The first thing you need to become a Deal Diva is coupons! You can find coupon inserts in the Sunday newspaper. There is usually a Smart Source and Red Plum insert. Some weeks there are Proctor and Gamble (toothpaste, etc) or other inserts. You need multiple copies of these inserts to best utilize the sales. You can have multiple papers delivered to your home. Click Here to get info on the Deal Divas Couponing Special with Idaho Press Tribune. A deal with Idaho Statesman is coming soon! There are printable coupons but you can only print two per computer. It is not worth the effort to me to get 2 items for a great deal, I want lots so I don’t have to buy them at full price later!
I like to cut out all the coupons even if it is not something I ordinarily buy. Why you might wonder? Because, if the item is free or a money maker then I might want it to donate. This saves me time at the store if I see an item on clearance or a good deal I can just flip through and check to see if I have a coupon for that item. Some people will store their inserts (write the date they came out on them first) and then file them away. They then go back and clip coupons when they need them. Use one of these methods if you clip all your coupons like I do:
There are several ways to organize your coupons. A simple (and very cheap way) would be to use regular white envelopes and sort your coupons in the envelopes according to categories. Just paper clip like coupons together and stick them in.
These can be found in the office supply sections of Walmart, Target and any office supply store. Similar to the envelopes but easier to look through to see what coupons you have.
Using clear plastic sleeve protectors (the kind for photos or baseball cards), place each coupon in a pocket and you can see what you have. Organize pages with dividers that label the category. This is the easiest way to see what coupons you have.
The Categories I use:
-Breakfast Items (cereal, breakfast bars, oatmeal, syrup, pancake mix)
-Frozen Items (pizza, ice cream, frozen dinners)
-Refrigerated Items (eggs, butter, yogurt, sour cream, milk)
-Snack Foods (popcorn, crackers, chips, fruit snacks, cookies)
-Baking Items (flour, sugar, chocolate chips, cake mixes, muffin mixes, oil, Pam spray, coconut)
-Canned/Jar Goods (including peanut butter, jam)
-Meat/Poultry (canned, fresh, frozen)
-Bread (rolls, English muffins, tortillas)
-Soup (boxed, canned, mixes)
-Pasta (pasta sauce, noodles, parmesan cheese)
-Boxed Meals/Sides (Mac and Cheese, Rice a Roni, potatoes)
-Produce (salad bags, fruit, veggies, refrigerated salad dressings)
-Beverages (juice, soda, cocoa, crystal light, PowerAde)
-Make-up/Beauty (make-up, nail polish, female beauty products)
-Personal Items (soap, razors, lotion, deodorant) I put a Post-it on each page, labeling the subcategories.
-Hair Products (shampoo, styling products)
-Oral Hygiene (toothpaste, floss, toothbrushes)
-Feminine Products (tampons, panty liners)
-Cleaning Products (window cleaner, comet, Swiffer, Lysol wipes)
-Laundry/Dishes (detergent, dish soap, fabric softener)
-Paper Goods (napkins, paper towels, paper plates, toilet paper)
-Kitchen Items (trash bags, foil, Ziploc bags)
-Air Freshener (glade, candles)
-Medicine/First Aid (cough syrup, pain reliever, bandages, topical ointment)
-Pet Items (food, cat litter, etc)
-Baby Items (diapers, wipes, baby food)
-Misc. (batteries, random things)
You could also organize your coupons alphabetically. There are A-Z tabs at Office Supply stores too. You can alphabetize by brand or product.
Things to have on hand:
I do 99% of my coupon shopping at Albertsons. If you don't already have an Albertsons preferred card you will need to get one when you check out. Here in western Idaho our purchases using our preferred card earn us gas rewards in addition to giving us the sale price. I only buy the items on sale with my coupons at Albertsons.
When meat is on sale stock up! A great price for boneless skinless chicken breasts or tenders is $1.79/lb. at Albertsons' butcher block. The nice thing is you can have however much you need for your family wrapped up for you. I usually get 10 packs of 2 lbs. That way I always have it on hand.
Stores are reimbursed completely (plus a small handling fee) so don’t feel bad about getting items for killer deals with your coupons. If the lines are long, try self-checkout. I also warn people who get in line behind me that I might take a little longer. Be courteous to others.
