Class in session!
Are you new to couponing? If so, you’re probably wondering where the heck to start! Don’t worry, after you finish this course you’ll be ready to go and chasing deals every day. Our goal here is to get you comfortable with the lingo and basic info you need to know to get started, you’ll be a pro before you know it! Sit tight and let’s get started.
First Lesson: Lingo
Every deal has a breakdown, and in those breakdowns you’ll see a bunch of letters or phrases that probably won’t make sense to you…UNTIL NOW! Here’s a list of just some of the abbreviations you might see:
Insert: refers to the booklets or pamphlets filled with coupons that you’ll find in your Sunday newspaper.
SS: means Smart Source. This is an insert that you’ll find in your Sunday newspaper.
RP: means Redplum. This is another insert that you’ll find in your Sunday newspaper.
P&G: means Proctor & Gamble. This is a once a month insert you’ll find in your Sunday newspaper.
Q: means Coupon, easy enough.
MQ: means Manufacture Coupon. 99% of the inserts mentioned above are filled with MQ’s!
TQ: means Target Coupon. These can be found in the inserts above, Target weekly ads, Target’s website available to print, or via text. To sign up for Target mobile texts simply text “Coupons” and “Offers” to the number 827438.
IP: means Internet Printable. There are a variety of websites you can use to print coupons online. See the “Printable Coupons” tab on the blog!
Blinkie: refers to the coupons you see in the machines at grocery stores. You know, the ones kids LOVE to play with! Some of the best coupons you’ll come across are blinkies.
Hangtag: refers to coupons that you’ll find hanging on products in stores.
Peelies: refers to coupons that are placed on products and can be peeled off to use when purchasing.
Tearpad: refers to a pad of coupons found in stores. These can be on displays and sometimes attached to shelves.
Catalina: refers to coupons that print from machines at the registers for future purchases. You might see this referred to as a “CAT” sometimes for short. These can be Manufacture Coupons or store coupons, it will vary.
RR: means Register Rewards. This is a Walgreens exclusive coupon that works like cash on a future purchase.
IVC: means Instant Value Coupon. This is a Walgreens exclusive coupon that is found in their weekly ads.
ECB: means Extra Care Buck. This is a CVS exclusive coupon that works like cash on a future purchase.
PP: means Plenti Point. This is part of Rite Aid’s reward program.
RA: means Rite Aid.
Wags: means Walgreens.
BOGO: means Buy One Get One Free. This can refer to a sale in a store or the value on a coupon.
WYB: means When You Buy.
OOP: means Out Of Pocket. This refer to the final price you will pay after all savings and coupons in a transaction.
YMMV: means Your Mileage May Vary. Basically, what one store might have for one price another store in another city/town/state might not.
GC: means Gift Card.
RC: means Rain Check. This is a written piece of paper that you can request from a store when a sale item is out of stock. When the store restocks the item, after the sale period is over, a rain check entitles you to purchase an item for the previous sale price. Rain checks are usually issued at the customer service desk.
Stacking: refers to stores letting you use their own store coupons along with a manufacturer’s coupon for the same item.
Cartwheel: refers to an app exclusive to Target. This app let’s you pick and choose which savings you’d like to apply to your personal account, and the cashier will scan the barcode on the app to apply your savings.
NLA: means No Longer Available. This usually refers to a coupon being discontinued or unavailable at this current point in time.
MM: means Money Maker. This refers to a deal that is free, but also earns you money after using coupons or other savings methods.
Double Dip: this refers to the ability to take advantage of two overlapping sales at the same time on a item.
Dead Deal: this refers to a sale or promotion that is suddenly unavailable, or no longer working.
Run Deal: this refers to a sale or promotion that is worth grabbing your purse, throwing your shoes on and quickly rushing to that particular store. Run deals don’t often last long or items quickly go out of stock.
Whew! You did it, you now know the basic lingo of a couponer! I know it may seem overwhelming right now, but the more you see breakdowns for deals and start couponing you’ll start using these terms on a daily basis comfortably.
Second Lesson: Acquiring Coupons
Now that you know the different types of coupons from the lesson above, you’re probably wondering where to get all these coupons. Let’s go over that and get you set up with some coupons!
Inserts: Smart Source, Red Plum and Proctor & Gamble inserts can be found in your Sunday newspaper. You might know of these as the pamphlets or booklets with coupons inside, we call them inserts in the coupon world! When you’re first starting out I recommend purchasing newspapers in multiples of 4 or 5, you don’t want to overload yourself with too many in the beginning. Something to know about inserts is that coupons and their values may vary by state, or some states might not get specific coupons at all in their inserts. We call these coupons “regional coupons.” We never know which coupons are going to be regional, but there’s generally a reoccurring pattern once a coupon becomes regional.
IP Coupons: If you come across a deal you’d like to do that requires internet printable coupons, it’s as easy as grabbing your computer and finding them online to print the coupons out. There is a limit to how many of the same coupon you can print online, usually it’s two prints per IP per device. See the “Printable Coupons” tab on the blog for your IP coupon needs.
Other Coupons: The various other types of coupons can be found in the locations mentioned above in the lingo lesson!
WOOHOOOO! You’ve got the lingo down and you know where to get your coupons you need. You’re on your way and almost ready to hit the stores!
