Coupon Binders on a budget: under $9!

So you want a coupon binder, but you don’t want to spend $20-30 to purchase one?  No worries!  You can make one yourself for less than $9 this week when you take advantage of back to school deals!  The binder method is not for everyone and this will give you an opportunity to check it out without investing a lot of money if it doesn’t work for you!

Here’s the breakdown on the basic supplies you’ll want to purchase and the best deals I found this week:

-1″ Vinyl Round ring binders – $.50 at Office Depot this week

-Corner Office sheet protectors (10 ct) – 2/$1 w/ in ad coupon at Walgreens this week

-Corner Office or Wexford dividers – 2/$1 w/ in ad coupon at Walgreens this week

-PaperMate Write Brothers pens – $.29 w/ in ad coupon at Walgreens this week

-Penway or Wexford Carryall Pouch – 2/$1 w/ in ad coupon at Walgreens this week

25 Ultra Pro 9 Pocket Page Protectors for Baseball Cards – $5.82 (if you haven’t checked out Amazon Mom yet, you can sign up for FREE here and then you will get 2 day Prime shipping for free for 90 days!)

-Scissors – $.79 after $1 off Scotch coupon at Target

*You might also want to invest in a small calculator.  My Dollar Tree stores carry them and you may also be able to find them in the school supply section at Walmart for cheap.

Putting it all together:

1.  Keep your vinyl pouch with pens, a calculator, and scissors at the front of your binder for easy access

2.  Use your dividers or page protectors to create categories for organizing your coupons.  You can also use the page protectors for storing the weekly ads and your store’s coupon policies.  When deciding on what categories to use, it’s really a matter of trial and error and figuring out what works best for you.  When I first started, I was very broad and then, I ended up moving to very specific categories.

Here are some suggestions for sections in your binder:

-Store coupon policies (print these out and keep them at the front of your binder for easy access)

-A section for ECBs and RRs (again, I would keep these at the front for easy access, but that’s just my preference)

-Weekly store ads (you can either keep these in the side pocket if your binder has one or in page protectors)

-Categories for your coupons
*Baby care (if applicable)
*Groceries (this includes baking items, beverages, canned goods, dairy, frozen foods, meats, produce, snack items, etc. – when I used the binder method, I broke this down into smaller sections so I could find things easily)
*Health Care (this is things like band aids and over the counter medicine)
*Household (this would be things like cleaning supplies and paper goods, so you could break this down even more if you prefer)
*Personal Care (this is things like toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo/conditioner, make-up, and razors – when I used a binder, I always found it easier to break this down into smaller sections so I could find what I was looking for easily)
*Pets (if applicable)

Pros of the “binder” method:

-You always have all of your coupons when you need them!

-If you have well-organized categories, it’s easy to locate coupons

Cons of the “binder” method:

-It’s time consuming to clip and organize all of your coupons

-It can be bulky to carry around and can be difficult to keep track of if you’re trying to wrestle with kids and plan our your coupon trip, too!

The KEY to successful couponing is finding an organization system that works for you!  If you don’t think a coupon binder is for you right now, check out my post here on how you can get coupon organizers for just $1 at Target right now!

*This post may contain affiliate links. Please refer to my disclosure policy for more information

Couponing A to Z: Understanding the “Fine Print” on coupons!

For the next few weeks, I’ll be featuring a few posts each week as a part of a series called “Couponing A to Z” which will hopefully give you tips to get started with couponing!  Today I’m going to talk about how to understand the “fine print” on coupons.  If you haven’t already, check out the rest of my Couponing A to Z series here.

If you’re new to using coupons, you may be confused by some of the “fine print” terminology on those coupons.  Don’t worry – plenty of store employees are confused as well!  Here’s some scoop on “the fine print.”

Purchase vs. Transaction:  Typically in the fine print of coupons, you will see wording that says something to the effect of “Limit 1 per purchase” or “Limit 4 per transaction.”  The “purchase” refers to each item being purchased and means that you can only use one coupon per item.  This is the intent of this wording, but I have had to argue this point more times than I can remember with cashiers and store managers.  If there are limits per transaction, this means you can only purchase that amount of items in that transaction.  Many P&G coupons now contain wording that limits your purchases to 4 per transaction.  Most Target store printable coupons contain a “one per transaction” wording.  Some stores will allow you to do back to back transactions to get around this wording, but I typically don’t try to push this because I want to have good relationships with my stores.