Building a Stockpile
Most coupon beginners run to the store to use their coupons on brand name items. This usually doesn’t save you money over buying generic. The trick is stacking your coupons with a sale. If you buy 6-10 of the same item you will have a stock pile and won't end up paying full price when you need it. Try to assess how much of an item your family uses in 4-6 months and go off that number for stockpiling. You need multiple coupon inserts so you have multiple coupons ready for a sale. Not only do I have a completely full pantry, I haven’t paid for than 0.50 a box for cereal for years! The savings add up. You can find a list of items on sale, coupons available and the final price for that item on IdahoDealDivas.com. This saves you time trying to figure out what to buy each week.
Stick with it. You are not going to have every item you may need overnight. It takes time for the sales to cycle through again. Items are usually on sale at least every 4-6 months. It may take a little while to get the hang of it but saving $$$ can be lots of fun (and addicting!). The money you save can be used for other things. If you are going to spend an hour or more a week you want your savings to be worth your time. Shoot for 70% off your grocery bill. Consider the time spent and the savings.
Albertsons periodically comes out with 3 Twice-the-value coupons (I call them doublers) that allow you to double up to 3 coupons that are $1 or less in value. They come out in the Wednesday or Sunday newspaper and are good on the specified days. Another reason to get the paper, multiple doublers! You can use these with any manufacturer coupon so you get $2 off instead of $1. You can double a coupon from Albertsons ad if it says manufacturer coupon on it (not store coupons). You can only use 3 doublers at a time, but most stores will allow you to do 3 separate transactions in a row.
Online Printable Coupons
Coupons can also be found online. You will have to download a coupon printer that will allow you to print each coupon twice. Hit the back button numerous times after your first one prints, or go back to the original place you got the coupon and print it again. It is Fraud to copy or reproduce internet coupons. The coupons you print can be tracked to your computer, so don’t try it.
-Wal-Mart will price match Albertson’s ads so try that if Albertsons is sold out. They will not accept store coupons. They only match sale prices.
-Some printable coupons require you to sign up on their website and/or sign in print coupons. I have a seperate junk email accoun that I use for things like that. That way my personal account isn't bombarded.
-Don't kill yourself trying to get every deal every week. You will burn yourself out. Do what you can and let the rest go. There will be another sale!
-Make a list before you go to the store. Approximate what you will be spending so you can catch errors (you may have the wrong item, or a promo may not be ringing up right).
-Many stores will list their sales as $2/5. This is to get you to buy more. Most of the time you can purchase just 1 item and get it for the same price ($2.50 in this instance).
Walgreens and RiteAid
Rebates are not as hard as you might think but they can be a bit tricky so make sure you read every detail and get the right items. RiteAid has many free items each month (or even items that you make money from by using coupons!). They allow you to enter rebate information online using your receipt. This cuts out the collecting of UPC symbols and mailing them in. It's much easier than it used to be. RiteAid will list their items as Single Check Rebates in their weekly ad. You can only submit rebates once a month so wait until you have done all your rebates to submit it online.
Earning Register Rewards
Walgreens also has coupons that print out when you buy certain items. These are called Register Rewards, commonly referred to as RR. Their Sunday ad will show you what items will give you Register Rewards. In their ad it will say something like buy 2 of this item and receive a $4 Register Reward. One RR offer per transation. You can buy different RR items in one transaction but if you are buying the same item twice then you will need to do seperate transactions for those items.
Using Register Rewards
This is the where it gets a little tricky. Walgreens is very specific about how to use a RR. You can't buy an item, earn a RR, and use the RR to purchase the same item, and earn another RR. This is called rolling RR. You can use one RR and earn another RR if it is a different item.
For example if you purchase Huggies and earn a RR, you can't use that RR to buy another pack of Huggies. If you do, another RR will not print out. You can use a RR from Huggies to buy another RR item and still earn that RR.
Walgreens doesn't allow you to use a manufacturer coupon and RR on 1 item. You have to have at least 2 items if you are using 2 coupons. Walgreens store coupons don't count. If you want to use a RR and a manufacturer coupon on an item just add another item as a filler to your transaction (like chapstick or candy). This will fix your coupon ratio problem.
Adjusting the price on items
If you have a coupon for $1 off an item but the item is on sale for $0.99 they should adjust the price of the item and allow you to use the coupon. This is a corporate policy. If you have trouble talk to a manager, if that doesn't help, contact their corporate office.
Email me if you have any questions! I am happy to help if I can!