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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Intro to Couponing Podcast

If you're here to hear the Living the Dream Moms Coupon Class Radio Show, you can click HERE to listen (It's pre-recorded.)
Hello Everyone,
Thursday, January 5th, 2012 Mad Coupons had a coupon class on Living the Dream Moms Radio. Below is the document if you would like to  follow along during the show. If you would like for us to email you a copy of the Coupon Guide please email us at Madcoupons@live.com.
Understanding Coupons
Most people are familiar with coupons, but over the years coupons have developed a tarnished name. Most think that the time you spend clipping coupons far out ways the money in which you save. Another common misconception is that not many stores except coupons or they are difficult to use. Some people believe that using coupons is ripping off the grocer, in actuality the grocery stores are fully reimbursed for all of the coupons used in each transaction. The product manufacturers are the ones that pick up the tabs for the cashed in coupons. They want you to use their coupons and buy their products. That’s why they put them in your newspapers. Just as many things in life, there is a lot to learn in regards to coupons. The more you use coupons the easier the process becomes. By no means is this a big secret, it’s really simple. The secret to successful couponing is…..Practice!  

Anyone who is currently spending money on groceries, health and beauty products or cleaning supplies could save a lot more money by incorporating these basic techniques before heading for the check out lines.

Where Should You Shop??
Different Cities, States and/or Regions all have access to different coupon inserts, grocery stores and also different promotional sales. Stores in which one prefers to shop would vary for many reasons. Stock on hand, staffs competency when it comes to coupons, and unadvertised store promotions all are key points that I look at when I recommend stores to visit. In the Seattle area I have kept a close eye on many stores and find that Albertsons and Safeway are neck in neck for my business.    

Whichever store you decide to frequent, familiarize yourself with their coupon policies. The stores Customer Service is always willing to answer questions or direct you to the stores detailed coupon policy. Many stores also have policies posted on their websites. Here are some additional terms you will want to know when couponing:
  • Stacking: Some stores will allow you to ‘stack’ their store coupons with your manufacturer coupons for even greater savings! These store coupons usually come from flyers or in store ads.
  • Double Coupons: Often stores will run promotions that will double the face value of the coupon, meaning that your coupon is worth twice the face value. (Example $1.00 Off would become $2.00 Off)  Current Albertsons ads have been running coupons which you can double the value of a manufactures coupon up to $1.00 Off.  In most cases store will have a limit as to how many coupons you can double per transaction.
  • Triple Coupons: Similar to doubling, Some stores run promotions that allow you to triple the face value of a manufactures coupon. (Example $ 1.00 Off would become $3.00 Off)
  • Buy One, Get One (BOGO) Products: Price wise this is the same as 50% off, but many people think half off means something is wrong with the product. Stores have found Buy one get one promotions move products much quicker than advertising 50% off. Also, most stores will let you use two manufactures coupons for the BOGO’s which in turn lowers the price per item.
Another great saving to keep an eye out for is when a store offers a BOGO free product you can sometimes pair that sale with a manufacturers BOGO coupon, This can make the product absolutely free because the store pays for the first item and the manufacturer pays for the second item. In some states they may still require you to pay sales tax for the free product you are using the coupon for.
  • Store Loyalty Cards: Take advantage of store loyalty cards. Most stores won’t offer discounts if you don’t have a loyalty card. Many stores offer them for FREE and they take only a few minutes to sign up for the added savings.
Questions to Ask the Stores:
  1. Does your store double coupons?
  2. What is the maximum value that you will double?
  3. How many ‘like’ coupons will double?
  4. Do you ever have triple coupon promotions?
  5. Do you take Internet printed coupons?
  6. Can I combine store coupons with manufacturer coupons?
  7. Does this store take expired coupons?
  8. Do you accept competitor coupons?
  9. For BOGO items do you take one or two coupons?
Get the Weekly Ads For All of Your Stores
Typically the local grocery ads come out in Tuesdays’ mail. Many ads can also be viewed online at a given stores website. You will see the largest savings if you match the stores weekly sales with the items you have manufactures coupons for. There are many websites that charge to do this work for you. HotCouponWorld.com is a free resource and is loaded with valuable information. Make a list before you leave for the store. This will allow you to review your purchases, gather your coupons and reduce your actual time in the store. When you get to the store there may be adjustments to your list. Always keep your eyes peeled for any unadvertised in store promotions.

Some Stores such as Walmart & Target will price match other stores print ad pricing. If a certain store is offering a great sale but is out of my area I will often go to a closer store offering these price matches instead of using the additional travel time and gas to go to the store further away. If you plan on using this technique make sure you bring the print ad with you to the store and have it ready at check out. You will need to mention to the store clerk which items are price matches and what the cost is at the competitors’ store. In most cases the clerk will ask for you to point out the price in the ad for verification.

