Things you should always have in your coupon binder!

No matter what method you choose to use when it comes to storing coupons, there are some essentials which you’ll always need to bring with you when you do your shopping, besides the wallet, your coupons and your shopping list. Bringing these items listed below will help you to get all the deals right, calculate if a sale is a good one or a bad one and show the cashier at the register what the store chain has to say about coupons. Being in control, prepared and, above all, organized are the things which leads to success in most cases. What you need can vary a bit, but if you have all these things you’ll be ready if your phone should expectantly give up midway through your trip. If you don’t have a binder with a large pocket inside it to store these items, then having a large pencil case or small homemade bag made out of fabric, with a zipper on it, is the best thing to keep all your things in the same place. Place the bag in your purse or backpack and then make sure that it’s always there when you need it and always fully stocked. It may seem just a bit extreme to bring all these little things with you when you go shopping, but not bringing them will come back and bite you in the butt in the end. Nine out of ten times you might not even need to use most of the things in it anyway, so keep it tucked away until you actually need something from it, otherwise it’s just going to take up space in your hands or your cart. Nothing on this list have to be the most expensive thing either, buy simpler things from discount shops instead, unless you can get a good deal on a brand calculator or have a child who doesn’t need his or hers anymore – then use that one instead of buying a new one.

 

Good things to always keep in your binder

  1. A small pair of scissors

If you’re one of those people who doesn’t cut coupons before you’re in the shop, then you’re going to need to bring a small pair of scissors with you in your coupon bag and take the time to cut the coupons that requires cutting, before you hit the register. Cashiers have the right to refuse uncut, printed coupons. Remember to cut along fairly straight around the lines and do not clip the barcode. Damaging the barcode automatically makes the coupon invalid and it can’t be used at all if it is. There’s no point in bring a pair of large kitchen scissors, a small one designed for children is good enough and can be found for a pound at Poundland.

  1. Calculator + spare batteries

In this day and age most people have a smartphone with a calculator on it, but in my experience you will need to have a back-up ready, or have a calculator that you can easily whip out to do a fast calculation. Bringing a calculator is important just because you might find a deal that you’re not sure if is a good deal, that’s where the calculator comes in handy. You can quickly see if it’s good or bad. It can also calculate what your out of pocket expense will be after you’ve applied coupons and in store sales. Plus, a couple of batteries in a calculator lasts for weeks and weeks, if not months on end – unlike your typical smartphone which can hardly even play a five minute YouTube video without getting low on battery. With a dead phone you’re left to do sums in your head or on your calculator. Which one do you prefer? Be sure to keep a couple of spare batteries with you, just in case the calculator decides to give up in the middle of your shopping trip and double-check that they’re the right size. Don’t get the most expensive one you can find either, it’s not rocket science – a simple one will do just fine.

  1. A short ruler

Bringing a short ruler with you can help you when you’re going to cut those coupons and makes sure that you’re cutting them in a straight line. I find that they can be used if I need to grab something that’s on a high shelf and that I can’t really reach. Then I can just use the ruler to get it down and in my shopping cart. It’s a lifesaver for short people! Should you for any reason need to highlight something in a coupon policy or on a receipt, a ruler will help you make a nice, straight line.

  1. Pens and pencils

Having pens and pencils with you is essential. If your calculator and mobile phone fails then you have a method of calculating savings and find out if you’re getting a good deal. If you’re the type of person who likes to have your shopping list on a piece of paper, then having a pen is perfect if you suddenly remember something that you need and isn’t on the list, with a pen you can just add that new item to your list or cross something off that you’ve just put in the cart. Even if you’re not that type of person, see point G as to why you should have a printed list with you anyway. The receipt might contain an error too, with a pen it’s easier to underline what’s wrong or show what part you’ve got a question about. It’s a good idea to bring a couple each, just in case one pen or pencil breaks. You won’t be stranded without any way of communicating if you’ve packed an extra pencil.

  1. Coupon policies

Having printed coupon policies with you in your coupon binder or bag is pretty obvious and ensures that you’re covered and prepared if something happens at the register. Sometimes the cashier isn’t aware of what their policy says about coupons, or doesn’t understand what it means and if that happens – you’ll be ready to bring out the policy to politely explain what it says and what it means. Bringing a policy shows what the official stance of the company is. Be sure to print off the policy for each and every chain that you usually shop at and all the rest that are in your town and the closest surrounding ones. You never know when or where a good saving is going to appear, that’s why it’s safer to have each and every one printed, stapled and placed in your binder. Preferably in alphabetical order. To ensure that the correct policy is easily found, write the company name on top in a large font, in bold and underlined. Staple each policy together separately and then put them away in your binder.