Do Not Double:  Some coupons say “DND” or “Do Not Double” on them.  This does not necessarily mean that those coupons will not actually double.    I know this is INCREDIBLY confusing!

Here’s a coupon for reference purposes:

On the lower left hand side, you’ll notice a code along the bottom that starts with a “5″  From my experience, even if the coupon says “do not double/triple” at the top, if the code at the bottom starts with a “5″ your coupon will still double.  (The code on this coupon starts with a “5″)

If the code at the bottom starts with a “9″ then the coupon will not double/triple.  Most of the “blinkie” coupons you find in the machines in grocery stores start with a “9″ and will not double or triple.

Please keep in mind that doubling or tripling coupons is usually a store promotion and the store absorbs the cost, so a store may choose to double or triple coupons even though it says “Do Not Double.”  To find out if our stores will double or triple these coupons, it will basically be a matter of trial and error.  Try it with one and see if it works!

To find out more about how to double and triple coupons, check out this post here.

*This post may contain affiliate links. Please refer to my disclosure policy for more information


Couponing A to Z: Are Coupon Clipping Services “worth it”?


In my weekly match-up posts, I frequently reference coupon clipping services.  I have had several people ask me about why I “pay money” to buy coupons. To them, it seems counterproductive. I can understand why, on the surface, it might seem that way, but actually using a coupon clipping service to stock up on “hot” coupons helps me to build my stockpile and save a LOT of money in the long run.

For example, if I pay $1-2 for 10-20 coupons to get 10-20 items for free or close to free that are regularly priced at $1 each, I’m saving $8-10 and I won’t need to buy these items until they are on sale again!

In most areas, a Sunday paper ranges from $2-$2.50 in price.  You could buy multiple copies of the Sunday paper, but then you probably end up with a lot of coupons that you don’t need and a lot of extra work for yourself clipping all those coupons.  Using a coupon clipping service saves time and is more cost effective for me.

How do I know which coupons to stock up on?

Typically, from my experience, if there are coupons in the Sunday inserts, a sale will follow.  So, if there is a coupon in the Sunday paper for an item that your family uses regularly, it’s a good idea to purchase some extras.

If there are “high dollar” or “free” coupons for items your family uses regularly, these are also great coupons to stock up on.  Examples of recent coupons I have stocked up on include the $4 Gillette razor coupons..

How do I know which coupon clipping services are reliable?

Word of mouth is a great resource!  You want to look for coupon clipping services with a good track record overall and good turn around time.  You may also want to consider location and factor that in to how long it might take to receive your coupons.

Here are three coupon clipping services that I have used and had good experiences with:

*Collectable Coupons – There is a minimum purchase amount of $2.75 to place an order.  Turn around time is quick and prices are traditionally lower than some of the other coupon clipping services.

*My Coupon Hunter ~ This is my favorite coupon clipping service.  She has a subscription only service now – you can read more about that here.  She ships from Florida.

The Coupon Clippers
*The Coupon Clippers ~ This was the first coupon clipping service I ever used, but their prices tend to be higher than the other two services and there are minimum order requirements ($3.94 including shipping/handling), so I don’t order from them much anymore.  She ships from Florida.

How exactly do these coupon clipping services work?

The services receive a large number of inserts each week and you pay them a small fee (usually $.05-.40 depending on the coupon) to collect and send the coupons to you.  You go in and select the coupons you want, pay the shipping and handling fees, and your coupons arrive within a few days!

It seems like the good coupons are always gone – Why can’t I find the coupons I want and need?

Like everything else, there are “supply and demand” issues and if there are hot coupons, they usually go quickly.  Most coupon clipping services post their coupons early on Saturday (and sometimes even on Friday night), so it’s good to learn when they post their coupons and place your order early to make sure you get what you want.  The Sunday coupon preview is usually posted by Thursday or Friday, so you can also get a “heads up” on what coupons you want to get your hands on that week!

*This post may contain affiliate links. Please refer to my disclosure policy for more information.

Need coupons? Check out My Coupon Hunter!

