couponing without stress

How to start couponing in 2017 without stress

The presents have been opened; you've thrown away the mountain of wrapping paper. While everyone is enjoying their new loot, are you starting to worry about the bills? Did you put any of your holiday expenses on credit cards? If so, you're not alone.

You sit down and try, again, to make a budget. Quickly, you realize your expenses are equal to your income, and the stress begins. Next, you find that your expenses cannot easily be reduced. So, where do you start?

Take a look at your food budget

How much do you spend each month on food? Figure out exactly how much you spend on groceries and dining out. Include coffee stops, convenience store snacks,  and lunch expenses. When I started budgeting, I was shocked to realize my family of 6 was spending over $1200 monthly on food and beverages.

Using the methods in the eBook, I now average between $400-600 spent each month.As a result,  I was able to get out of debt in part by cutting my grocery bill in half.

If you cut your food budget in half, how much would you save?

What would you do with your savings? Pay off debt, save for a vacation, start planning for retirement?

Download The Coupon Mentor eBook and get started today and see how much you can save!

couponing myths

Myths everyone believes about coupons

couponing myths

Using coupons means you will have to switch brands.

  • There are tons of ways to find coupons for the brands you currently use. Yes, branching out and trying new brands can be beneficial but there are no limitations to couponing.

 The stores lose money when you use coupons.

  • The stores love it when you use coupons, though it's true that not all cashiers realize this to be true. Stores of often paid bonuses based on how many units they move. Target runs "buy 3, get a $5 Gift Card" deals because it's profitable to do so.

 You will have to change stores to use coupons.

  • Most stores offer coupon deals. You should be able to successfully coupon at 98% of stores.

Couponing takes too much time.

  • Couponing can take a lot of time, especially if you don't know where to get started. The fact is, using coupons doesn't need to take that much time. If you're struggling to get started, check out: The Coupon Mentor ebook.

Couponing costs you more money than it saves.

  • Using coupons can be a bit addicting, and chasing deals may start to overwhelm you. As long as you make a plan and stick to it, you will be successful. Do not buy 20 boxes of cereal no one in your family will eat just because you can score it for $0.35 a box.

Some truths about coupons

  • Using coupons can help you pay off your debt.
  • There is a huge, supportive community in the world of couponing.
  • Coupons are a quick and easy way o save money.

 

freedom from debt

How you can pay off 8K in debt in 120 days

pay off debt for financial freedom

I think it's safe to say that almost everyone has debt. You may have more than others, and that's okay. If you're in debt and trying to get out here are some easy solutions. I am not going to include getting a job (or second job), these ideas are geared towards someone that's already working as much as possible, or perhaps is a stay-at-home parent.

Get out of debt, without leaving your house

  • Of course, I am going to start this list with coupons. I save a minimum of $400 each month by using coupons and stockpiling. The money I save each month goes right back into my budget for other things. I cannot stress enough how much money using coupons can save you. 
  • Pick one luxury item and give it the ax. Giving up something you love it never fun, but it can make a big difference. Dining out once a week, for instance, can cost a family of four $50+ easily. That's $200 per month you could be saving. Cutting out coffee or soda is another place with a lot of savings potential. 
  • Next, you should go through your budget with a fine tooth comb. Look for any services you can live without and cancel them. Call your cell phone, Internet, and cable providers and work out a discounted rate. Reduce your data plan, channels, etc.. Most providers will offer you a discounted rate if you extend your contract.
  • Pick one online money maker, such as Swagbucks, and stick with it. Your rewards can quickly pile up. I average around $60-75/monthly in Swagbucks rewards. You do not need to apply or be approved, you do not need to spend any money to get started, and it's easy to make a little bit extra money from home. 