  1. Extra plastic pockets

This is applicable only if you’ve chosen to file your coupons in a binder, like the ones you see the women and men on Extreme Couponing use. The shops will sometimes have coupons and if they do, get a few and nothing is more annoying than finding that you don’t have room to put them with the others. Sure, you could put them in your wallet, or worse – your pockets. But, realistically all that happens if you put the voucher in the wallet is that you’ll forget about their existence until the next year, when you decide it’s finally time to clean it out of old receipts, bus tickets and loyalty cards which you no longer use. Putting them in your pocket is even worse because they’re most like going to be torn, bent and washed, so make sure you file them or use them directly after getting them. Otherwise it’s just money down the drain to be honest.

  1. Pencil sharpener, eraser and extra leads

Should you bring pencils then you’re going to need a few accessories. Eraser, pencil sharpener and extra leads are essentials, if you use pencils with leads then the leads (in the right size!) are extra important. All these basic things are cheap at Poundland and other discount shops, especially during the Back-to-School season in August and September and this is the time to stock up on these items. Should your pencil break – you can sharp them. Did you misspell a word – erase it easily. Your pencil just ran out of leads – good thing you’ve got an extra pack in your binder. Extra ink can also be bought for pens and can be cheaper than buying a new pen, check your shops for different alternatives and what is most cost effective.

  1. Portable phone battery (charged!)

In this age a lot of people have smartphones and their batteries are, unfortunately, not always the best. In fact, a lot of times their batteries become bad quickly. Powerbanks are something I highly recommend that everyone invests in and they can be purchased for under 30£ per bank. The powerbank allows you to, when it’s fully charged, to charge you phone via USB and they’re well worth the investment. Just remember to keep them charged at all times, it’s just like charging your phone – plug them in a socket and you’re all set.

  1. A printed version of your shopping list

Should everything fail, your phone is dead and the powerbank isn’t with you and your shopping list is on the phone – then you’re in deep trouble. But, be proactive and have a printed shopping list with you in the coupon binder, tucked away and ready to be used if the occasion should arise. Date the list to keep it from getting mixed up with older lists! The list should, besides all the items you intend to purchase, list the number of each item you need, specified sizes and should be divided by store. Meaning that you should make a heading which says “Sainsbury’s” and under that you list everything you’re going to pick up from that shop and then moving on to the next shop and doing the same thing until you’ve listed all the shops and items on your list. The same should be done on your phone. Should you be one of the people who prefer to have physical list instead of a digital one, make sure it’s printed and not handwritten, handwritings can be difficult to read – even your own.

  1. Highlighter

A highlighter can seem a bit farfetched, but it can be really useful to have one at hand, this is particularly true when you’ve discovered an issue with your receipt or are explaining a part of the coupon policy to an employee. Like I stated in the previous chapter, you should always go through the receipt after you’re finished with your transaction just to make sure everything’s okay and if you find a mistake – use the highlighter to highlight it and then bring it over to customer services. It’s also a good way of highlighting something you’re trying to explain in a policy. Highlighters are always very good to stock up on during the Back-to-School season.

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Couponing terminology

In the world of couponing and saving money, there are lots and lots of special words that we use, that most people might not recognize.

Peel off coupon “peeile” – is a coupon that are stuck to a product and needs to be peeled off – hence the name “peelie”.

Catalina – Coupons that print at the register and can be for money off your next purchase, triple or double points, extra points or money off of a specific item or something like that.

Bogo – Buy one, get one (free/half price). It means that if you buy one item then you get another for free (or sometimes for half price)

Sale cycle – the cycle that shops use when they decide what items should go on sale and when. Different items have different sale cycles.

Stockpile (noun) – you pantry that’s full of items that you’ve bought for next to nothing to keep you until the next time you find coupons and/or the shop has it on sale.

Stockpile (verb – to stockpile is to buy a lot of things with coupons when the item is at its lowest sale price to make it last until the next time the price is good.

