Dumpster Diving for Coupons

Dumpster diving for coupons is so fun.

Coupons can be found in more ways than buying newspapers. All towns have ‘paper only’ dumpsters in recycle areas of their landfill  or recycle centers. It’s a free country and as long as that bin isn’t on private property, you can jump right in and start your search for coupon inserts.

Even better. Send your kids in to do it.

My sister and I have put our kids in the dumpsters Continue reading


Couponing: Using Self-Checkout Lines

Self-checkout lines are the best thing that has happened to couponers.

I love self-checkout lines. They are the easiest and most efficient way to shop with coupons. Whenever possible, I encourage you to do so also.

Why you ask? Continue reading

Couponing: Gas Points

One of the best ways to save money is to shop at stores that give customers gas points for buying certain items.

Gas points are points assigned to a certain number of items that translates into free gas at the store’s gas pumps.

Calculating gas points is easy once you get the hang of it. It’s important to know your store policy though, but I’ll give you the rundown for the store I frequent the most.

The store will have a blocked in section that’ll have a list of items eligible for points and the sale amount of each item. It will also tell you the amount of gas points assigned to the items. Usually you need to purchase 5, 6, 8, or 10 items for each set of points earned. There is also a limit of 10 sets of items per household. A point system is assigned to the section. With my local store, it’ll say something like “400 points toward gas if you purchase ____ items. For every 100 points assigned, customers earn $.10 per gallon off their purchase of gas at that store. So 400 points translates into $.40 per gallon free.

Most stores allow you to mix and match the items within the blocked section, but it’s easier to just get one type of item for each set, at least when you’re first learning the ropes.

How to calculate:

EX. :

  1. Item: Juice 2/$4.00
  2. Must purchase 6 to equal a set
  3. 400 gas points for each set
  4. 400 equates to $.40/gallon of gas to be free
  5. Your car holds 20 gallons of gas
  6. You have a coupon worth saving $1.00 on any 2 juices

The Math:

  1. $2.00 for each Juice Bottle x 6 items= $12.00
  2. $.40 x 20 gallons = $8.00 saved
  3. $12.00 – $8.00 = $4.00
  4. You need 3 coupons = $3.00 savings
  5. $4.00 – $3.00 = $1.00
  6. $1.00/6 items = $.17 for each bottle of juice

That’s huge savings!

The average original price of one juice was $2.79, but you just paid $.17. That’s 94% savings.

What’s the best deal you’ve gotten with gas points. Have you ever made money back?



Couponing Courtesy

One of the most important things to remember when couponing is to be courteous.

We live in a huge, crazy busy world. It’s so easy to be impatient and difficult when other people can’t keep up with our pace as we think they should. This definitely applies to couponing. When we hand a cashier coupons it’s like couponers suddenly put on the ugly face. That’s the one where we forget our normal good nature and go into ‘why don’t you know what you’re doing’ mode. And that’s an ugly place to be people.

I understand how tired you are.

Couponing takes hours upon hours. It’s exhausting. But this doesn’t give us the right to be mean to cashiers. NO matter what we think about their work ethic.

Don’t be the ‘others’. Continue reading

A Book and Couponing All Wrapped in One

It’s been an exciting summer for me. As you probably noticed I’ve been doing posts on couponing. Not only is it a passion of mine, my next novel is about a coupon addict and a murder.

I bet you’re wondering how those two go together. I had a blast using my skills in couponing to make my book not only suspenseful, but I added a little nugget here and there about how to coupon.

The couponing world can be a bear.

You wouldn’t believe the things I’ve seen that people do when they first learn to coupon. From using expired coupons to clearing shelves (that’s a big no no in the coupon world), I’ve seen it all. I’ve gotten dirty looks as if I’m stealing from the sick and lame. There are some couponers I’ve passed in the store that even hunched over their coupon binders and gave me an evil eye when I passed them. There’s even been a time or two when people have walked past me and called me crazy.

But most of all, I get stopped with questions about how much money I actually save. And, lots of people want to know if I’m like those ladies on the television show.

Coupon Rage is as real as Road Rage.

I’ve experienced a bit of coupon rage myself. Now don’t worry that I’m going sabotage some mean-spirited, shelf-clearing couponer. I’ve learned to control those inner thoughts against my rival couponers, I tell you. It helps to remember that most newbies who don’t like to follow the rules of etiquette quit after four months. I’ve seen it time and time again. But, the Lord has called me to forgiveness many a time over this coupon thing. I’ve come to remember that I’m a light for his glory and must show it at all times.

Couponing’s tough. It’s time-consuming. It makes my brain hurt at times. It’s worth it.

Lesson to learn: Don’t be a shelf-clearer, respect others, keep God in the forefront of all you do and say in the coupon world.


