I have played the coupon game in Michigan and in Florida and let me tell you something — they are night and day apart! You CAN NOT do in Michigan what you can do in Florida. First of all, we don’t have anyone who doubles coupons. Second, our papers get beans for coupons — a FRACTION of what is in the Florida metro papers, even in the Detroit paper. Here are some ways to make couponing work for you, even in Northern Michigan. As long as you aren’t expecting deals that pay you, you can still get some great deals.
Check Your Prices
Pricing is almost ALWAYS more expensive. If you see that someone is getting an item for free check the price by either checking the flier or calling the store. Most of the time, the price for items is higher here.
Check the Paper
If you are buying papers for coupons, check your inserts against the Sunday Coupon Preview. In my town, the Record-Eagle inserts only contain a small percentage of the coupons as other areas. You could try a larger paper like the Detroit paper. The best solution is to use a clipping service like Whole Coupon Inserts or Coupon Beat. But you will probably still be missing some key coupons.
Pick Your Deals
What items do you want to try to get cheap? For me, it’s makeup & some food items. For you, it might be snacks or meat or personal care items. Maybe you only coupon for food pantry items. Figure out what you want & that will help focus your efforts.
Pick Your Store(s)
In our area, we have tons of stores–Dollar Tree, Target, Meijer, Walmart, CVS, Rite Aid AND Walgreens. With 3 under 6 years old and having them be all. over. town. I’m obviously not doing them all. I stick to CVS & Target. Stick to blogs that focus on the stores you will frequent to save time.
Mark your Calendar
If you get ECB’s or UP+ or any other cash like coupon, put a reminder in your calendar or phone to use it before it expires. I just lost a $10 UP+ because I neglected this simple step. Bah!
Now that you have your coupon plan in place, organize your coupons.
Since I’m not hardcore, I do it like this:
1. Print the list of coupons in the flier.
2. Pull out the ones you will use, no matter what. For me, that is frequently used brands and makeup coupons. I put these in a see-through envelope.
3. Put whole inserts in folders, with the list, by date. Newest in front.
4. If you get store specific coupons for a store you frequent (like Target Catalina’s & mailers, for example), have a home for those.
5. Have a home for other coupons, as well. For instance, fast food coupons go in my diaper bag, so I can use one if we need to while we are out. Everything else goes in a general coupon drawer.
Do you have any tips for playing the coupon game in an area where it’s not easy to “play the game?”