Are you a coupon Queen?

JoAnn_FlaMarch 24, 2009

Just how do you get started doing this? I am one of the thriftiest people I know and still don't get the coupon thing. I just found out about "southern savers" and still have mixed feelings and don't exactly get it. Can anyone explain the easy way? Thanks

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I'm not a coupon queen, mostly because the items are rarely anything I'd use and I can often find off-brands of equal quality foods or health and beauty aids, for less without a coupon.

When I do have a coupon to use, I'll try to "stack the savings". That's a method you'll want to become an expert in.

1. Use the coupon on a size that is the most cost effective. That means the small bottle of ketchup may be your best bargain with the coupon, not the large bottle, after you figure the unit cost.

2. Use the coupon on an item that is already discounted (loss-leader, manager's special, discontinued on sale, etc.).

3. Use the coupon when you can get double or triple value at the check-out.

4. Look for a rebate on this product. That's how you can get things for free after you apply the above items.

If you can manage 4 out of 4, you'll soon be the coupon queen.

Being the coupon queen takes hours and hours of study and accumulation of coupons/rebates. You don't just go to the grocery store each week with your usual grocery list and a fist full of coupons and buy $150 worth of items for $2.98. That's an exception that takes a large amount of time and planning to execute.

What's your goal as the coupon queen and are you willing to spend the time it takes to execute your plan?

Our neighbor had a friend who was THE coupon queen. She would use the neighbor's garage several times a year to sell all the things she managed to get cheap/free. She also set up at a flea-market every Sunday selling her things. She purchased things she wouldn't/couldn't use and then resold them. She often donated many of the things to worthy causes after she couldn't sell them and the packaging became a little "tired looking" from packing and moving.

My method to save money is to have a budget amount to begin with. Mine is $50/week for 2 adults (food only). Now what can I do with that amount that provides the most food, high-quality food, for the dollars spent?

I focus our food choices on whole foods and avoid highly-processed foods. That eliminates many food coupons. We feed our bodies with nutrition, not empty calories found in most over-processed foods. Nutritionally speaking, I'm not impressed if someone managed to get free Pop-Tarts because of their coupon expertise. I don't consider them "food" to begin with. I set high nutritional standards as food rule #1. Can't think any of my friends who contribute a good portion of their incomes to the pharmacy, suffering from all the most popular food-related diseases, being told by their doctors to get off that health food crap and start eating Pop-Tarts... But I digress.

I also focus on "ingredients" as my food purchases. These are foods that I use to make other foods from scratch. I'd never buy Popin' Fresh Biscuits in a tube - even with a coupon. I can make wholegrain biscuits for a fraction of the price. I don't purchase a wide variety of canned tomato products. I use tomato powder, which takes up a small amount of storage space and can be used to make tomato sauce, tomato paste, pizza sauce, spaghetti sauce, etc. I purchase a whey-based milk substitute (50# = 70-gallons @ $1.66/gallon) and I make my own pudding mixes rather than purchasing a box of pudding and all the other great things I make using "powdered milk" products.

I've never found a coupon for wheat, but it's one of the most inexpensive and most versitile ingredients in my pantry. In the recent past, as an example, I purchased 25# of wheat for $5 (wheat prices have been much higher than that for the last year, but they have also been much lower than that, not that long ago). Out of that wheat I can make flour (and everything I can make with flour), wheat sprouts, wheat grass, wheat flakes, farina (Cream of Wheat), cracked wheat, bulgur, whole cooked wheat, side dishes of all kinds..... Why would I purchase a box of cereal when there is only 17-cents worth of grain in it and then put the box and bag in the recycling bin and spend 10X the price - even with a coupon and stacked savings. Commercial cereal is one of the biggest food rip-offs at ANY price. I have hundreds of pounds of wheat in storage because it's so versitile and so good for us.

There are many ways to save, coupons are just one option.