Third Lesson: Getting Organized
Did you get your inserts and your printable coupons? GREAT! Let’s get you organized so you are prepared when you walk into stores to do your transactions. After you clip all of your coupons (I recommend eventually purchasing a paper cutter for larger quantities of inserts) you’re going to need a method to organize them all. Let’s go over a few ways you can organize them:
Binder method: This is the method that I prefer over anything. You can clearly see all of your coupons and carry your binder with you easily into stores. For this method you will need a durable three ring zip up binder, a pack of clear baseball card sleeves, binder dividers and I also recommend including a small mesh pencil pouch that fits into the rings of your binder. Getting your binder set up will be easy peasy! Insert your baseball card sleeves, binder dividers (labeled with categories to separate your coupons by) and your pencil pouch. Clip all of your coupons for that week and insert them into the individual spaces in the baseball sleeves. Make sure when you are placing them inside the squares that you can still easily read what each coupon says, this will be important when you’re couponing on the go! If you have a bunch of peelies or hangtags, I toss mine into that pencil pouch you have along with a small pair of scissors just incase. Your binder is all set up! Make sure you go through your binder frequently to remove any coupons that are expiring soon or might have already expired.
Whole Insert Filing Method: This is a very simple method, but not very on the go or store friendly. You’ll need a filing box, hanging file folders, and your whole inserts. With this method, you clip what you need as you need the coupons for deals. Organize them by week using the hanging file folders and mark them according to insert name and date. Pretty easy, but you do not have your coupons clipped and ready to go for a run deal if you need them immediately.
Accordion Method: This method is very newbie friendly. All you need is an accordion! Usually you can find these in the dollar section of most stores. Something to keep in mind when buying your accordion is the more newspapers you buy the more coupons you will have, and the bigger the accordion you will need. With this method each week you will clip all your coupons each, staple the tops of all the like coupons together and organize them by category. Accordions are really easy to throw in your purse and run to a store quickly to do a deal, but you also have to find your coupons in the accordion at the store.
There are tons of other methods that people use, but these are the most popular I have found in the years that I have been couponing. You might even think of your own method, whatever works best for you is what you should do.
Fourth Lesson: Learning Store Policies
Look at you! You’ve come so far already, and by now you’re probably feeling comfortable enough to attempt your first deal…right?! ALMOST. Before you head out you want to make sure you know each stores Coupon Policy. Every store has a different policy and those policies are always changing! Make sure you are staying up to date on store policies once you learn them, because there’s nothing worse than having to re-plan your transactions due to a change in policy that you weren’t aware of.
There’s a few ways you can learn store coupon policies. Each store should have an online version for you to read, if you do enough digging you’ll find it. You can either read it frequently and store all that knowledge in your noggin, OR you can print them out and keep them handy on you when you’re out at the stores. Personally, I like to keep store coupon policies in my binder at all times. That way if a cashier is giving you a hard time, you can reach in your binder and show them that you know what the policy is and resolve the issue quickly. Quickly resolving issues with cashiers keeps the cashier happy and your transaction moving along quickly and smoothly!
Fifth Lesson: How to Find a Deal
Aside from following my blog and other social media sources for coupon deals, you’re probably wondering how to come up with or find deals. Putting together your own scenarios and deals is a lot easier than you think! Once you’re comfortable with the lifestyle of being a couponer it will become second nature to you.
A great way to begin finding your own deals is by collecting weekly store ads and skimming through them! Compare store sales and their everyday prices, learn their sale cycle. Stores are very repetitive when it comes to sales most of the time, so you’ll catch on quickly. By skimming over weekly ads and clipping your coupons each week you’ll be able to pair up coupons with sales very easily. See, it’s that simple!
Another way to find deals is by actually going to stores and walking through the aisles with your coupons. This works great with the Binder Method I mentioned back in Lesson 3. Walk through each aisle and pair current sales with the coupons you have from that week, I have found some of my best deals just wandering through aisles at stores with my coupons in hand. While you’re there, make sure you check for that current week or even next weeks ad!
For example: On days when I have some free time I’ll take a trip to Target. I’ll open up the Cartwheel app and browse through the current discount offers, and try to pair those offers with coupons that I know are currently out. Target is my FAVORITE place to coupon, and it’s super newbie friendly. I can guarantee your love for Target will grow even more once you confidently learn to coupon there!
Sixth Lesson: Stockpile
Now, you’ve made your way through all the other lessons and you’re actively couponing. You’re following the blog daily and starting to accumulate a good amount of items that your family will use on a daily basis. Where are you going to put all of the items you are buying? It’s STOCKPILE TIME!
This is probably my favorite part of couponing. Leaving the store with a large amount of items, knowing I saved a ton of money and I have enough to last my family a long time. Nothing beats that adrenaline rush! But then you get home and you have to put it all away, FUN! This is where you’ll need to create your own little space for your stockpile. Stockpiles do NOT have to be huge, your stockpile might be smaller than someone else’s and THAT’S OKAY! We all have different situations and not all of us need or want a huge stockpile. I do however recommend some type of shelving units for your items! This will help keep your stockpile items organized and you can easily check the expiration dates when cycling your items frequently. From time to time you will see me post deals for shelving units on the blog, that would be the time to grab a few shelves to get organized! The key to being a successful couponer is staying organized as much as possible.
There you have it!
These 6 lessons wrap up some of the best advice I can give you when it comes to starting your couponing journey. I will update these lessons from time to time, so make sure you check back frequently. Share these lessons with friends you know who want to learn how to coupon as well!
If you have any questions about how to get started with couponing, please feel free to email me.