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food storage and couponing?
Sat Feb 23, 2013 9:36 amExperienced "Head Chef" Poster
Since another poster mentioned couponing on the emergency cash thread, I thought a new thread dedicated to couponing might be in order. I have been couponing (on and off) for about a year or so. I actually signed up for online classes on couponing. Unfortunately some of the techniques, such as you see on TV, are no longer allowed by major grocery chains and others, such as theft--taking coupon inserts out of papers on the newstand and clearing the shelves of a product has made couponing more difficult Since stores change their policies, check on the coupon policy of your local store (even if it is part of a chain) before using coupons--especially if you plan to stack
That said, you can save money couponing and there are some items that after you build a stock of coupons, can reliably be had for free, such as toothpaste and dishwashing detergent.
The key to sucessful couponing is timing. Do not expect to save a lot of money until you have 4 to 6 weeks of coupon inserts saved. This is because sales go in cycles and the coupons do not always come out when the cyle for that item occurs. Unfortuately one of the recent changes in couponing--in reaction to extreme couponing--is that expiration dates are becoming shorter. Most coupons these days will expire in about 6 to 8 weeks, often sooner. Though last year I did score some blinkies (coupons you pick up at the grocery store in those blinking holders attached to the shelves) that were for SALAD--a rareity and didn't expire for a year! Coupons for fresh foods like salad, fresh vegetables and fruit are rare. Most couponss are for boxed or canned foods because they are manufacturers coupons--which means that the food came from a factory. While manufactured or processed foods are not the healthiest, they are the ones that can be stored most easily and are more likely to be part of any food storage plan.
Here are the basics of couponing.
I Types of coupons.
1. inserts: come in the newspaper. There are three major ones, SmartSource (SS), Redplum (RP) and Protor and Gamble (P&G). P&G comes out every 4 weeks and covers mostly cleaning and household products but also toothpaste and other P&G products. In many newspapers (this varies from region to region) SS and RP appear weekly, but not on holiday weekends.Many couponers gather all the inserts they can--please do not steal coupon inserts from unsold newspapers, you are stealing from other couponers who will pay for the paper and not get the insert. This is why I buy my papers from either Starbucks or Krogers, the papers are near the register where the employees can keep an eye out for theives. Becentsable.net, the site I learned from suggests that you start with only two papers until you know what works for you. I started with only one because I am single and don't buy a lot of processed foods.
Here's a link to a 2013 schedule of when inserts will appear:
2. Online coupons, are coupons that you can print online. You can print them at the start of end of a month or print them as you need them. There are sites that will match sales and coupons that will provide links to active coupons. However, onlilne coupons are not available in unlimited quantities so if a coupon is for something you regularly buy, it's a good idea to grab it while it is avaiable. To print online coupons you will usually be directed to download a program that controls the printing process. This will limit the number of time you print on a computer to two. The second printing will not occur automatically, to get it click the "back" button on your web browser and then click "refresh." If you want to earn money and coupon at the same time, then consider joining swagbucks. Swagbuck rewards you for watching videos and doing other small tasks (I never do the shopping tasks or any survey that asks for personal info or credit card info). Swagbucks also has a coupon printout feature where you earn points everytime a coupon is redeemed.
3. Digitial coupons are the newcomer to the scene. Digital coupons are coupons that you load onto your store loyalty card and are automatically redeemed when you scan that item at the register. When I first found out about digital coupons, I thought "great, I can stop buying newspapers and spending money on printer ink," I was wrong. . .digital coupons are not as good as paper coupons. WARNINGS: Kroger currently has a push on digital coupos, here is what they don't tell you. (1) Digital Coupons DO NOT DOUBLE. If you have a paper coupon for 50 cents in a store that doubles, then it's the same as a $1 digital coupon. (2) You cannot "stack" (use two or more coupons for the same item) digital coupons and paper coupons (3) Digital coupons have automatic priority over paper coupons, If you have a 25 cent digital coupon and a 50 cent paper coupon, the digital coupon is automatically used and the 50 cent coupon will not be accepted. So the smart shopper waits until right before the shopping trip to load digitial coupons. Since coupons larger than 50 cents are getting rare, I believe it is safe to preload digital coupons for $1 for one item, but I don't preload anything smaller than that.
4. Blinkies are coupons you pick up from the store, ususally in blinking holders fastened to the shelf. These can be fantastic deals especially since they are usually for products you buy on a regular basis (since you were shopping in that aisle). Check the expiration date, they can range from a month or less to a year or more. If the coupon is for a year, feel free to stock up, as long as you leave plenty for the next shopper.
5. Catalinas are the coupons on a long strip that print up on that machine by the cash register. A Catalina will only print out if you have done something trackable--The company is a data mining company and is selling data about your shopping habits. If you use a loyalty card, a credit or debit card or an online coupon, then you may get a Catalina. The Catalina will usually be for a brand other than the one you brought. They are testing to see what it will take to get you to switch brands. If you don't use the first coupon the next time you buy your usual brand, the coupon will be for more off. You may also get a Caltalina as a reward from your usual brand or from the store. Sometimes they are buy xx items and get $ off your next purchase--these will printup off the Catalilna machine. I once got a Catalina for free breakfast meat after stocking up on sausage (Bob Evans often offers online coupons).
Above are the physical types of coupons but there are also different categories of coupons, the two main categories are manufacturer coupons and store coupons. Many stores did away with store coupons when the loyalty cards came out--the loyalty card took the place of the coupon However, some stores, such as Target, Family Dollar and others still print store coupons in their ads and circulars. This is important for stacking. . Stacking is using multiple coupons for the same item. Most stores will not permit two or more manufacturer or store coupons to be stacked but most will allow a manufacturer and a store coupon to be stacked together. So if you have a store coupon for 25 cents and a manufacturer coupon for 50 cents you can get 75 cents off that one item.
BTW, go by the printed words on the coupon not the picture. The coupon only has room for one picture so that's only a representation, the words will tell you if the coupon is limited to one cereal for example for if it is for all the cereals in the same brand.
To save money, make a list and buy only what you normally would use. You don't save money by buying things you normally don't use. But don't buy on a weekly basis. Since sales comes in cycles stockpiling is the only way to save real money on couponing. Shop the sales to build your stockpile and then when you need a item get it from your stockpile.
Sorry for the long post. Has anyone here used coupons to build their emergency supply? What have you stored? How much did you save?
Sat Feb 23, 2013 9:42 amExperienced "Head Chef" Poster
It's me again. I forgot to mention organization. There are two ways to approach organization. You can spend time clipping all the coupons and then store them in an organizer or you can store the inserts in a binder and clip as you need them. I use the insert method and check a coupon database while planning a shopping trip. The coupon database I use is at: http://www.becentsable.net/coupon-database/ There are other databases onlline I just use this one because it was the first couponing education website I found. You can also do a websearch for other databases or couponing information sites.
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