    Bookmark   March 24, 2009 at 3:04PM
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I don't think I'm a queen, but I can do pretty darn good when I have the time to use them. In the past I've been big on store brands, but lately, I've found the quality to be lacking and some places like Wal-Mart seem to not carry many. Here are afew things I do to save money, but they aren't all true 'couponing'.

One of my tactics is to sign up for as many freebies as I can find. That's usually puts me on the mailing list for new products and coupons. I'm not brand loyal on many things so I'm willing to try something new and my kids think they are getting a treat. Usually, the first coupons that come out for a product either give a huge discount or make an item free. I like that.

As mentioned, some stores like Target and Walgreens will allow you to stack coupons. I think both may give out rainchecks so that can be a good deal if they are out of a product. Walgreens has monthly coupons and rebates in its catalog that you pick up at the store. You buy the items listed and then fill out the form and send in your receipt. I think you can do it on-line now also, but I haven't tried that. I've gotten free or really good deals on things like aluminum foil, make-up, vitamins, toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoos, and femine hygiene products.

You do need to watch yourself with coupons. Its easy to get into the trap of buying something because it is heavily discounted. If you don't regularly buy junk food or air fresheners, then don't keep the coupons. The $.75 for flavored coffe creamer isn't a good deal if you are trying to lose weight.

I like to get coupons out of the Sunday paper and hold them a couple of weeks or until right before they expire. In doing that, I can often find the product on sale and the coupon then makes that item an awesome deal.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2009 at 4:56PM
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I rarely used coupons in the past because I didn't really have the time or energy to deal with them and often found them for items that I didn't need or want. Now that I have some time and am tighening my belt I have found them a valuable tool. I also think there are more out there now (or maybe just easier to find.) You can try, red plum,, etc. I also go to companies that I buy from and sign up for their promotions and coupons like proctor and gamble, colgate, etc.

You have to be careful that you don't blow your budget trying to save money. My rule is.. it must be on sale/ best deal OR I was going to buy it anyway.. Stacking is definately the key.

Some weeks I'll spend $50 and others $150 if there is a great sale on items we use and have coupons for. I have a monthly budget instead of a weekly one and I stick to it which sometimes means eating out of the freezer:)

    Bookmark   March 24, 2009 at 9:17PM
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We do a combination of all of the above. I have plans to create a price book at some point so I'll know for sure what is or isn't a great price. I tried to do the coupon queen thing, and I could probably manage it if I didn't work full time+ outside the home. But I do work outside the home. I missed out on several large rebates (to the tune of about $50), thankfully on things we would buy anyway. Forgot to use "store money" from Walgreens and CVS before it expired, that was probably another $25. That's when I gave up that game; I just don't have the time to keep it up. Good explanation of how to at hotcouponworld though.

I sure would love some free pop tarts though. I love them but would never spend $$ on them.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2009 at 9:37PM
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I am not a coupon queen but do like to save money and do use coupons. Do rebates if I need the item. Do buy stuff at CVS to get the extra bucks but not real big on that. I do cut coupons on things that I don't usually buy but sometimes you can find a great sale on them. Love when Target has clearance on lotions and shampoos because I can get things really cheap and need them anyway.

To get real good at it you have to buy tons of Sunday papers and spend hours clipping and organizing. I really don't have the time for that.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2009 at 10:14PM
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Do most of your shopping at Aldi and skip the coupons except for things you really need and can't live without. Much, much cheaper.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2009 at 1:40AM
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I tried Aldi's again a couple of weeks ago. I still didn't like the quality of the produce and meat. There were several food products from China. I did find a really good deal on Brawny paper towels. I bought more canned goods to try the quality. The green beans and cream of mushroom soup were much better quality than last time. They must have gotten a different supplier. One thing,I don't like was the big aisle of junk food. Cheap junk food isn't a bargain especially if it keeps encouraging you to buy junk food.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2009 at 10:12AM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

Aldi's is hit or miss with me. There are a lot of products I use they don't carry, however, there are a few things I only buy there. They had butter for 1.49 a pound last week and that's a really good price.
I clip coupons and try to use them if it's something I might use. I don't buy granola bars, for instance, but I enjoy them when I have a dollar off coupon and they are also on sale.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2009 at 11:09AM
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Do you have any good websites that can get me started with couponing? They all seem so complicated.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2009 at 11:03AM
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Here's a blog I found someplace recently. She has some little tip like articles and posts some good deals.

