip up a meal or treat just because you can. You’ll never be making those last minute dashes to the store for that one missing ingredient!
- 6. For peace of mind. Essentially, this is the whole reason to stockpile: being able to tell fear and anxiety to hit the road. Knowing you’re prepared for whatever the future holds is priceless.
Look at you—making excuses to go out to the garage just to look at those beautifully stocked shelves! Pull up a camp chair, and let’s talk about Day 9, Finding Balance.
Day 9: Finding Balance
When I first started couponing, I was so excited about all the money I was saving that I thought I needed to cash in on EVERY deal at EVERY store! I was shopping at Albertson’s, Walgreens, Walmart, Target, and occasionally K-Mart. And this was on a weekly basis! Obviously, it didn’t take long before I was completely burnt out. Not to mention, my kids would spot the “Big Red Bulls Eye” and burst into tears. (Okay, that might be an exaggeration, but you get the point.)
Remember, it’s best for you “coupon virgins” to learn one store at a time. I think the easiest way to choose a store is to pick what’s closest to your house. You’ll be going there often, so it makes sense to find a store nearby.
Another key to finding balance in couponing is to remind yourself that this most likely isn’t the last time you will see products at this price. When I was a newbie, I didn’t realize that the prices I was seeing were not once-in-a-lifetime sales! The industry standard for coupon and sale cycles is three to four months. On lots of products, like Kraft and General Mills, the cycle is more often than that.
Now inhale……and relax. Let’s wrap this all up at Day 10, Making KCL a Way of Life.
Day 10: Making KCL a Way of Life
Repeat after me: Buy before you need while it’s CHEAP or FREE, and avoid having to buy at FULL PRICE when you absolutely need it!
At the grocery store this line of thinking has become second nature. We’re all on our way to creating a stockpile that will support our families (and friends, neighborhoods, and towns, if necessary!) If you have been doing this for very long, you are spending LESS at the grocery store and accumulating MORE! It’s a wonderful thing.
So, if you are a KCL at the grocery store, it’s time to start thinking about taking this a step further and Making KCL a Way of Life.
Stockpile Kids’ Clothes
Shop end-of-season clearance racks and buy a size or two up. Shop Secondhand stores and Garage Sales for gently used, name-brand clothing. My new favorite way to accumulate kids’ clothes is to stack an Old Navy Sale or Clearance item with an Old Navy Weekly coupon.
Check Out Books and Movies from the Library
This is a great way to find movies and books for FREE. (Plus, I am always motivated to get the books read since they have a due date!) Free Redbox codes are also a great way to get the most current movies. Since Redbox started doing this, I have cancelled our Netflix subscription!
Buy Birthday Toys on Clearance
Every year after Christmas, Target clearances most of their toy section. Take this opportunity to stock up on birthday presents for your kids, their friends, their cousins, etc.
Stock Up on Office and School Supplies
After school starts, Target clearances their student supplies. It’s a great time to stock up on a year’s worth of things you’ll need for your home office, crafts, and classroom supplies.
Pay It Forward
Even though my garage is fully stockpiled with all that my family needs, I haven’t backed down on my couponing. The newspapers keep coming, my binder is still full, and my eyes are forever on the lookout for those irresistible deals. When I see free toothpaste and deodorant, or $0.50 cereal, I never pass them up. I purchase them with another plan in mind. They won’t end up on the shelves in my garage but in the hands of someone in need. Local food banks, women and children’s shelters, and nursing homes are just a few of the places I visit. Recently I was able to donate over 300 pounds of food to my local food bank. What an amazing opportunity! Couponing has given me the gift of giving. I’ve been blessed to be able to share the love, help people survive, and lighten others’ loads.
As amazing as it is to give, one of my favorite ways to pay it forward comes from the Chinese proverb: “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.” I like to say, “Give a woman a basket of food, and feed her for a day. Give a woman a lesson on couponing, and feed her family for a lifetime!” It has been incredible to watch people transform their own lives by implementing the simple principles of couponing. Story after story flood my email—positive change and life-altering hope brought into lives just because of coupons. What a gift it is to be able to teach others how to save money, how to feed their families on pennies, and how to take control in their lives. Change is powerful, and it’s happening all over the nation because of coupons!
In a very real way, couponing has the power to transform your life too. I save $10,000 a year on groceries all because I know how to use my coupons! Yes, it takes a little work, a bit of extra time, and some planned effort, but the results are amazing. Eliminate your debt, build a financial reserve and a stockpile loaded with all your needs, and gain the opportunity to pay it forward. What more could you want?
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