Bare Bolts of Couponing

Let’s start at the very basic beginning of couponing.

Take your sales paper and circle every item you have a coupon on that you want to purchase, or that is a great deal.

Mark the circled item with the redeemable amount of the coupon that you have.

  • Ex. : $1.00/3

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Write down how many of each item you need.

  • If you have 4 coupons and each coupon is for 3 items then you need 12 of that product
  • Figure out if each set you want to purchase has different products that go together or if you’ll be buying ___ amount of the same item.

Do the math to check to make sure you are getting the lowest price you can.

Ex. :

  1. 3 Boxes of cereal x $2.99 each= $8.97
  2. Now subtract the coupon ($1.00) and the actual price of milk ($ 3.79) from $8.97= $4.08
  3. Divide $4.08 by 3 boxes of cereal
  4. Final price= $1.34/ box of cereal

Note: Because the sale says ‘up to $4.00’ you can only account for the actual price of the milk. That’s why I used $3.79.

Mark the total amount the item will cost after coupon is applied.

These steps will keep you from getting confused or having to recheck your coupons when you’re shopping.

What’s the best deal you’ve seen in a sales flyer this week?

Couponing Store Policies

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The biggest bang for your buck isn’t using coupons alone, it’s matching them to deals in specific types of stores.

Everyone serious about couponing needs to find stores with at least two of the following criteria:

  1. Stores that have a gas station attached and use gas points in their sales flyers
  2. Stores that allow you to use a coupon on the free item in a buy one get one free deal
  3. Stores that double or triple coupons- a must in couponing
  4. Stores with self-checkout lines

A good store has all of these things.

Once you’ve scoped out the local stores, get their coupon policy.

Read it carefully. There could be a rule where only the first of a like coupon will double in the same transaction. This will facilitate you having to do several separate transactions. Some stores limit the number of coupons you can use in a single transaction. Some won’t let you have more coupons than the number of items you’re purchasing. Some only double up to $.50, some $.99.

All these rules make our job harder, but it’s worth knowing their system so you can minimize problems at the register.

Follow policies.

I’ve seen it time and again where people think they can get around the rules. In couponing, you can’t. Do you’re best to stick to the rules and you’ll have a smoother transaction with less headache.


What stores in your area fit the above criteria? Do you have more than one store with these qualities?


What to Look For When Coupon Shopping

Couponing is about finding the best possible savings. Here are some tips to make your dollar go the furthest.

What to look for when you shop.

  • Buy 1, get 1 free
  • Buy 2, get 1 free
  • Must buy __ amount to receive sale price. Ex.: Must buy 4 to get each item for $1.50, all other amounts $1.79 each.
  • Save $10.00 if you spend $75.00 or more in one transaction
  • Earn extra gas points if you purchase ___ items
  • Clearance rack
  • If you purchase ___items, save ___ amount on meat
  • Buy ___boxes of cereal, get up to ___amount free on a gallon of milk

Follow coupon policy written on coupon.

  • Always check the expiration date on the coupon. Do not use expired coupons, it’s against the law.
  • Make sure the item matches the coupon
  • Read fine print on coupon- some only let you use 4 like coupons in one transaction,  use one coupon a day, or one coupon per household
  • Some coupons are for any product by that company. Others are for a specific product.
  • The picture on the coupon may not match the actual product but can still be used for the sale item. Read the fine print to know when this applies.
  • Check for ‘Do Not Double’ on coupon. Not all coupons can be doubled.

Always make sure what you buy is the lowest price you can get it.

I always check around from time to time to keep up with the price of items I purchase on a regular basis. Sometimes an item may be cheaper at another store even when you can’t use a coupon at that store. Know where the best deals are. I keep a running list of the cheapest price and place to get the item in my coupon binder, to reference whenever I’m shopping. Don’t feel pressured to buy a product because it has a good coupon to use on it. The goal is to save money, not use coupons exclusively.

Have you seen these sales or deals at your local grocery store? Let me hear from you. Tell me what deals you see the most.

Coupon Supplies

All couponers need things to help them organize their coupons.

As a couponer I had to learn the hard way how to do it. I want to make your life easier and give you the items you’ll need to get started.

What you must have:

  1. 3″ Binder that closes with a zipper
  2. Baseball Card holders
  3. File Folder Tabs- to organize coupons by subject
  4. Paper Trimmer
  5. Sharp Scissors
  6. Calculator

What’s optional but makes life easier:

  1. Fingertip Moistener
  2. Stapler
  3. Plastic File Bin
  4. Hanging File Folders
  5. Two translucent pocket folders

Most of these things can be bought at office supply stores. In my next post on couponing, I’ll talk about the use of each item.

Get to town and purchase these items. Let me know how it goes.