Here is a link that might be useful: Never Pay Retail again

    Bookmark   March 30, 2009 at 3:09PM
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The thing about coupons is that they are usually for prepared foods, things I don't use much of. While I don't bake my own bread, I do bake my own muffins, quick breads, pastries, etc., all of which have coupons but still cost more to make than "scratch."

On the other hand, it's cheaper to buy a couple jars of prepared spaghetti sauce than it is to make it the way I do. Prepared foods have their place, especially when you're working and trying to raise kids. But even with coupons, Aldi is by far the cheapest place in town. Limited selection, yes, but what I can't buy there I'm willing to pay for down the street, especially with a coupon!

I do clip coupons for a few things, like the brand of yogurt we like, and if I have a coupon for ricotta when I'm making lasagne, I use it.

Even for cleaning products, I skip the coupons and make vinegar or amonia solutions, which I buy at Aldi.

I'm not knocking packaged goods or coupons; I used them when the kids were home...but not many because they were always too expensive, even with coupons. I must say it's easier to be frugal now that I'm not working and the kids are gone because I have the time to spend making (and thinking about!)food.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2009 at 10:06AM
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Many years ago, I used to really be into the coupons and the refunding, but I find now not all but most, of the coupons are not for things I use. There are so many prepackaged things and frozen things and I just would not use them up. So no I do not do many coupons anymore. Today I used one coupon and it was for a free Kashi meal. Never tried it before.


    Bookmark   April 1, 2009 at 6:26PM
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I think coupons are great for people with kids or people who don't have full time jobs outside the home. But I agree - if you don't buy processed foods, there are not many coupons for fresh fruit, veggies, etc. We don't even buy the flavored yogurt, just the plain non-fat kind. I can get hand soap for a discounted price at Ross (I don't care about the brand.) I get my T paper and paper towels at Costco. (We don't have Aldi's here.) We buy so few processed products - Quaker Oats, natural peanut butter with nothing added, Safeway brand spaghetti sauce, and salad dressings. Everything else is fresh. No coupons.

Once in a while, I will look through the coupons we get in the mail, but none are for a product we normally buy.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2009 at 10:46PM
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I use coupon, but nt often, it is not easy to find one really good for me.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2009 at 2:09AM
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Coupons have really changed over time.

Weekly, I spend about 30 minutes with the circulars from two stores while searching online for printable coupons to map out my shopping trip. I also track certain items like meat and staples so I know good, great, and awesome sales prices as well as when they will go on sale.

This week our local store has LOL butter on sale for $1.66 and I have a .65 coupon that they doubled. Since I love to bake I bought as many as I had coupons. .36 for four sticks of butter- I just put them in the freezer. I won't buy butter again until it goes on sale again.

This week I found coupons for olive oil, sugar, salt, baking powder, vinegar, deli cheese, a pineapple, salad greens, frozen fruit and frozen veggies. Some items still didn't beat the regular store brands for price but the ones that were on sale and I had coupons that could be doubled were about half the price of the lowest no name brand.

It's true there is a lot of processed food. Sometimes those deals are too good for me to pass up and I either save them for our camping trips or donate them to our local food bank where DS volunteers. (I'm thinking cereal, pancake mix, bisquick)

Personal care items can also be had for pennies. When Kmart doubles their coupons up to $2- I stock up on Listerine (it's $4.19--I regularly have $2 coupon-doubled- I get it for .19), head and shoulders (DH has to have it), toothpaste I usually get free, etc.

I encourage you to try it. If it doesn't work for you what have you lost?

