The other day, as I was putting together a new section on BargainBabe.com featuring long-term strategies for coupon clipping (as opposed to coupons that expire in a few days), I realized I had never written a basic “How to Clip Coupons” post. Shocking!
If you’re new to coupon clipping and want to get the most reward for your efforts, or just want strategies for getting your coupons more organized, try these five easy steps to coupon clipping to save big on grocery products, toiletries, and drugstore items.
(If you’re an experienced coupon clipper, skip down a few paragraphs to my interview with Lisa Reynolds, “resident mom saver in chief” at RedPlum.com.)
1. Get all the circulars.
Subscribe to the Sunday newspaper, which is when coupons are distributed. Even if you don’t want to subscribe, you may still live in an area that the three major coupon inserts — RedPlum.com, SmartSource.com, and PGeSaver.com — want to reach. Inquire directly by signing up on their websites.
2. Stick to things you use.
Quickly flip through the inserts and clip any coupons that you’re absolutely sure you’ll use, no matter whether or not the item is on sale this week. (I used to recommend clipping every single coupon and filing by category, but that’s not as efficient.)
3. Keep your copupons organized.
File the rest of the inserts in one folder, noting the publication date. (i.e. Feb. 28, 2010).
4. Match your coupons effectively.
Look for sales in the store circulars arriving by snail mail or in your inbox (if you’ve signed up for store email lists). Match sale items with items for which you have coupons. There are two main “matching” databases, AFullCup.com and HotCouponWorld.com, that tell you when coupons were published so you don’t have to sort through each insert by hand. For help finding matches, read some of my favorite coupon matching blogs, like CommonSenseWithMoney.com, CouponCravings.com, and KouponKaren.com. These bloggers often do much of the work for you!
5. Watch the stores for sales.
To get the most bang for your coupon clipping bucks, take your coupons to the store and buy when the item is on sale!
Once you are comfortable with these steps, you’re ready for more advanced coupon clipping. I picked the brain of Lisa Reynolds, the “resident mom saver in chief” at RedPlum.com, for her insider secrets. RedPlum distributes coupons to 40 million people each Sunday through newspaper subscriptions, so I picked her brain about things like how likely a manufacturer is to send you a coupon upon request and how coupons will distributed in the future.
Why aren’t there more grocery coupons online? I think we’re seeing an increase in that. More manufacturers have started placing coupons online. People are going to look for savings wherever they can find them. Coupon distribution for consumer packaged goods is up 11 percent from 2008 to 2009.
Do the coupons at RedPlum.com match the ones in Sunday newspaper? There is not 100 percent overlap, so you want to check both places. The coupons online change more rapidly.
Are they restocked on the first of the month like other sites? Not necessarily. We ask people to sign up for our emails, which tell you when they are restocked.
Why are the coupons limited to a certain number of printings online? It is based on what the manufacturer wants to distribute.
How many printings do you typically see? Tens of thousands for most coupons.
How can people sign up for RedPlum coupons? The best way to figure out where they can receive coupons is to go to RedPlum.com [and click on] where is my coupon book?
What if I’m not eligible to receive them? We suggest people contact the manufacturers directly through [the manufacturer] 800-number. Most manufacturers list it on the back of their products. Thirty percent of the time manufacturers will send you coupons.
How are coupon distributors coping with decreasing newspaper circulation? It is a challenge and one of the things that we are able to offer them is a blended solution. [Through newspapers, direct mail in some markets, and online distribution.]
How will coupons be distributed in the future? We’re continuing to see a lot of experimentation with mobile phones and texting. That will continue to proliferate. The key is to make it easy and convenient.
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