Couponing {Where and how to find deals}

How are we doing with the couponing? Overwhelmed? 
It does seem like a lot to begin with, for me I just started with a couple stores, learned them and then added more. For groceries I mostly shop Vons and Target so that allowed me to practice ad scanning and stacking store with manufacture coupons. Then, when I was comfortable with that, I added in the pharmacies like Walgreens, Rite Aid and CVS- they will be there own post for tomorrow.  Soon it will be like a game mixed with a scavenger hunt.
Alright, first things first- Click “Read More”!

In my area, in the mail I get store ads every Monday. For you they might come in the mail or the Sunday paper, if you don’t get the mail I would invest in the Sunday paper, even if you can get the coupons in your Saturday paper because ads are important (and you will still get another set of coupons). Then you look through them, sometimes- most of the time- you may have to go through twice. I am a dork and I get excited about Ad Monday because the game is to find what I can get for free. But I do an initial go through and the when I make my meal plan I sit down with the ad and my coupons to see what is a definite buy and what else is on sale and develop meals based on price. 
It really helps to know your store plolicy when going through ads, for example, at Vons (in my area) they double one coupon up to a dollar and accept two like coupons, only doubling the first one. 
Let’s take that step by step- doubling one coupon up to a dollar means that they will double the face value to at most one dollar. If the coupon is for $.30 they will double to $.60, if it is $.75 they will give you $1 so only an extra $.25. Then they will take two of the same coupon and only double the first one, so if you had a $.75 you would get one at a $1 and the other would stay at the face value of $.75
So I keep that in mind when looking through ads- like when I found this deal, it got a circle and everything!
These are a relatively new product (which we love because they generally have pretty high value coupons on new products to get you to try them) the Fun-da-middles were on sale for $.99 back during the holidays. At this time, I had a $.75 off one coupon, that- at Vons- double to $1. 
What does that mean?!
FREE CAKE MIX!!! 
Ding ding ding! Did you hear that, the sound the slot machine makes when you hit the jack pot?
Ok, maybe not, but that is what I hear in my head when I find things like this. 
So, since I can use two at a time but Vons won’t double the second one I decided that even though they don’t and I would get the first one for free and the second one for $.25, that was still pretty amazing. I had 6 coupons, so I went back 3 times during that week to do the deal and got 6 boxes for $.75- and now I have cake mix for Avery’s birthday at the end of this month. 
This is just one example, I am always looking for what to get for free but still I am looking for deals on my staples as well. Like, I need granola bars, yogurt, crackers, meat, sides, bread and so on each week so I scan my ads at a couple of stores and see if it is worth my time to go to two grocery stores because of the deals. Whatever brand has the best sale is what my family gets, one week it may be Activia yogurt, one week it is Dannon, another it could be gogurts. It just depends. You really need to be flexible if you want to save the most money. 
Ok, how about ANOTHER place to find deals, this is the prime reason why I am a binder person… the CLEARANCE section!!! I am sooooooo a clearance shopper and that is not just at Target, there are clearance sections at you grocery stores too and you can still use coupons on those items!! For me, the clearance sections are in multiple locations, one in the deli usually with the foods they make on site but didn’t sell the same day they were made, in the meat aisle, in the packaged meat area in the freezer section and in the back of the store for all the pantry and cleaning stuff that does not need to be refrigerated. Items here are marked down 50% to 75% off their orignial price, and then you an use a coupon on top for even more savings! Plus if there is a sale on that item going on, they will take the percentage off, off of the sale price!
One time there was a Swiffer Wet Jet Starter kit in the clearance area for 50% the $22 price (I would never have bought it at $22) so that brought it to $11- then, I had a 5$ of coupon that I used to pay $6 for the whole starter kit, that I can get behind. 
I do have a few rules and guidelines for clearance shopping:
*I am all about buying dented cans on clearance, but just beware, their contents are generally under pressure and may squirt when you open them, just be prepared. 
*Always check expiration dates, if it is coming up and you won’t use it and you can throw it in the freezer right when you get home, I totally suggest grabbing the item. We have a deep freezer in the garage (that we bought at an outlet store and got a great deal on because of a large dent).
*In the meat section, if it is gray, I don’t buy it, if it has a bunch of extra liquid, I don’t buy it, if it passes those tests, I pick it up and either cook it that night or throw it in the freezer. 
Ok, this post got reallllllly long. The last place I will share to find deals is on couponing BLOGS! I have a few of my favorites shared in the “Frugal Ladies” page at the top of the blog but I would go the extra step and like a couple on fb because then when they post a great deal, you are likely to get it there faster. 
Hope that helps!
Tomorrow- the pharmacies!!

One Response to Couponing {Where and how to find deals}

  1. Kara @ Mine for the Making February 4, 2012 at 5:47 pm #

    I heart this series. Ive learned so much.