Diving a little deeper

  • Do you have anything in your house sitting in a pile waiting to be donated or sold? Round up all the things in your house that you no longer use or want and sell them online. Use Craigslist or local FB selling groups to avoid sellers fees. I was able to make several hundred dollars selling old stuff. I took it one step further by asking friends and family if they had any items they wanted to sell. By charging a reasonable seller's fee, I was able to make money while offering a useful service to my friends.
  • If you find that you like selling things, start an Etsy or eBay account. For a small amount of money upfront, you can start a successful eBay business. You can sell items you already have, or you can purchase items from a store like Marshall's, and return anything that doesn't sell. If you have the ability to make handmade items or digital items, Etsy can be very lucrative.
stacking coupons how-to

Warning: you’re losing money by not stacking coupons

Have you ever browsed through deal breakdowns only to be totally confused? Me, too.

You've probably noticed the world of coupons has a language of its own. Check out my coupon lingo cheatsheet if you haven't yet. Good news: once you get the hang of the chatter, it is very easy to follow along. 

Today I'm going to explain coupon stacking. Stacking coupons will bring your savings potential to the next level. Stacking coupons, or deals, together in one transaction allows you to save big time. 

Target

Let's start with Target. If you haven't yet, download Target's Cartwheel app. Not only can you stack a Cartwheel (CW) offer with a manufacturer's coupon (Q), but you can add in a Target coupon (TQ). Here is a deal example using coupon stacking at Target:

stacking coupons deal example breakdown

Ibotta

Ibotta is a money-saving-app. Once you have it downloaded, select the store you plan to shop at, browse offers, and unlock the deals you want. Stack an in-store deal, a manufacturers coupon, and an Ibotta offer for significant savings. You'll find that there are many apps similar to Ibotta. Download as many as you feel you can manage. App offers can also be stacked. You can use an Ibotta offer and Checkout 51 offer on the same item. 

Related post: How money saving apps can be your secret weapon

Price matching is when a store reduces their price to match, or sometimes even beat, their competitor's price. To take advantage of price matching, you will have to talk to your cashier or service desk. Every store has a different policy on price matching so be sure to do your research. Price matching can turn a good deal into an unbelievable deal, use it to your benefit any time you can.

Have you already joined the CVS loyalty program? CVS offers their rewards via "extra care bucks" (ECB). Stacking coupons, sales, and ECB at CVS will help you achieve a nice stockpile at rock bottom prices. 

Many other stores, such as Walgreens and Rite Aid, will allow you to stack coupons. Don't forget to check out your local grocery store for their policies. 

Some Coupon Stacking No-No's

Stacking coupons has some limits. 

  • You can never stack two manufacturer coupons on one item. If you're buying one box of tissues, you can only use one coupon. If you're buying multiple items, you can use multiple coupons. Most coupons have a limit of four like coupons per transaction. Read your coupons fine print before heading to the store. 
  • Target will not always allow you to use a Cartwheel offer in combination with price matching. In my experience, this is highly dependent on which Target you shop at and what cashier you use. If your deal depends on stacking CW and price matching, be prepared to be shot down. You can always try another Target. 
coupon tips the experts swear by

How to Save Money, Couponing tips the experts swear by

coupon tips the experts swear by

1. Keep your coupons organized. Knowing which coupons you have and where they are will save you time and energy.

2. Choose a few local stores and learn their coupon policies inside and out. Be polite to the cashiers and try to build a good relationship with them. If the local clerks see you and become filled with dread, couponing successfully will not be easy. Be firm but polite.

3. Find reliable and affordable coupon sources. Whether you purchase whole inserts, single coupons, or only use printables, make sure you are using the best source. You may find that you're overpaying for your coupons. Your overall savings will be affected by how much you spend on your coupons so be sure not to overspend. 

4. Money saving apps are getting easier and easier to use. You should download and use as many of these apps as you can reasonably manage. You can also take advantage of referral bonuses with some of these apps; help your friends save money and put a little green back into your own pocket! 

Save money for better things!

