Friday, September 7, 2012

Coupon Crazy

When we were kids, my sister and I lived to tag along with my mom to the grocery store.  But we didn't enjoy sneaking treats into the cart or getting a free piece of cheese from the deli like normal kids.  Instead, we loved to swindle the free coupons that teased us from the automatic coupon dispensers.  We would wreak havoc on every aisle, not caring if the coupons were for cereal or hemorrhoid cream!  All of the them were the cat's pajamas.
coupon free coupons
All of these coupons are from one Sunday paper!

Flash forward many years later and I'm still hunting for coupons.  Only now I actually use them as one of the simple ways to save money I practice these days.

According to ilovecouponmonth.com, consumers received $4.6 billion in coupon savings last year. That's a lot of savings and lots of coupons printed! I joined the bandwagon last year after I saw this crazy show where people saved hundreds of dollars by using grocery store coupons.

When I started working full time I began buying my own groceries for lunches. I quickly learned that groceries weren't cheap and I realized why my mom gave me dirty looks when she had to throw food out!  I wanted to save money any way possible, so with the help of Happy Money Saver and  Coupon Sherpa, I started with my groceries. 

How Coupons Work

First a little history.  Coca Cola gave out coupons way back in the late 1800's.  John Pemberton, the inventor of the famous soft drink gave out handwritten slips of paper for a free glass. It was a way to market his drink but there wasn't a great turnaround.  After Pemberton's death a very smart business man bought Coca Cola and gave coupons another whirl.  He mailed coupons for a free Coke across the country, handed them out, and even included them in magazines.  His hard work paid off because 8.5 million coupons were claimed between 1894-1913!

You probably wouldn't think this, but coupons are the same as cash.  According to an article How Do Store Coupons Work? on HowStuffWorks.com,
"Once the cashier accepts the coupon, the store has a problem. It now has a small scrap of paper that is worth cash, but in order to get the cash the store has to mail the coupon to the manufacturer. On the back of most coupons in fine print, the manufacturer lists the mailing address and states that it will also reimburse the store some amount of money for processing -- typically 8 cents per coupon.  A coupon is, essentially, free money, and free money is hard to stop. "
"At the end of the day the coupons in each cash drawer are added up as if they were cash.  Then all of the manufacturers' coupons are sent in plastic bags or pouches to the store's corporate headquarters."
The process after that is long and involved but you get the picture.  Coupons are a win-win because companies get their products in the hands of consumers and the stores benefit financially.


clip coupons
My friend Melissa and I love clipping
 coupons!
Where to get Free Coupons
  • Your Newspaper- I don't know about you, but where I live coupons come wrapped up in the Sunday newspaper like a little gift.  There is always a wide variety of coupons from toothpaste to shampoo.
  • Redplum sticks a coupon circular in my Sunday paper to clip coupons from and you can also check their online site to find free coupons to print out.  There are different categories such as grocery, restaurant, and drug store.
  • RetailMeNot.  Use promo codes for shopping online for your favorite stores.  Promo codes are codes you put in before you check out that allow you to receive a discount.  There are always deals like free shipping on many of my favorite online stores that help me save a couple bucks.
  • Smart Phone- For those who are smart phone savvy, there are apps that download coupons right to your phone.  Pretty easy, huh? It gets better. The coupon on your phone can even be scanned by a cashier!  If you can't decide, here is a list of the top five free iPhone coupon apps and the three best Android coupon apps.
Coupon Clipping Tips 
    coupon clipping free coupon
    Organize your coupons!
  • Purchase a small accordion folder (one with lots of slots) so you can organize your coupons.  Organize the coupons into categories such as frozen food, dairy and  snacks.  No more shuffling through all of the coupons when you're ready to check out. 
  • If you cut out coupons and decide not to use them, donate them to a church or community center for someone in need. I'm sure whoever uses them will be very grateful! 
If you're looking for easy ways to save money, start clipping coupons.  Remember, if you are trying to save on prescription medications, the FamilyWize discount prescription card is like a reusable coupon. You don't have to clip it each week and you can even download it to your phone! Download it for free today. It's valid at over 60,000 pharmacies nationwide and has helped people save every day. Be sure to share these money saving tips with your friends and share any tips YOU have with US! 

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