In-Store Promotions and Coupons

Look for coupons and discounts while you shop. They are everywhere.
  • Quantity Promotions: If you buy a certain amount of products you receive a discount (Example: Buy 10 of these products get $10.00 off)
  • Marked Down Pricing: If an item is about to expire, the product is discontinued or if there is too much stock on hand the store will often lower the price to push the products out the door. Once you combined the reduced price with a coupon these items often become FREE products.
  • Peelies: these are the coupons that are stuck to the product. If you don't need the product now, you might later.
  • Blinkies: those coupons in the red SmartSource machines that may or may not have the little blinking light.
  • Catalinas: these print from the machine next to the register, and are usually triggered by an item you purchased. People frequently leave them in their shopping carts-- Keep them. They can often be used just like cash.
  • Tearpads: usually these pads are on the shelf or display.
  • Try Me Free or Rebate forms: these are a great way to try a new product and/or make money on a deal! Buy an item on sale, use the coupon, and send away for the rebate!
Can I Get a Rain check for that?

When you get to the store and realize that someone has beat you to the sale, the stores often offer rain checks to freeze that price for a later visit when they have more stock on hand. Offering a rain check is regulated by law under the false advertisement clause. If the advertisement says limited quantities on hand or for participating stores only, the rain checks may not be offered. Rain checks at Albertsons are good for 30 days and 90 days at Safeway Stores. If stock is still not on hand when you return speak to the cashier or store manager they can extend the date so you still get the deal you were promised.  
Keep your eyes on the cashier

Occasionally, you may come across a cashier who has made a mistake. This could results in some of your coupons not being scanned or a price that scanned is incorrect. Pay attention to your total and each item that is scanned through. Stand up for yourself, if something is wrong have them correct it. If you had 10 coupons and he or she only scanned 9, speak up. It is money we're talking about here.  Make it a habit of double checking your receipt before you leave the store and if there were any in store promotions make sure you receive them as well.

Also, many stores have a "scan right guarantee": it scans correctly or it is free, or you get double the difference back. Make sure that you get the price that you were expecting.

Where do I get all of these coupons

The most consistent suppliers of coupons are the newspapers. There are three kinds of coupon inserts to look for: the SmartSource (SS), the Redplum (RP), which was formerly known as Valassis (V), and once a month, the Procter & Gamble Brand Saver (P&G). There are no inserts on major holidays, so if you are able to skip these weeks it will save you some money.

The first key to saving money is to obtain multiple copies of the inserts-- lots of them. You want to do this as inexpensively as possible.

  • Mad Coupons Distribution Service provides 10 newspapers worth of coupons for $20.00 shipped right to your door. Visit www.madcoupons.net for further information or to place an order.
  • Tacoma, Washington & Surrounding Area Only: (If you're in a different area check with your local newspaper for multi paper discounts.) We have worked out a special deal for couponers with the Tacoma News Tribune. This is the best price locally for newspapers. The Tacoma New Tribune is offering delivery for 3 or more Sunday papers for $1.25 each delivered right to you. To contact Tacoma News Tribune call (800) 289-8711.The promotion code to get this offer is WAsaves. See below for full pricing details:

This offer is for 3 or more Sunday only News Tribune newspapers delivered to your door each Sunday for 26 weeks (6 months).

Prepayment is required for this offer. You may pay by check, debit or credit card.
Based on a 26 week Subscription $1.25 per copy (example: $1.25 x 3 copies x 26 weeks= $97.50 )

3 Copies $97.50 ($1.25 x 3 copies x 26 weeks= $97.50)
4 Copies $130.00 ($1.25 x 4 copies x 26 weeks = $130.00)
5 Copies $162.50 ($1.25 x 5 copies x 26 weeks = $162.50)
6 copies $195.00 ($1.25 x 6 copies x 26 weeks = $195.00)

EZPay Option
You may pay by check, credit. EZ-pay payments are deducted from your checking, debit, or credit card account each month. Please designate to have the deduction made on 5th, 15th, or 25th of each month.
This payment option comes out slightly less than the prepayment option seems your paying based on the number of weeks in the month and you are not paying based on the number on papers you receive.  (based on some months are 4 weeks or 5 weeks for our financial calendar)

