How to Coupon, Part 1: The Website

Since I am otherwise preoccupied with my new little angel, thought I would entertain y’all with a little “How To.”  Several of y’all have asked me how we can possibly spend about $30 a week in groceries for a family of (now) four.  My answer, in short, is that I coupon.  But in reality, I just find shortcuts.  I am NOT one of those crazy couponers that you see on TV!  I spend about an hour a week on it! Honest!

First tip, go to www.southernsavers.com and get familiar with the site….its is my best friend!  Here’s what it looks like in general.

And here’s how I use it to create my shopping list with coupons every week: (Note: I’m going to show you how to shop from Publix and possibly talk a little bit about Target, since these are the two primary places I shop…..but the same instructions apply to any of the stores she has listed on her tabs-and if you don’t see your store, make sure you look at the Other tab, which has more!)

Quick Tour The site is generally composed of three main areas.

  • The tabs: which run across the top of the page, list the stores that Jenny (who created the site) keeps up with.
  • The left column: has the most current deals.
  • The right column: has a list of the most current deals-you can click on ones that interest you….some are grocery related, many are online retail sales.

1.  First, I get my list that I’ve made throughout the week that is on my fridge.  I keep it handy so I can reference it as I’m looking at the week’s sales.

2. Then, I go to www.southernsavers.com and I hover on the Publix Tab at the top and a drop down menu appears.  I click on Weekly Ad and immediately, a list of weekly ads shows up in the left column.  I click on the one that has this week’s dates.  And the list of things that are on sale pop up.  Publix lists all of their Buy One Get One Free deals first (also known as BOGO), and then, if you scroll down, groups everything else on sale by location: Frozen, Produce, Grocery, etc.

Note: Next to each item under the BOGO category, you will see the price of one item, and then immediately after, half of that price in parenthesis.  This is because Publix allows you to only buy one item at half price if you choose, rather than requiring you to get two of the item in order to get the sale price (as a lot of other stores, like Target, do….make sure you click on the coupon policy for each store you use, in order to find out what their BOGO policies are, as well as other coupon rules).  Coupon policies are listed (for each store that you click on in the Tabs) on the top of the right hand column.

3. Ok, back to the left hand column, where the sale items are listed.  See that little check box that’s next to each item on sale? I click on those as I scroll down and see items that I need (or want) for the week.  When you click on the boxes, the website makes a shopping list in a separate window for that…..but hold on, I’ll get to that in a later post!

4. So under each item that is on sale there is a list of coupons for that item, and where to find them.  First, a little blue S may be listed.  This means Store Coupon and Jenny specifies which store (Publix, or a competitor like Food Lion or Target) and where to find that coupon (like a booklet, which you generally have to pick up at Customer Service or get in the mail.  Or a Tearpad, which you have to be lucky enough to see near that item in the store, or a Green or Yellow Advantage Flier, which you get at Customer Service or by the front door of the store).

Here’s a picture of the Yellow Advantage Flier…it’s mostly grocery items.  The Green looks the same (just green, duh!) and has store deals on personal and hygiene items.

5. Next, a red M (or several of them) are listed.  These might have a SS and then a date or a RP and a date or a PG and a date.  These stand for Smart Source, Red Plum and Proctor and Gamble, respectively.  These are the inserts that come in your Sunday paper.  In general, these are usually Manufacturer’s Coupons.  But if you see the name of a specific store next to the expiration date (or if it says somewhere “Use only at Publix”), then it is a Store Coupon.

They look like this:

And occasionally this:

You just have to flip through the right booklet to find the coupon.  I’ve also found that inserts vary by region, so sometimes the coupon value is different, or the coupon is missing completely from my inserts.

6. Sometimes, there is a link that says Printable next to a coupon value.  These are also generally manufacturer’s coupons, but sometimes you will see a store name next to the expiration date (and then it is a store coupon).  If you click on this link, it will lead you to that coupon manufacturer’s website, where you usually have to create an account before printing the coupon.  Be careful doing this, and consider what information you give out.  I have a hotmail account that I created that has no personal information on it…..and I only use it for couponing.  Also, keep in mind that you can only PRINT two of a coupon per computer….any more than that is coupon fraud.  That’s why you see the Crazy Couponers on TV with five or six computers-they print two from each and then stockpile their items.