There are no inserts or coupons in the paper this week.  If you want to get great coupons that have been available in previous inserts, you should check out My Coupon Hunter.  People often ask me where I get my coupons from – My Coupon Hunter is my preferred coupon clipping service!  I don’t even have a subscription to the Sunday paper anymore because she makes it so easy to get coupons from the weekly inserts!

Unlike other coupon clipping services, My Coupon Hunter offers a subscription service.  Subscriptions are valid for 90 days and you can get a subscription plan for as low as $5!

How does a subscription plan work?

You pay a flat rate based on the number of coupons you will use. The subscriptions are good for 90 days, but if you need an extension because you haven’t used all of your coupons in 90 days, she is willing to work with you if you e-mail her!  She keeps track of the coupons you order and once your subscription is completed, it will not renew automatically.  You will receive an e-mail when you have used all of the coupons available under your subscription and can decide whether or not you want to renew your subscription.  but if you need an extension just email me and let me know. Nothing is done automatic.  There is a limit of 50 “like” coupons per week.

The following subscription plans are available:

-25 coupons for $5

-60 coupons for $10

-100 coupons for $15

-200 coupons for $25

-500 coupons for $50

-800 coupons for $75

-1000 coupons for $80

What are the benefits?

-You can order multiples of certain “hot” coupons to help you build your stockpile!

-You can order what you want when you need it!

-You don’t have any minimum purchase requirements and you don’t have to pay shipping and handling fees (most other coupon clipping services require both)

I have been ordering my coupons from My Coupon Hunter for a year and a half now and I have never had a bad experience.  Her turn around time is fast and her customer service and communication is outstanding!

To find out more about using coupon clipping services, check out this post here.

*This post may contain affiliate links. Please refer to my disclosure policy for more information.

PLEASE NOTE:  I was not compensated by My Coupon Hunter for writing this post – I just love her service!


Tuesday Tips: What is “stacking” and “overage”?

If you’re new to using coupons, you may be confused by terms such as “stacking” and “overage” that more seasoned couponers throw out!

Stacking refers to using a store coupon and a manufacturer’s coupon together for greater savings! Although you can only use one manufacturer’s coupon per item, some stores also have special store coupons and they will allow you to use their store coupons with a manufacturer’s coupon!

The stores that come to mind that offer special store coupons include:  Publix, Safeway, Target, and Walgreens.  You can find the Target coupons online (visit their website and scroll down to the bottom of the page where there is a link that says “Coupon”) and they also sometimes send out special mailers.  Safeway has “super coupons” that are considered store coupons in their weekly ads.  Walgreens typically has store coupons in their weekly ad.  They also have a monthly coupon book that is usually found at the front of the store in the same area where the weekly ads are kept.  In addition, they often have additional specialized coupon books.  An example is the Infant Care booklet that is out currently.

PLEASE NOTE: There may be other stores that provide store coupons and allow stacking.  These are just the stores that I am familiar with!

Overage means that your coupon (or combination of store and manufacturer’s coupons) is more than the amount of the items that you are purchasing. Some stores will allow you to get cash back in these situations!  Walmart is the store that I can think of off the top of my head.  This is rare right now.  Most stores will adjust the amount of the coupon down to the amount of the item being purchased.  For example, if you are purchasing an item that is $.97 and you use a $1 coupon, they would adjust the amount of the coupon down to $.97.

In some cases, stores will not give you cash back, but you can apply the “overage” to other items in your cart.  This is especially true if you are combining store and manufacturer’s coupons.  If you are combining store and manufacturer’s coupons in a situation that would result in overage, make sure you are purchasing other items to “cover” the overage.  Also, always make sure that you give the manufacturer’s coupon first and the store coupon last.

For example, let’s say that Walgreens has Colgate toothpaste on sale for $1.97 and they have a $1 store coupon in their monthly coupon book and you also have a $1 manufacturer’s coupon.

Here’s the breakdown of how this would work:

Buy Colgate toothpaste – $1.97

Use $1 manufacturer’s coupon (give this first!)
Use $1 Walgreens coupon (give this last!)

Final Price = $.03 overage (This will only “work” if you have other items you are purchasing to “cover” the overage!  If you aren’t buying other items, the coupons would beep and they would adjust the price down)

*This post may contain affiliate links. Please refer to my disclosure policy for more information.