Want more copies? Just tell us what you want.
The News Tribune 1-800-289-8711

  • Some stores discount the price of the Sunday paper, or offer a special deal on two. You can often find Sunday papers for $1.00 each at Dollar Tree or other dollar stores.
  • Then you can ask everyone you know. Most people don’t use coupons, or if they do, they cut one or two and toss the rest. Get those. Ask your mother, your neighbors, your church friends, coworkers-- anyone that you can think of!
  • If you live in or close to an apartment or condo complex  check out the recycling bins. You would be surprised how many people just toss the whole center section.
  • Look at hotels, coffee shops, hospitals or nursing homes on a Sunday morning... anywhere that people sit to read the paper and leave the inserts.
  • There are reputable coupon clipping services that will send coupons for a handling fee. Free from the sources above is always best, but sometimes you have to spend money to make money.
  • Another source of coupons is online printable coupons. Most sites allow you to print two copies of each coupon. Keep in mind that many stores no longer accept them due to fraud. You will need to ask if your store accepts these.
Save Time Clipping & Sorting
  • Through my struggles in beginning to coupon I have learned that if you short your inserts by page and staple the similar coupons carefully together the clipping time is reduced to around 30 minutes. Keep in mind that when stapling and also cutting you want to avoid the barcodes and the expiration dates.
  • This stapling method also makes the sorting process go by much faster. Instead of sorting every coupon one at a time you simply sort out the stapled packs of the same coupons.
Once you have your coupons, you need to organize them
  • Everyone has different ways of storing coupons once they are sorted. You may need to try several ways of sorting them before finding one that works well for you. Below are a few popular ways I have come across.
    • Whole Inserts: marked and filed by date in filing cabinet or in a simple pile.
    • Baggie Method: Stored in zip lock bags marked with type of insert(SS, RP or P&G) and date coupons were issued.
    • Accordion File Method: This is the  method I use for the majority of my coupons. I break the coupons in categories (Examples: Meat, Fruits & Veggies, Dairy, Pasta & Grains, Snacks & Goodies, Breakfast, Pre-made or Easy Meals.) I find it easier for me to look through a small section of coupons and have a general idea of what section I would put them in. Also, this filing method does not take much time.  One could also use the same sorting for Household items. The categories might include Paper Products, Bathroom, Kitchen, Vitamins & Medicine, Cosmetics, and Pets.
    • Binder Method: If you are a well organized person this might be for you. Start with a large binder, add folders to divide general sections (Similar to Accordion method) then add sheets of collectible card holders or photo holders which can be used to break down the sections into specific products or sub-categories.
For my most frequently purchased products I use a small binder that I take to the store with me. That way if I am at the store and see an unadvertised sale I can just pull the coupons from that binder.
  • You will want to keep up on weeding out the expired coupons as you go.
Building Your Stockpile
The whole idea around creating a stock pile is to eventually avoid buying non-perishable or frozen products at full price all together. The easiest way to begin your stock pile is stocking up on the FREE or very low cost products. Since all of the grocery sales run on a cycle you can grow your stock on hand fairly quickly just picking up large quantities of the products your family frequently uses when they are priced at their lowest prices.

When stockpiling here are some key points you will want to keep in mind. Which items are you frequently using? How much storage room you have to store the extra products? What is the shelf life of these products and can this product be frozen to extend shelf life? Most avid couponers will invest in a extra freezer if they have room in the garage to stockpile frozen foods and portioned meats. If an item is free I almost always stock up on it. You may be surprised how quick you will go through 5 to 10 of a frequently used product. Commonly stocked food products may include canned foods, Cereals, granola bars, crackers, condiments, juices and boxed pasta meals. Commonly stocked household products might include toilet paper, Toothpaste, toothbrushes, soaps, shampoos, and various cleaning supplies. Stockpiling also works well as food storage in case of any emergency or if finances are tight for a period of time.

Buy the smallest size possible
Stores like Sam's Club and Costco may have you convinced that the bigger sizes are the better value. You're a couponer now, and smaller packages are often a better deal with the coupons factored in.

A large product may be  less expensive with coupons, but the smallest size may be free or drastically reduce the original price. This is part of the logic behind multiple coupons. (An example of this: Instead of using a coupon to save  $1.00 off a $7.00 -120 load laundry detergent you could use (3) of that same $1.00 off coupons on the smaller 40 load laundry detergent priced at $2.00each and Save $3.00 more than you would have buying the larger one.)

Don't let the cashier pull the "one coupon per purchase" line on you

One coupon per purchase does NOT mean one coupon per transaction. Each item is considered a purchase-- many coupons actually say "one coupon per item purchased, which is a much better way to phrase it.

Item 1= this is a purchase; Item 2= this is a purchase; Item 3= this is a purchase; etc... Have them ring them up in individual transactions if they don't get it.

To further drive your point home, you can show them a receipt that has total items purchased= xx, followed by a transaction number.

Be on the lookout for those FREE coupons
  • The newspaper: companies will put coupons for free items into the regular inserts to get you to try the product. EX: the recent FREE Oust fan
  • The mail: get on as many mailing lists as you can. Go to the company web sites and sign up for the newsletter. Here are threads for Contacting Companies to Request Coupons and Baby Mailing Lists.
  • Pay attention to the boards here. Members will post when companies are offering free coupons in a contest, as a giveaway, or for answering a survey.
  • You can contact the companies with a compliment or complaint, and will sometimes receive coupons for a free product.
Again read through the Guide and follow the suggested methods. If one method is not working well for you try another method or combination of methods till you achieve your desired results.
Don't get discouraged if you aren't getting the same deals that you see on the websites. You will get better as you learn, and remember a penny saved is a penny earned.