5. Keep track of any Catalina's, gift cards, or other bonuses you earn. Don't reach $19 in rewards on Ibotta and then abandon the app. If you do a deal that earns you $10 in CVS Extra Care Bucks, make sure you spend them. Make sure whatever rewards you're working towards, or have already earned, get used.  

6. Loyalty Programs will be your new BFF. If you do nothing else towards using coupons, make sure you take advantage of your store's loyalty program. Not all stores use loyalty cards but those that do tend to offer significant savings for their users. You'll find that many of these cards offer extra bonuses, such as gas rewards, that you can earn.

7. Keep track of your savings. Have you ever wondered how much money couponing saves you? Tracking your savings will shed some light on the big picture. Verify that you're not overspending on "good deals" that you don't need, coupon purchases, or chasing run deals. You may find that tracking your savings helps keeps you motivated! I love seeing how much I saved each month.

Couponing Should be fun!

8. Having a coupon buddy can make all the difference. Everything is more fun with a friend and couponing is no exception.  Share deals, coupons, and even fails. If you can't find a friend local to you, the internet is jammed packed with possible friends. Making connections makes couponing twice the fun.

9. If you are looking for an easy way to find deals, look no further; social media is a fantastic resource. Check out Instagram hashtags, FaceBook groups, and even Snapchat for deal breakdowns.  My personal favorite is browsing #targetdeals on Instagram.

10. Your goal should be to do as much of the work and planning before you ever leave home. You should make your list, find your coupons, and check your store inventory online before setting out. If you're using apps, choose and unlock rebates. There will be times you will find a spur-of-the-moment deal, but for the most part, preplanned shopping will result in the most savings. 

coupon tips

6 things that trip you up in the world of coupons (and how to avoid them)

coupon tips

1. Missing out on the deal

 DO:                                                                                                                                                                      

Whenever possible, you should always call the store before you make a trip.  You may be successful in having a store hold an item for you for a short time. Not all stores will reserve things, but it doesn't hurt to ask. If your store has an online inventory checker, use it. 

DON'T:                                                                                                                                                                        

Wait. If the deal is hot, and you've seen it shared online, so has everyone else. If you see a "Run Deal," realize that it's most likely a limited time offer. 

2. Coupon Burnout

 DO:                                                                                                                                                                           

Decide what type of deals are worth chasing, and stick to those. You might determine that a 75% off deal on dog food is worth an unplanned trip to the store, but saving 50% on cereal might not be worth the trouble. 

DON'T:                                                                                                                                                                        

Chase all the deals. You will get frustrated, tired, and completely burnt out. You'll spend more money in gas, plus time and energy than you save.

3. Overspend on coupons

 DO:                                                                                                                                                                                

Choose your coupon sources wisely. You should research what coupons are coming out each week and only purchase inserts when you are sure you will be able to recoup the cost. Ask friends and family for their unused coupons. You can save money on printable coupons by buying your paper and printer ink online. 

DON'T:                                                                                                                                                                             

Buy multiple copies of papers. If you are not getting a significant deal on your Sunday papers, purchasing multiple copies won't be your best bet. You should not buy any coupons you're not sure you are going to use. If you're buying whole inserts, make sure you'll use enough of the included coupons to cover your initial cost. Research online sellers before making a coupon purchase. Getting scammed never feels good. 

4. Build up a stockpile of junk

 DO:                                                                                                                                                                                

Build a stockpile of products that you know you and your family will use and enjoy. I love keeping a stockpile of tissues, paper towels, shampoo, laundry detergent, cereal, and snacks. 

DON'T:                                                                                                                                                                             

Buying things just because they're on sale can come back and bite you. I still have six bottles of L.A. Looks hair gel and four bottles of fancy, pickled olives on my stockpile shelves that I will never use. I got a great deal on those items, but they were still a waste of money.

5. Losing money/deals with apps

 DO:                                                                                                                                                                                

Choose your apps wisely. If your deal depends on a money saving app, make sure you don't miss the offer. You should consider making an App Cheat Sheet that includes how to redeem offers, the minimum payout amount, and any other relevant details.