7. Pay attention to the fine print on the coupons: Make sure your expiration dates are still valid, see if it is requiring you to buy a certain flavor of an item, or if you have to buy something else with it in order for the coupon to be valid.  Jenny is pretty good about specifics on her website, but like I said, coupons vary from region to region….hers may look different than yours.

8. The last thing listed under each sale item is Jenny’s little hint to which coupons to use to get the best deal, and what the rock bottom price should be after coupons.

9. In order to get the best deal, you must Stack Coupons.  My local Publix Coupon Policy allows 3 coupons per item:

  • ONE Publix coupon
  • ONE Competitor’s Coupon (make sure you ask at Customer Service who your store considers a competitor)
  • ONE Manufacturer’s Coupon (doesn’t matter if you cut it out of the Sunday Paper insert, or print it off the internet)

The great thing about this, is using all 3 coupons for BOGO items…this is where I often make money off items (or at least get them free!).  Like I said, make sure you check your individual store’s coupon policy, as a lot of them have changed recently.

Here’s an example:

Unfortunately, this wasn’t a BOGO item, but the sale price was $2.50 for one.  The store coupon requires the purchase of two in order to get the $3 off.  And unfortunately there was no Publix coupon for this item.  So you would just stack the Competitor Coupon (Walgreens) with one of the Manufacturer Coupons for each item. (And yes, in order to get two manufacturer coupons from the newspaper, you may need to buy two papers!).

So, 2 items x $2.50=$5 -$3 off with store coupon=$2 for two items
 

Some stores double manufacture coupons.  (Publix will double any manufacturer coupon up to .50-check your store’s policy).  So if you can find two .55 off manufacture coupons (in this case, on each item), and your store doubles, then those coupons would be worth $1.10 EACH!

So we are at paying $2 for two items – 2 ($1.10 off coupons)= the store OWES you .20!!! Most won’t give you cash, but will apply to the rest of your bill 
 

Since my Publix only doubles coupons to .50…. I could use the .55 coupon (but then it would only take off .55 cents) OR the better coupons listed, which were for .50 off (which would be doubled to $1.00 each…making both items free).  Still a good deal.

And that’s the math lesson for today.  Confused yet?  Please leave me a comment if you are, and I’ll try to explain myself a little better!  Next time, I’ll show you some more key words you need to know, and how I personally organize my coupons and get to the store.

Comments

  1. Hi Shara! I can’t believe you had time to type this all up! I do this too but am no where near $30/week! I think we just eat too much–LOL! And it is only going to get worse as the 2 boys get older. We buy a ton of fresh produce and have been trying to avoid the processed stuff and stuff with added sugar and HFCS as much as possible (not that we avoid it 100%, but we have tried to cut back–we still eat chocolate and drink Coke–:-). Trying to avoid the processed and sugary stuff has really cut back on my coupon usage.

    For anyone else out there who tries to coupon, I got frustrated for a while b/c I couldn’t get down to $40/week like many of the blogs I read and friends (mainly b/c of our produce purchases). Then I decided to just save where I can and be happy about it. Even if I spend about $85 – 100/week at Publix (plus at least one Sam’s run a month), I save anywhere from $30 – $60 on my Publix bill each week. So I guess my point is, save where you can and be happy about the savings you get. Don’t get frustrated if it seems like you are spending more than everyone else! Every little bit you save helps!

    • Hey Christy!
      Thanks for visiting! I’ll never tell you that I wrote this post a long time ago, in anticipation for not wanting to really focus on blogging this week! I love couponing though, and completely agree with you about being proud of saving money, no matter how much! Come back soon!
      -Shara

  2. Thank you so much for linking up with the Frog last week! It means so much to me! I hope you will join the party tomorrow! Plus, I am giving you the Versitile Blogger Award so stop by and check it out.

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