One of the keys to saving money is by using coupons for the products you normally purchase. Just getting one copy of the Sunday paper does not give you enough variety or enough coupons to help you make a serious dent in your grocery bill. Your goal is to stock up on the best buys for items you use. Finding multiples of coupons for those items is the way to build a great stockpile for little cost. By the way, when I say "stockpile," I mean buying enough of the non-perishables and items you can freeze (like meat and some produce) to last about 4 to 6 weeks. That's a normal sales cycle for many foods. I am not one of the couponers who recommends buying enough toilet paper to last you and your whole family for the next 100 years!
The good news is that there are many coupon sources available including sources for the expensive organic and gluten free products! Here are some of the ways I find coupons for our favorite products:
Sunday Newspaper Inserts: If you want a good variety of coupons, you may want to get at least one copy of the Sunday coupons. I was able to get my Sunday only paper for $1.07 per week using a coupon code. Call your local paper and see if they have any available deals on the Sunday paper. If you live in a smaller town, try to get the Sunday newspaper for the larger city nearest to you. They will often have more coupons than the small town papers.
If you buy the paper at a store on Sunday (instead of getting a subscription), make sure you buy it INSIDE the store, not from the paper boxes outside of the store. You want to make sure your paper has the coupons in it before you pay, which you can't do if you are buying from the paper box.
Printable Coupons: Some of the best coupons you will find these days are printable coupons. You may have to spend a little in ink and paper but you can score some big savings! Many manufacturer's offer coupons every day on their websites and Facebook pages including Pillsbury.com, Bettycrocker.com and KelloggsfamilyRewards.com. There are also tons of great printable coupons on sites including coupons.com, smartsource.com, eatbetteramerica.com, redplum.com and more. We post links to manufacturer's coupons on the blog daily. Be sure to sign up for the e-newsletters on the websites for your favorite products and "Like" their Facebook pages so they can alert you when there are new coupons and promotions available.
I want to emphasize that manufacturers are offering some of their highest value coupons through their Facebook pages. If you do not have a Facebook account because you are not interested in the social aspect, you may want to consider getting one just because of the fabulous printable coupons available!
For many of these printable coupons websites, you will need to join their website. It's free to join and you usually have to be logged in to print the coupons. You will have to download some kind of printer software to print most coupons. Many printable coupon websites will allow you to print a coupon twice before it is no longer available. Some only allow 1 print. If you are having trouble getting a coupon to print, you may want to switch browsers between Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox and Chrome.Here are the top printable coupon sites I recommend:
* Coupons.com coupons can be found in the Smart Shopper Coupons link above. Some of my favorite manufacturer's coupons each month come from this website!
* Smartsource.com coupons HERE: Good source for printable manufacturer's coupons
* Redplum.com coupons HERE: Good source for printable manufacturer's coupons
* BettyCrocker.com coupons HERE: Good source for printable manufacturer's coupons for Betty Crocker, Pillsbury and other products
* Pillsbury.com coupons HERE: Good source for printable manufacturer's coupons for Betty Crocker, Pillsbury and other products
* KelloggsFamilyRewards.com coupons HERE for printable Kellogg's coupons: Click on Coupons at the top of the page to see the available coupons. You can also print higher value Kallogg's coupons valid on various Kellogg's products when you redeem KelloggsFamilyRewards points. The codes needed to earn the points are found on the boxes of qualifying Kellogg's products. Look for the Kellogg's Family Rewards logo on participating products. Then inside the box, you will find a code. Enter the code KelloggsFamilyRewards.com. The codes for different products are worth different amounts and you can see the specific amounts on their website. Once you earn 500 points, you can redeem them for a .75/1 coupon for various products. Once you earn 1000 points you can redeem the points for a $1.50/1 coupon (those are great during Super Doubles!). It's all free and if you use Kellogg's products, it won't take you long to get enough points for coupons.
* CommonKindness.com HERE - Good source for organic and health food product coupons
* EatBetterAmerica.com HERE (this site often has coupons for health foods and organic products)
* Mambosprouts.com HERE (this site has a number of products for health foods and organic products)
* Recyclebank.com HERE is a website that gives you points for learning about great ways to become more eco-friendly in your home and throughout your community. You can cash in those points for coupons, freebies (like magazine subscriptions) and gift cards to places like Panera, iTunes, Best Buy and more! It's free to join and you can start earning points right away by doing easy activities like watching videos about recycling, pledging to recycle certain products and reading articles about eco-friendly topics.