DON'T:                                                                                                                                                                             

Forget to scan your receipts. By the time I get home from shopping, I often just want to sit down. I have missed out on offers by not scanning my receipts promptly. Some apps have limited quantities of offers so don't delay. 

6. Comparing yourself to others

 DO:                                                                                                                                                                                

Keep track of your savings. Make sure you're meeting your savings goals and staying within or under your budget.  

DON'T:                                                                                                                                                                             

Beat yourself up because you saved 45% on your grocery bill but someone else posted that they saved 65%. Try not to compare your savings with others. Couponing is not a competition. 

If you have any tips we should add, let us know by commenting below.

save money grocery shopping

Save $400 a month on groceries

easily save money on groceries

Do you wish you could save money on your groceries? If your grocery bills seem to increase, while your paycheck stays the same: it's time to make a change.

"How can I lower my grocery bill?"

  • Coupons are getting easier and easier to use. Once a week, head to our printable coupons page and print any coupons you think you may use. 
  • Research your local stores for the best coupon policies. Look for a store that doubles or even triples manufacturer coupons. 
  • Get serious about finding the best deals. Your store's weekly flyer should be you new BFF. Using the weekly flyer, look for store offered deals you can pair with your coupons. The best deals happen when you can stack coupons with store offers.
  • Sign up for your store's loyalty program or rewards card. Many stores offer better pricing for cardholders. Research the program your store uses. Take advantage of digital coupons through your store's website.
  • Download and utilize money saving apps. Try Ibotta, MobiSave, and SavingStar to start. Check out detailed reviews of these apps here.

"What other ways can I save money?"

  • Stockpile. Take advantage of red hot deals by purchasing in bulk. You should consider buying a three month supply of laundry detergent when your store offers it at a significantly discounted price instead of buying only one bottle. 
  • Take advantage of store's price matching policies. Benefiting from price matching is easy at larger stores such as Target or Walmart.
  • Sign up to receive saving alerts from the coupon mentor, and never miss a hot deal again.
money saving apps

How money saving apps can be your secret weapon

money saving apps

Money saving apps can increase your shopping savings tenfold. You'll find that most of the apps require just a bit of effort, selecting offers and scanning in receipts. My favorite apps are linked to your loyalty card and don't even require receipts to be scanned. Read on to find out all about the best money-saving apps out there. 

Using money savings apps successfully

You've most likely already heard about Ibotta. Ibotta is straightforward and simple to use. You'll need to unlock the rebates you're interested in, usually by watching a short video. After purchase, scan the product barcode and your receipt to get credit. You'll find that Ibotta consistently has the most offers available. Ibotta currently supports over 300 stores and offers the ability to link your rewards card with your Ibotta app. You'll have three payout options: PayPal, Venmo, or various gift cards. Ibotta offers teamwork bonuses. 

 

 SavingStar is an easy-to-use app that will let you rack up the savings. You'll appreciate the low minimum payout of $5. When you're ready to cash out you'll have the option of PayPal, a bank check, your Upromise account, or various gift cards. SavingStar offers a variety of offers, including some that you can earn over time. When you're ready to use SavingStar, simply select the rebates you want, purchase the items, and you're all set. You may find that the rebates are slow to roll in. Since SavingStar links to your rewards cards, you do not need to upload receipts for most stores. 

MobiSave is easy to use and has some pretty significant perks. For starters, you'll love that they don't have a minimum payout. Another bonus is that they pay instantly through PayPal. They also don't restrict you to certain stores. Their rebates work anywhere you can buy the product. MobiSave usually has the smallest amount of offers at any given time, but it's still a worthwhile app that's definitely worth checking out.

Checkout 51 is a solid money-saving app. When you reach $20, you can cash out and they'll mail you a check. Checkout 51 offers are available in a limited quantity. Meaning that if you don't use the rebate quickly enough, you could lose the opportunity. To avoid disappointment, you should load offers right before you shop, and upload the receipt as soon as possible after purchase.

what things should you avoid?

