Couponing 101: Chapter 1

Couponing 101: Chapter 1

So maybe you’ve just watched TLC’s exciting new show Extreme Couponing and you want to get your foot in the door to the amazing world of couponing. Maybe you’ve tried couponing in the past, but think it’s only helpful if you buy name brand products. So, where do you start? Well, the majority of coupons out there are for name brands, but with a little coupon knowledge and some tricks of the trade, those name brand items will be much less than your everyday store brands, and in some cases, even FREE!

Learning how to become a couponer, or sprucing up your current skills, can take time. Unlike the shoppers on TLC’s show, most of us do not have hours and hours to prepare for one trip to the store. However, we can allot about 30-45 minutes to clip coupons.

Yesterday, I went on my first couponing trip. I didn’t prepare much because I wasn’t planning for a trip to the store; I spontaneously decided to go. Here’s how it went:

I split my shopping between a local grocery chain and pharmacy chain – Dillons and Walgreens. Dillons does not do double coupons anymore, but they make couponing very easy through the use of a Dillons Plus Card. Just register your card on the store website and load the coupons directly to your card. No printing, no cutting, just easy! Don’t forget! You can also save additional money on specific products just by using your Plus Card!

Couponing at Walgreens is a little more difficult, because you can’t load the coupons to a card. However, you can find some great deals if you look hard. You can combine manufacturer and store coupons with weekly sales to find some amazing prices. They also have register rewards and rebates which print out with your receipt. For example, I bought a Gatorade Prime Bar, Gatorade Perform drink, and Gatorade Recover drink for $5 total and I got a $5 mail-in rebate. The 43 cents in sales tax and cost of a stamp (to mail the rebate) was the bulk of my spending. Here’s how the deal worked:

Buy ALL 3 (in a single transaction) and Earn $5 Mail-In Rebate (Limit 1)
(1) Gatorade Prime $1.50
(1) Gatorade Perform $1
(1) Gatorade Recover $2.50
= $5 – Send in for $5 Mail-In Rebate (prints with receipt)
= 3 FREE!

So, my shopping trip totaled $230. After coupons and rebates, I spent only $160. Considering this was my first couponing trip (and my fiancé was buying stuff that was NOT on sale), 30% savings was quite an accomplishment! I am really looking forward to my next trip. I will have to find more coupons and take more time to prepare!

First Trip 4/12/11: Shopped at Dillons and Walgreens – 30% Savings

Next Trip’s Goal – 50% Savings

For more exciting tips on how to save, you can visit

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