Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Couponing 101: S.M.A.R.T Couponing

Alright, it is time to resume with Couponing 101 and now will take up a notch. In the previous lessons, we have discussed coupon types and how to be organized in order to score the best deals. Today, we are going to discuss my S.M.A.R.T couponing process that will help you further to save.

First, do you consider to already be a SMART couponer? I am sure most of us would say, YES, to this question but I am sure you are leaving behind money in the register that could easily be in your wallet. To help guide you to the maximum savings, I have developed this acronym to help you out and to help you be a S.M.AR.T er couponer and one that will see increased savings.

"S" stands for shopping the local store ads. Do you get a Sunday paper each week? If not you are likely missing out. I realize most, if not all, stores these days put their ads on the internet; however, I still find it have to get my arms around the deals properly without the print ad in front of me. This way I can easily read the sales details and fine print. Plus, I can circle the deals that I am interested in and clearly mark my targets. Whether you are like me and like the print ads or prefer them on the computer, I highly encourage you to make it a weekly routine to review each store's ad, carefully. This way you will reduce the likelihood of missing out on a deal that could save you in the long run.

"M" stands for match-up, more specifically, ad match up. Simply, an ad match up is where you take the current ad and match the deals to available coupons to maximize the savings. I try to provide you will several key store's ad match ups but I know I can't cover them all. The ones I try to make sure to narrow in on are: Publix, Walgreens, CVS and Target because they tend to have the best deal opportunities from week-to-week. However, Kroger, Walmart and RiteAid can be good, too. In addition, there are several smaller grocers that can run great deals but due their smaller regional footprint it is harder for me to wrap my arms around them. This is why it is important that you take some time to try to do some ad match ups, yourself, for the ones you cannot easily locate. This is why it is SOOOOO important to BE ORGANIZED and is why I spent several earlier lessons on being such. To effectively be able to match ads up to your coupons you need to know the coupons you have. If you follow the "File Method", it is pretty easy to put together a ad match up. The one thing you need to have besides your coupons to aid you is a coupon database such as, A Full Cup, which I utilize. When you created a match up or follow a match up you will definitely begin to see your savings increase in you first buying trips.

"A" stands for "allocate" to a weekly grocery budget. Budgeting is HUGE in being an effective couponer. I will cover more on budgeting in a future lesson but in the mean time, you need to at least do the basic budgeting of setting a specific amount for your groceries per week. If you do this you will definitely see more money in your wallet and less of it in the cash register.

"R" stands for "research" and knowing the store's coupon policies. I can guarantee you that as you begin to do more effective couponing you will eventually get a checker, and likely the manager, too, that will be less knowledgeable of couponing procedures than you. But you will only be able to hold your own and prove yourself right if you know the coupon policy for the store. I recommend having the store's most recent coupon policy with you to aid in your case. this has happened to me several different times, mainly at department stores and less frequently at grocery stores. If you have a coupon binder make a page/section just for store coupon policies. Most of the store policies are available via the web so you can print them off and have them with you.. In fact, to make it even easier for you, I will create a section to include several store coupon policies s for you in order to keep them in one easy place to find.

"T" stands for "take" as in take part in store savings cards/loyalty programs and in take a calculator along with you. When you take part in the store's savings card and loyalty program you can save even more and even be rewarded with FREEbies. There are several programs out there so as we go along and become more specific with individual stores and how to save the most at each I will discuss their loyalty programs further and their benefits.

Lastly, taking a calculator may sound silly or basic but it will help. It helps you to be sure you are going to be staying within your budget and allows you to double check your deals when you are in the store to be sure you are scoring the best deal. Today, it is easy to take along a calculator because almost any cell phone has one on it to use.

I hope that being a S.M.A.R.T couponer will become easy and second nature for you and very quickly you will see the results in your wallet. Again, I will dig deeper into a few of these topics so be on the watch for futer Couponing 101 lessons!

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