Cash Back Websites: In the last few years, a wonderful and new type of savings option has become very popular! I have saved a bunch of money using cash back e-offer websites. The offers from these sites are for coupons that do not come off at the register. Instead, you receive the coupon amount from the cash back website anywhere from a couple hours to a few weeks later. The discount amount is added to an account with that cash back site and once you reach a minimum amount in the account, you can cash it out for a check, Paypal, Amazon gift cards and more, depending on the website. Each website has different minimum amounts, which you can see below. You will NOT see anything about your savings from these sites on the register receipt. The store will send your purchase info to the companies so you get the savings, but you will see anything about it on the actual receipt from the store. The three cash back sites I recommend are * SavingStar.com, and * Checkout 51.com, and * ibotta.com They all offer some great savings. One of the best parts about these sites is that you can use a paper coupon and/or a store coupon at the register in addition to getting the cash back offer!
* SavingStar.com: With the e-coupon site SavingStar, you don't print out a coupon to redeem at the register. You join the website for free, enter in your store rewards cards for participating locations and then pick the digital coupons you want to add to your reward cards. Once you buy a qualified item that is offering savings, the coupon savings are added to your SavingStar account withing 2 to 22 days. Once you have accrued $5 worth of savings in your SavingStar account, you can cash the savings in for a direct deposit to your bank account, a deposit to your Paypal account, an Amazon gift card or you can donate it to a non-profit organization.
Savingstar offers can be used in conjunction with paper coupons and other digital coupon programs! There are new offers added weekly and they also have a new produce offer every Tuesday and a Friday Freebie every Friday! Print out your list of offers to bring with you to the store so you know what savings you have available. For more information, head to their website HERE.
* Checkout 51 is a new cash back coupon source that can be used in conjunction with paper coupons and other digital coupon programs! And you can use it with your smartphone or computer. Sign up on the Checkout 51 website HERE for free using your e-mail or Facebook information. Browse the available offers (and print out a list so you know what offers you have available). The offers are valid each Thursday through the following Wednesday.
Head to the store (any store) and buy the offers you want (we have had offers for milk, orange juice, cereal, carrots, yogurt and more!). Take a photo of your receipt and upload it to Checkout 51 through their website or their Smart phone app (which is what I do). Make sure you submit your receipts during the time that the offers are valid. One the new offers begin on Thursdays, it is too late to submit offers purchased before Thursday, Once they confirm your purchase, they will credit your Checkout 51 account in about 24 hours. My last receipt was approved and the savings were added to my account in 2 hours! That's fast! When you accrue $20 in your Checkout 51 account, you can cash it out in the form of a check mailed to your address. It's a very easy way to increase your coupon savings even more!
* ibotta.com is a coupon site that allows you to earn cash back on the groceries and non-food items you buy at stores including Harris Teeter, CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid, Walmart, Kroger and more! You will need a smartphone or other mobile device to get these offers, This site requires a few more steps to get your savings than the other sites above, but there are some great deals to be had!
Here's how it works:
1. Before shopping, choose your offers. The more you choose, the more cash back you'll earn.
2. Go Shopping. Buy your chosen products at any of the major retailers that Ibotta supports.
3. Take a photo of your receipt and bar code. We'll verify your purchases and credit your account right away.
4. Get your cash loaded onto your PayPal account or donated to any school in America.
Participating stores: Ibotta works at many retailers including these stores in our area: Harris Teeter, Food Lion, ,Target, Walmart, Kroger, CVS, Walgreens. Food Lion is an electronic partner which means that when you link your Food Lion MVP card with your ibotta account, you will get the e-coupon amounts added to your account automatically when you shop there without having to take receipt and bar code photos.
You can increase the amount of your offers by doing different (easy) activities like taking a poll, liking the company on Facebook or reading a recipe.
Big benefit: You can use the ibotta savings in conjunction with manufacturers coupons and store coupons so you can stack a number of different savings avenues.