Remember it’s no big deal if you miss one good sale. Manufacturers and Grocery stores alike will always recirculate good sales and promotions.  Typically the same rock bottom priced  sales come around every 3-6 months.

2012 Coupon Insert Schedule

This is a projected coupon schedule for 2012. It is not always completely accurate, although it gives you a general idea of what inserts to expect each week. It is also important to remember that coupons vary by region and by publication.


— (2) Redplum, (2) Smart Source, and P&G
1-8-12 — Redplum and Smart Source
1-15-12 — Smart Source
1-22-12 — Redplum and Smart Source
1-29-12 — Redplum and Smart Source


— Redplum, Smart Source, and P&G
2-12-12 — Redplum and (2) Smart Source
2-19-12 — Redplum
2-26-12 — (2) Smart Source


— Redplum, Smart Source, P&G
3-11-12 — Redplum and Smart Source
3-18-12 — Redplum and Smart Source
3-25-12 — Redplum and Smart Source


— (2) Redplum, (2) Smart Source, P&G
4-8-12 — No Inserts Scheduled (Easter)
4-15-12 — Redplum and Smart Source
4-22-12 — Smart Source
4-29-12 — Redplum and Smart Source


— Redplum, Smart Source, and P&G
5-13-12 — Redplum and Smart Source
5-20-12 — Redplum and Smart Source
5-27-12 — No Inserts Scheduled (Memorial Day)


— Redplum, Smart Source, and P&G
6-10-12 — Redplum and Smart Source
6-17-12 — Redplum and Smart Source
6-24-12 — Redplum and Smart Source


— No Inserts Scheduled (July 4th)
7-8-12 — Redplum, Smart Source, and P&G
7-15-12 — Smart Source
7-22-12 — Redplum and Smart Source
7-29-12 — Redplum and Smart Source


-12 — (2) Redplum and Smart Source
8-12-12 — Redplum and Smart Source
8-19-12 — Redplum and Smart Source
8-26-12 — Redplum and Smart Source


-12 —No Inserts Scheduled (Labor Day)
9-9-12 — Redplum and (2) Smart Source
9-16-12 — Redplum and Smart Source
9-23-12 — Smart Source
9-30-12 — Redplum and Smart Source


— Redplum, (2) Smart Source, and P&G
10-14-12 — Redplum and Smart Source
10-21-12 — Redplum and Smart Source
10-28-12  — Redplum and Smart Source


— Redplum, Smart Source, and P&G
11-11-12 — (2) Redplum and Smart Source
11-18-12 — Smart Source
11-25-12 — No Inserts Scheduled (Thanksgiving)


-12 — Redplum, Smart Source, and P&G
12-9-12 — Redplum and Smart Source
12-16-12 — Smart Source
12-23-12 — No Inserts Scheduled
12-30-12 — No Inserts Scheduled

These Freeze Great
  • Cream soups -- poured into ice cube trays. Thaw and stir with milk or water if it separates.
  • Goat Cheese
  • Croutons
  • Hot dogs
  • Heavy cream -- shake well and mix with a small amount of dissolved gelatin if it separates.
  • Eggs (raw, out of the shell)
  • Egg Beaters
  • Red potatoes, halved
  • Avocados, halved and pitted
  • Guacamole
  • Poultry, cooked and off the bone
  • Butter
  • Margarine (sticks and tubs)
  • Pasta
  • Rice
  • Tubes of Cookie dough
  • Yogurt
  • Gogurt tubes
  • Yeast
  • Cheese singles
  • Shredded Cheese
  • Parsley
  • Cilantro
  • Flavored coffee creamer
  • Berries
  • Orange Juice
  • Cookies
  • Tortillas
  • Bread
  • Green onions -chopped in 1/2 inch pieces. Smaller pieces are too watery.
These are ok -- minor troubles
  • Lunchmeat
  • Milk
  • Soy Milk
  • Ricotta Cheese
  • Cottage Cheese
  • Block Cheese - slightly crumbly, but fine in recipes
  • Cream Cheese - a little watery and grainy when thawed, but fine in recipes
  • Bananas
  • Onions and green peppers (chopped)
  • Lemons (whole)
  • Pillsbury Crescents & Flaky Layers - not as flaky and layer-y as the MFR intended
Don't even try these.
  • Sour Cream
  • Mayo
  • Miracle Whip
  • Apples (whole or chopped/sliced)
  • Readymade sandwiches
Other Websites & Blogs to help get you started:
www.MyCityMommy.com- tons of different areas listed under the Cities Tab
(If you know of any other great blogs in your area please feel free to list them below)

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