 

These are just a few words, but they are amongst the most important ones and I’ll update this as often as possible.

Couponing – a VERY quick and general guide!

Coupons are not new, but can be difficult to understand to a lot of people.

  • In the US of A a lot of coupons double, they don’t do that in the U.K at all.
  • You can use as many coupons as you like in a single transaction, however you can’t use more than one coupon for every item you purchase. Check the coupons, most of them say “limit of 1 coupon per purchase” or something similar.
  • You can buy as many items as you have coupons for. For example, I have two Fairy coupons for 1£ their washing up liquid. I can buy two and use one coupon for each bottle, since they’re two purchases.
    • However, you can combine the coupons with rewards from a chain. I have an offer from Sainsbury’s that says: Buy catfood X and get 200 nectar points. I also have a 2£ coupon for said catfood that I can use with that, since it’s NOT a coupon.
  • Make sure that you use the coupons within their dates. Use it before it expires.
  • Most coupons don’t exclude travel sizes or specify a certain size that you need to buy, for example: “This coupon is only valid on Fairy 750ml”.
    • If there are no size restrictions on the coupons, buy a smaller size to maximize your savings. I have a 75p of Head and Shoulders coupon that is valid on any size bottles. I’m going to use it at my local Sainsbury’s, since they have a 300ml bottle for 1£. After the coupon I’m going to pay 25p for a bottle of shampoo and I’ve got 2 coupons!
  • Read the coupon policies of your favourite shops and if you can’t find it – ask them via their website or on social media.
  • Also, make sure to check magazines, inserts and your Sunday newspaper for coupons – even free magazines and the back of your bus tickets can have sweet deals and coupons in them!
  • Buy the chain’s own magazine, they can often have coupons. Have a look through them first, just to be sure.
  • Join baby clubs if you’re expecting or have a child who wears diapers. The diaper companies often have clubs that lets you earn points, rewards and coupons on your diaper purchases. Check out Pampers website!

How to read a coupon:

A coupon/voucher will contain:

  1. X£ or Xp off
  2. What it’s valid on and/or what it excludes
  3. Valid for – an expiration date
  4. How many coupons you can use per purchase/transaction/household
  5. Your name
  6. Information to the shop on how they can redeem the coupon

If a coupon says:

  • 1 per purchase = you can use one coupon per item purchsed, so if you buy two of product X that means that you can use two coupons – one for each item.
  • 1 per transaction = You can only use one like coupon per transaction, but there’s nothing that stops you from buying three of the same thing, with coupons, in three seperate transactions
  • 1 per household = You may only use one coupon per household (you and your closest family – you, your partner and your children)

 

How to get coupons:

Be advised that you need to double check Extreme couponing and Money Saving Expert, since sometimes their coupons are invalid.

 

  • Check out the websites of your favourite brands and sign up for their newsletters. They can contain a lot of coupons!
  • Sign up to all the shops loyalty programs (Nectar, Tesco Clubcard, Morrisons…), that’s an awesome and free way of getting coupons.
  • Google is your friend. Google your favourite brands + vouchers and see what comes up.
  • Write letters to the brands you like and write REAL letters with pens and papers. Include what you like about them, why you buy them and maybe a suggestion of what you’d like them to make, improvements of their products or a new flavour. If you have children – have them draw pictures and send off to their favourites too. Companies likes that! If you have pets – send cute photos of your animals to the companies that makes the food they like. Be creative! A lot will send out a standard “thank you” letter, but some will send free stuff and/or coupons.
  • Join or create a coupon swapping group and swap coupons.

 

 

Have a look at YouTube for different people who coupon and explain it. Here are some great couponing people:

  1. Holly Vlogs (UK based)
  2. Hip2Save (USA)
  3. Southern Savers (USA)
  4. Krazy Coupon Ladies (USA)

 

I hope that this helps somewhat and please, ask if you have any questions.

What are coupons & why should you use them?

Coupons have been around for decades now, but few of us actually know how to use them, think that they’re something for old people or poor people. BUT! While it may be true that old people and people with limited means use them, middle class people use them too to help them save money and spend it on other things. Or, they’ve been inspired by a certain TV-show on TLC.