    Bookmark   April 3, 2009 at 6:45PM
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Posted by sherrmann (My Page) on Sun, Mar 29, 09 at 1:40

Do most of your shopping at Aldi and skip the coupons except for things you really need and can't live without. Much, much cheaper.

Not true. You can't find salad dressing at Aldi's for 17 cents or free milk, or free cereal, or free, well ANYTHING. Aldi's is cheaper than full retail prices, but you aren't making a killing shopping there, and while you will always find a deal somewhere, that store has some odd things in it, and really off off stuff.

I am becoming a coupon queen. I am spending a little time every week checking the online databases that show you how the sales in your local stores track to coupons, learning about catalina deals. It's fun. I work too, so it's not like I am home all day doing this.

It you don't believe me, do. It works. You just have to know how to do it and there are so many many blogs out there to tell you how.

Here's my receipt from Tuesday if you don't belive me. Saved 50% ($130 bucks) knowing what to buy. And it was all stuff I needed (not any old thing that I had a coupon for)and well less than generic or store brand.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2009 at 3:29PM
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I think coupons are great for people with kids or people who don't have full time jobs outside the home. But I agree - if you don't buy processed foods, there are not many coupons for fresh fruit, veggies, etc.

The problem is you are focusing only on the coupons and not how to use them. If you could get hand soap for next to nothing AND it got you $5 off you next purchase of any item in the store, would you do it? Two bigs boxes of garbage bags (Glad) on sale, with store+manufacturer coupon--you can combine them, cost me $6 and I got $6 off my next purchase of any item in the store.

And places like Wholefoods, which you can't argue isn't natural/organic etc, often have coupons for their items when you sign up on their websites.

And I work full time, too!

Have fun with it!

    Bookmark   April 9, 2009 at 3:35PM
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I've never heard of Aldi. I just do the best I can with what I have. I still haven't mastered all I need to know.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2009 at 9:00PM
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How many weeks of groceries is that? Is that all food or nonfood too? What store was this? Did they double coupons?

    Bookmark   April 10, 2009 at 1:25AM
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I no longer use coupons. Too much trouble. No stores double or triple them around here. I think I do better by buying sale items and store brands.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2009 at 1:57PM
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In addition to having jonsgirl's questions answered, I'd like to see the entire receipt to see what bargains you bought. Also, the number of people and ages in the family.

I shop in chain groceries, too, and the savings on my receipts look similar to yours. I consider them a bit of a gimmick to make me feel better about the money I just spent. Looks like you actually clipped about $23.00 in coupons, the rest are preferred customer savings things generated by the store's computers. All well and good, but still a gimmick. I wish they'd just lower prices.

My grocery chains double only the first five coupons presented, on Wednesdays only. If you don't present the biggest coupons in the first five, they go for face value.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2009 at 1:49PM
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I am a coupon queen and that is actually what brought me here to ivillage and then to the garden site. I am 47 and years ago when my children were little, I use to subscribe to some coupon "trading" magazines (I cannot remember the names of them). I would write to a woman who advertised in the magazine (or vice versa) and we would send each other our "lists" (of coupons we were looking for) and then we would enclose some of our unwanted coupons (hopefully a bunch of them would be on the other womans list) and send them back to the woman with a self addressed stamped envelope and maybe $1.00 for handling. I am wondering if anyone knows if anything like this still exists?? If so, please feel free to contact me. I always have tons of extra coupons and I usually end up throwing them out when they expire. I try to give them away, but always have lots left. Please.... a magazine, on line site?? Thanks, Laura

    Bookmark   April 19, 2009 at 9:39PM
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Remember you'll do best sticking to the outside aisles of supermarkets. Fresh produce, meat, milk, bread. Don't consider it a "deal" if it's junk food full of chemicals/preservatives/fat and salt. I find very few useful coupons. I have just about given up using coupons at all. Hey, I don't need FREE CR@P. It's not a bargain if it isn't something that will help my family. Buy fresh, buy local. Make your own cleaning products from baking soda, bleach, ammonia, borax, etc. Just don't mix bleach and ammonia.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2009 at 1:19AM
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