How to Save with Coupons (part one)

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Coupons are kind of popular nowadays. When TLC’s Extreme Couponing first premiered, many people wanted to learn how to use coupons to save money like the people on the show. These people may not have ever used a coupon in their life (gasp!). Before you learn how to be “extreme” with coupons, you should learn some basics. So let’s start at the beginning.

Coupons are available for use in grocery stores, as well as fast food restaurants and retail stores. If you can learn how to cut down on your grocery bills by using coupons, it is like found money.

There are different types of coupons available to be used. There are manufacturer coupons that can be used on the specified product at any store. These can come from a Sunday paper coupon insert, from a company’s website, or they can even be found at a store on a display. Let’s learn some of the different types of coupons and different ways to get coupons.
A store coupon is a coupon that is redeemable only at a certain store. They will normally say “only redeemable at…” There are some instances when these coupons can be used at other stores, but that is for another article.

A Catalina is a type of coupon that prints at the store, usually at the time of purchase. These Catalinas are redeemed at the store from which they were printed. These coupons might print at the end of your purchase and they often come in a few varieties. These include:

* money off coupons for your next order (like save $1 off of your next purchase)

* register rewards (these come from Walgreens and are a reward for purchasing a specific product)

* coupons for a specific product (for example, save $2 off your next purchase of Excedrine Migraine)

Similar to Catalinas are Extracare bucks. These are exclusive to CVS and are store coupons that can only be used at CVS. Learn more about CVS and Extracare bucks here.
An Internet coupon is one that is you print from off of the Internet. Company’s may do promotions where they offer a high-value coupon for a “like” on Facebook, or even as a thank you to customers. These coupons are printed from your own printer. Often, these can be printed two times by simply pressing the back button after the first print. These coupons are usually limited to two per computer. Coupons.com, Redplum, and Smartsource are some places where you can get started printing coupons.
An eCoupon is a coupon that is loaded onto a store card. I’ve never had the chance to use one of these yet as the stores that I shop at don’t offer them. But some stores offer coupons that you load right onto a store card and once you take them to the grocery store and purchase the items, the money comes right off of your order once you scan your card.

Another way to get coupons is to call or email companies to ask to be put on the company coupon mailing list. These coupons are sometimes high value coupons so it may be worth your time to make a point of emailing companies whose products you use frequently.

Yet another way of getting coupons is with free samples. I LOVE me some free samples. More often than not, when you get a free sample a company will include a coupon in with the sample so you can purchase the full sized product at a discount. These are sometimes great coupons with high values!

Sometimes people don’t want to start couponing because they think it is too difficult or too time consuming. While it is true that it takes time to clip the coupons and organize them, it might not take as much time as you would think. If you are not interested in extreme couponing, you don’t have to spend nearly as much time as the people on the show. And once you get used to using coupons, it is not difficult at all to remember to take coupons with you when you shop. We don’t leave the house without coupons in our family! Even if we are going to retail store, we use coupons.

If you want to start using coupons right away, you will need to start collecting them. Most couponers buy a Sunday paper (or two, or ten). These newspapers have coupons on all Sundays, except for on Holidays. Once you get your flyers, you can look at the coupons available to determine the best deals. Next week we will learn more coupon basics so stay tuned!

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