Have you watched Extreme Couponing on TLC or on the internet and now you want to do that for yourself, but don’t know where to begin? Well, look no further – this is The Poor Man’s Guide to the Galaxy’s very own “Couponing 101” crash course, which will teach you the foundations of couponing. Not extreme couponing like you see on the telly, but everyday couponing that will reduce your grocery bill by at least 40% every week – reasonable and responsible couponing! If you want to use these skills like the ladies (and gentlemen) of the TV show, go for it – just remember to not clear the shelves while you’re at it.

A coupon is a piece of paper (or a piece of data on you mobile) that has a specific value of a certain product or a range of products from a manufacturer, all specified on the coupon itself. Let’s say that you have a coupon worth 1£ off Pixie washing up liquid Platinum and the bottle costs 2.50£. That means that you get a 1£ rebate if you have the coupon scanned by the cashier at the checkout. The bottle will, after the coupon is applied, cost you £1.50 instead. However: you can’t cash in the coupon all by itself without purchasing the product that it’s valid on, as it holds no value without the product. It’s like a gift card, you can use it in the shop, but not exchange it for hard cash. Every coupon has a different value and ranges anywhere from 20p and up to about 1£. Those are the regular coupons and anything beyond that is called “high value coupons” because of their higher value. The high value ones are rarer and don’t get distributed as often as the lower valued ones. Coupons are also often called vouchers in the U.K.

These days you can find coupons of off anything, basically, from milk to microwaves and the sky’s the limit on the types of coupons that are out there. But why should you be using them on your groceries? Most people I meet say that it just doesn’t pay to clip, look for, print and use the coupons – they don’t save anything, or a minimal amount! Well, then you’re using them wrong. It’s like with anything, you need to educate yourself on how to use this to your advantage, which the vast majority don’t do. But, with the easy steps that I’m going to show you in this educational series you can save at least 40-50% on your grocery bill, without even feeling like it’s a lot of work. Honestly, who wouldn’t like to spend less for more? This doesn’t even mean that you have to compromise on what you normally eat, it just means a bit more planning but other than that – nothing changes. You can even use vouchers to save on other things that groceries; travel, holiday, everyday things like coffee (or covfefe…), going to the cinema, fast food etc. You can live a full life, with more savings to spend on other things; paying of your mortgage at a higher rate, pay your debts faster, student loans can be memory much faster and you can start building a savings account for your retirement or unexpected costs.

 

According to my calculations I’ve saved about 1200£ since I started using coupons 3 years ago; that’s 400£/year! And you could do even better!

 

 

Presenting: The Poor Man’s guide to Coupons – season 1!

It is done! I can now proudly present season 1 of my upcoming blog series: The Poor Man’s Guide to Coupons – season 1 

It will be a beginners guide to using coupons as a person with limited means and not like all the middle class people you see on YouTube! The first season will be dedicated to the basic principals of couponing. I can also announce that there WILL a second season with even more basics and busting a couple of the most common myths about Couponing and extreme Couponing.

I can also give you an “Episode Guide” or a “Chapter List” of this season.

Episode Guide / Chapter List

  1. What are coupons (and rebates) and why should you be using them?
  2. Different types of rebates, coupons and deductions and how to combine them
  3. The store’s own rebate-, loyalty-, and club card. Why you SHOULD use them!
  4. Where do I get coupons?
  5. How to read coupons to avoid doing it wrong
  6. The shops’ sell cycles and own rebates in combination with your coupons.
  7. Different store chains = different coupon policies. Learn to read them and memorize the most important parts.
  8. Store your coupons correctly and keep them up to date
  9. Couponers Anonymous 
  10. Practical tips before, during and after a haul!

The first episode will be out in March!

How to save on holiday foods!

What you serve at your Christmas dinner depends on where you live, as well as when you celebrate it – on the 24th or the 25th of December. You might nog even celebrate Christmas, you might have Chanukka or some other holiday. But there will be food and it can often cost a lot of money to buy. How many of us doesn’t curse at the expenses of food during regular weeks? Imagine the costs during a major holiday. If you want to save, like I do, or can’t really afford the food – but still want to give your family a nice meal – then planning, coupons and the weekly ad will take you a long way. I’m going to give some general tips and then post some links to coupon sites.

I’m using Christmas as an example since I celebrate it, but the tips and tricks can be applied to any holiday.