You'll want to avoid trying to redeem every rebate offered. Don't let yourself start buying things that you don't need or want just because it's a good deal. You'll end up with a pile of things you don't want and can't use.  You may not realize it but it will actually cost you a lot of money to chase each and every deal. Make sure you are adding rebates before you are at the store. Most apps require that you add rebate prior to the time of purchase. 

What are you favorite money saving apps? Comment below and let us know!

The Coupon Mentor is not affiliated with ibotta, SavingStar, MobiSave, or Checkout 51. 
inserts vs printables

Inserts vs. Printables: Which is Better?

inserts vs printables

If you're wondering if you need to buy inserts or if you should focus on printables you're not alone. One reason my first attempt at couponing failed is because I was trying to do it all. I was asking friends, family, and strangers for their inserts. I was trying to download every coupon available on the internet on any given day. Realizing how much time, energy, and money I was wasting, I knew something had to change.

What is right for you?

Let's talk about each kind of coupon. 

Inserts

If you're purchasing Sunday newspapers to get your inserts, you are probably spending too much. You'll need at least 4 of each coupon to take advantage of the best deals. If you're trying to build a stockpile, you'll need even more. You can also get inserts by asking friends and family, contacting your local recycling center, or asking local businesses if you can have their leftover papers on Monday mornings. You can also buy inserts on facebook or Instagram. If you're purchasing in bulk from someone on the internet, please be sure you check their feedback first.

Coupon inserts are regional. What one person gets in their SmartSource might not be what is included in yours. You may become frustrated when you're trying to follow a deal breakdown but simply don't have the right coupons. If you know about a deal ahead of time, you can try to order inserts that include the specific coupons you need. I always go wild when Target has a deal on Iams. I will order at least 20 inserts with the correct coupon because I know my savings will more than cover the cost of the inserts. 

Internet Printables

My coupon of choice would have to be internet printables. I find that they are easier, cost  less money, and just fit my style a bit better. Since you will be limited to two prints per computer or device, having  2 or more computers is key. Buy your printer ink and paper in bulk at excellent prices if you are going to be printing a lot of coupons. You may find that a downside to internet printables is that they can be there one day and gone the next. Because of this, you will end up printing quite a few coupons that you don't end up using in time. I suggest heading over to our internet printables page every few days and printing any coupons you think you may use. If you wait until a deal pops up to print them, they may already be gone. 

Your best option is probably to use a mix of both options. If you're feeling overwhelmed, though, it can be easier to start with one or the other. You may want to try both kinds and see what works best for you. Do you prefer inserts or printables and why? Post a comment below and let us know!

coupon lingo

Ultimate Cheat Sheet for Coupon Lingo

coupon lingo

No matter how long you've been in the coupon world, you've undoubtedly come across a lot of acronyms and coupon lingo you weren't quite sure about. You should try to learn as much of this new language as possible. You will be seeing a lot of coupon lingo and acronyms in deal breakdowns and being able to quickly understand it will make your life much easier.

APPS

CW - Cartwheel - Target's coupon app
SS - SavingStar
MS - MobiSave
C51 - Checkout 51

COUPONS

Catalina - A coupon that prints out with your receipt.
DGQ - Dollar General Coupon
DND- Does not double
ECB - CVS Extra Care Bucks
IP - internet printable
MQ - Manufacturers coupon
P&G - Procter and Gamble Coupon Insert
Q - coupon
RP - Red Plum
SS - SmartSource
TQ - Target Coupon

GENERAL

BD - Breakdown
BOGO - Buy one, get one
DPCI - This is Target's product identifier number
DG - Dollar General
GC- gift card
MM - Money Maker!
OOP - Out of Pocket
wyb - when you buy
YMMV - Your mileage may vary

If you have something that should be added to this list, leave a comment below!