If you use ibotta, please share your experiences. This app does require a little extra work as far as taking pictures of the receipts but that doesn't take long at all.
For more information, go to the ibotta.com website. PLUS, they are offering a new member bonus right now. New members get a $2 Welcome Aboard sign-up bonus when you redeem your first offer within 10 days of registering HERE!
E-Coupons: E-coupons are digital (electronic) coupons that can be loaded onto your rewards card. A number of grocery and drug stores offer e-coupons including Harris Teeter's e-Vic digital coupons, Food Lion digital coupons, Lowes Foods digital coupons and Kroger digital coupons. Even CVS allows you to load certain digital coupons to your Extrabucks rewards card. Just today I received an e-mail from CVS with a 20% off coupon for regular priced items. I had the option to print the coupon or load it to my rewards card. To see the e-coupons for these stores, head to their websites. Keep in mind that most e-coupons are considered manufacturer's coupons and cannot be combined with paper coupons. In this area, Harris Teeter is the only store that allows you to "stack" paper coupons AND their digital coupons (found at HarrisTeeter.com) on the same product.
Friends, Neighbors, Co-workers, Family: Trade coupons with everyone you know. Set up a coupon basket at work in the break room or at your religious organization. Leave those coupons you don't want and take those you do. Assign someone to go through the basket each month to remove expired coupons (and send them to our overseas military through couposfortroops.com).
Manufacturer's Toll Free Phone Numbers: If it seems like you can never find a coupon for a favorite product, try calling or e-mailing the company directly. Many will send coupons just because you asked. This is an especially good technique for high cost organic items and gluten free products that rarely offer coupons in the newspaper.
Product Packages: I have found tons of coupons on the inside and outside of packages. Don't throw them away until you have taken a good look in the package for any hidden coupons.
Register Coupons: Register coupons are those coupons that come out of the coupon machine next to the register. We often refer to them as Catalinas or Cats because they are offered through the Catalina Marketing Company. Catalina coupons are usually manufacturer's coupons but most have a store logo on them. This means that unless your store accepts competitor's coupons, they may not accept Catalina coupons. They usually scan just fine at other stores because they are manufacturer's coupons, but many stores will not take a coupon with a logo on it. These coupons generally do not double either. Every once in a while you may find that one does double when you are shopping at stores that double coupons, but the coupons do indicate Do Not Double. Harris Teeter and Lowes Foods do accept competitors coupons for a total off your total order so when you get coupons from the atalina Machine from other grocery stores for $4 off a $40 purchase, for instance, you can use them at Harris Teeter and Lowes Foods. They will accept these coupons as long as you have met the purchase requirement on the coupon after all other coupons have been scanned,
In-store coupons and rebates: Don't overlook those coupons and rebates in the aisles in the red boxes on the shelves or on product displays. There are not as many on the shelves as there used to be but I still some every once in a while. During Frozen Food Month and at least one other time during the year, Harris Teeter and Lowes Food will put out a large cardboard in the shape of a penguin. It usually has a number of coupons for frozen and refrigerated products. Sometimes you even find meat, produce or other product coupons or rebates in the stores. They are usually offered by beer or wine companies but in NC you do not have to buy the alcohol to use the coupon or redeem the rebate. That wording will be on the coupon as well.
Magazines: There are some good coupons in the All You Magazine found in stores and online. I don't use every coupon each month and some months there are very few I use but there are enough to more than pay for the subscription and the frugal living articles are informative. There are sometimes coupons in other magazines as well including Good Housekeeping and Better Homes and Gardens.
Coupon Swaps: If you are looking for a coupon swap in the Triangle, check out the Smart Shopper blog every Tuesday when I post a list of swaps going on for the month. There are swaps taking place almost every week somewhere in the Triangle. They are a great way to get multiples of coupons and meet other awesome couponers in the area. Swappers usually meet at local fast food places, libraries or community centers.
Retail coupons: Before you do any online or in-store retail shopping, be sure to look at retailmenot.com and yourretailhelper.com for Amazon Sales and printable coupons. I often use the Retailmenot app on my smartphone in stores to get discounts when I am out and about.
Please share any additional coupon sources you use and as I always say: It's your money - spend it wisely!
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