 

Tips:

  • Like when you’re buying the holiday gifts, planning is everything. If you haven’t planned anything then you’re going to end up overspending, miscalculating dishes for the amount of people present, multiple and unnecessary trips to the shops.
  • Start planning any dinners/lunches where your extended family will attend at least 3-4 weeks in advance. Plan what dishes you will be serving, what the ingredients are and how much you need to make of each dish.
  • Remember to plan for the side dishes, condiments, snacks, sweets and drinks! It’s easy to remember mustard when you sit there at the dinner table and want some.
  • Lists are everything! Make lists of what you need to buy and group the ingredients after what type of food they are, for example:
    • Fruits
    • Vegetables
    • Condiments
    • Baking goods
    • Meats
  • When you make the lists, make sure to separate them buy shop chain as well! Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Aldi, Lidl, Tesco, Walmart, ICA, COOP, you name it!
  • Will anyone be staying be staying with you, other than your closest family (spouse and children)? They need food too!
  • Will it be a buffet, formal dinner or a regular meal? Each have their own advantage, but I’d recommend some type of buffet.
  • If you choose to have a buffet, first decide on what dishes you’re going to be serving or assign a dish to each guest (if you’re having them). If guests are bringing some of the dishes, you all save on food!
  • Shops usually start marketing their Christmas food at least 6 weeks before Christmas. Take advantage of this and start buying what you know you need. Some things we always have at Christmas, every single year, so why not buy them now and tick them off your list?
  • Always check the weekly ads in the shops closest to you! More often or not they have one or two Christmas foods on sale every week leading up to Christmas, make sure you buy them and always buy the full allowance. For example: you have a baked ham on your Christmas table and one week your shop allows you to buy 2 good sized hams for 10€. It’s one purchase per household. Buy those two hams, even if you know that you’ll only eat one. You can cook the other one too and have dinners and lunches for a rather long time after, if you freeze it.
  • Remember that manufacturers often put out a lot of coupons for their products during the holidays, since they want you to buy their products. Take a few coupons and save them. You should of course use some of them for the items that you need at the moment, if it gives you a good price, but after Christmas the shops often drops their prices to make room for new products. That means that you can score some incredible deals, and even freebies or money makers, if you took a couple of extra coupons when there were some.
  • If your shop allows overage – use it to buy the things that you can’t get coupons for
  • READ YOUR WEEKLY ADS LIKE IT’S THE BIBLE, PEOPLE!
  • Take a couple of hours to surf around for coupons and discounts and print as many coupons as you’re allowed.
  • Your shops usually have some kind of loyalty card. Make sure to sign up for that. That way you get instore coupons, deals and rebates. The instore coupons can be combined with a manufacturer’s coupon and make a product free, close to free or a money maker.

 

Links:

Coupons.com (US): https://www.coupons.com/

Grocery Coupon Network (US): https://www.grocerycouponnetwork.com/

Be frugal (US): http://www.befrugal.com/printable/restaurant/

Retail me not (US): https://www.retailmenot.com/coupons/fastfood

Coupon Mama (UK): https://couponmamauk.co.uk/

Money Saving Experts (UK): http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/deals/supermarket-coupons

Extreme Couponing (UK): http://www.extremecouponing.co.uk/

Extreme Couponing & Deals (UK): https://excoupuk.com/

Super Savvy me (UK): https://www.supersavvyme.co.uk/offers/coupon

Hot UK deals (UK): http://www.hotukdeals.com/groceries

Hip2Save (US): http://hip2save.com/

Southern Savers (US): http://www.southernsavers.com/

Today’s Haul

I went to the shop today and got the best deals of this week! I was supposed to get ecological yogurt as well, but they were out and won’t have any until tomorrow, so I’m going back then. I also bought the wrong brand of soda, I accidentally bought the one that wasn’t on sale – so I need to change that as well.

Not everything I bought is in the picture, but almost. This week I got:

  • 2 bags of spaghetti for 10kr/bag (1kg/bag) (1€/bag)
  • 2 packs of chicken nugget from Max. These are DELICIOUS, buy them if you can – they are terrific! They only cost 35kr/box (3.50€/box)
  • 2 toothbrushes, 2 for 15kr (1.50€/2)
  • 1kg ecological carrots 10kr (1€)
  • Soda 5kr/bottle (50 cents/bottle)
  • 2 loaves of bread 10kr/loaf (1€/loaf)

This will last me a while, along with the other food I bought last week.