my thifty life: couponing for rookies by lindsay

Today, I’m kicking off my new series My Thrifty Life, with a guest post from Lindsay. To read more about this series, check it out here. Take it away, Linds!

Hello, Knewlywifed Fans!! My name is Lindsay and I write a little blog, Lindsay’s List. I blog about my daily musings on food, exercise, family and faith – quite poorly, I might add. A few weeks ago, I wrote about a frugal-living conference, Becoming 2011, that I had attended. I must have done a good job making myself seem like a couponing pro, because Britt, naïve as she is, asked me to guest post on the topic. Ha! Fooled you, Britt, but thanks for the mic!

***Disclaimer: Contrary to popular belief, I am NOT a couponing expert. In fact, I’m somewhat new to the couponing scene. I started last year, out of necessity, and haven’t paid full price for ANYTHING since! The tips I’ll share are what work for ME and MY FAMILY. The way you coupon might be completely different. And that’s ok. The spectrum is wide: you can stockpile cans of tuna fish until your stash grows so big that it topples out of your daughter’s closet. OR you can clip a coupon per week and be done. Do what works for YOU!! (But please don’t complain to me when your family gets Mercury poisoning).***
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Knowing HOW TO START might be the biggest deterrent for many new couponers. I think my best piece of advice is: BUY WHAT YOU NEED!! Buy only what your family will eat or what you can get for free and give away!! Don’t clip coupons for junk food if you only eat organic. Ask yourself this simple question: Would I buy this item if I didn’t have a coupon? You aren’t saving any money and you’re wasting your precious time if the answer is no. Buy what you’ll use and leave the dog food for those who actually have. a. dog. Also, when you find an item on sale, you’ll want to buy enough of it to last for 6 weeks. That’s roughly the amount of time before the item will go back on sale. Your GOAL: Only buy items that are ON SALE, and have a matching coupon!!

After you’ve determined what you’ll use and how much you need, you can make a grocery list. And that’s where online help comes to the rescue.

  • Check out online couponing sites

I’m what you might call a “lazy” couponer. I get most of my tips from an amazing site, Southern Savers. If you’ve never been there, go immediately! (well not immediately, read my post first Smile ) Jenny, the founder, takes all the guess work out of couponing and makes it easy for lazy housewives like me. There are a handful of other sites that are similarly set up – KrazyCouponLady, CouponMom. Here’s how Southern Savers works. Jenny takes the store ad that comes out each week and pairs current coupons out (newspaper, online, catalinas) with the store sales. Each week, you can go to S.S., make your shopping list, print or clip your coupons, and head to the store.

But where do I get coupons? Here’s just a few, of MANY, places…

  • Newspapers: I personally buy 2 Sunday newspapers a week. We’ve just made it a habit of swinging by Bilo on our way home from church each Sunday. There are anywhere from 1-3 coupon inserts each week, but if a coupon is a high value one, you’ll wish you could get your hands on more. So that’s why I buy two.
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  • Online printables: Sites like Coupons.com, SmartSource, and Redplum are all great places to start. For organic foods, try Mambo Sprouts. I also use Southern Savers coupon database. You just type in the product you need a coupon for and the database will search for it! You’ll need a decent printer and ink cartridge if you want to print a lot.
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  • Catalinas: These are the little guys that come out at the cash register after you’ve paid. They’ll have the grocery store’s logo on them, but if you’ll look closely, many say “Manufacturer’s Coupon, meaning you can use it at any store.
  • Facebook: Companies will “buy” your friendship. No, seriously. “Like” as many companies as your little heart desires. Most have coupon tabs where you can go print coupons.
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  • Samples: Startsampling.com, Walmart, and AllYou are great places to sign up for free product samples. A lot of times, companies will also send along a coupon or two with the sample. Double score!!
  • Birthday clubs: Sign up for as many “Birthday Clubs” as you can find. Franchises will often send you a coupon for discounted or sometimes free items, just for being in their club.

Now onto organization…

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This part comes naturally to me because I like to be an organized control freak. Some others (cough…my sister..cough) have a huge pile of coupons just laying out on their dining room table. Again, do what works for you. But I’d dare to say that a lot of you readers are mommas pressed for time, so organizing your coupons could be a small way of giving yourself just a little sanity!

I use TWO forms of organization: an accordian file and a small coupon binder.

  • Accordian file: After I buy my two Sunday papers, I take out all the inserts and file them away by date. Once Jenny posts the sales ads for the week, I can see where she has mentioned a coupon and go find it. There’s no need to clip all the coupons out of the insert. File it away and use the saved time to take a bubble bath. Or, organize your tuna cans. Whatever.
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  • Small coupon binder: I use this binder on a daily basis. Printable coupons, catalinas, older insert coupons…they all get filed in this binder. I like to take my binder INTO the grocery store with me. That way, if I see something I just have to have (aka chocolate), I can look in my binder and see if I have a corresponding coupon. I organize this binder into sub-categories so finding a coupon while in the grocery store is quite easy.
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And that’s it – a crash course in beginner’s couponing. I hope that it gave you some insight into the world of couponing and how easy (and fun) it can be. Couponing has proven itself to be a great hobby for me. It can be EASY to get overwhelmed at first, but well worth your time. If you would like to ask me specific questions, shoot them to me at lindsaymwright@yahoo.com or visit Lindsay’s List.

Lindsay lives in North Carolina with her husband and two children.  When not playing house, she’s a personal trainer/fitness group instructor.  Her blog, Lindsay’s List, chronicles her daily life and advice on fitness, food and faith.


Check out Lindsay’s blog, too. I love it! I bet you’ll leave her blog feeling like you need to whiten your teeth and pull out your Denise Austin workout DVDs? No? Just me? Okay….. 


Thank so much, Lindsay!


If you would like to contribute to the series, shoot me an email at therookieyears{at}gmail{dot}com.


Have a blessed day!






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