Sunday, January 16, 2011

Frugal Weekend

Hi everyone! I'm finishing up my moving and painting this weekend so sorry for the lack of posting. I will be back this week and we are going to start the stockpile from scratch again. In the meantime, it's always a frugal weekend here at The Cute Couponer I hope you enjoy my frugal friend Melissa....


I’m most likely not the person you’d expect to be guest blogging about couponing. I only returned to couponing a few weeks ago. You see, I used to love coupons and sales. We had a grocery store that offered a lot of B1G2 Free sales. Match that with the right coupons and it was so easy to get great deals. This was before the days of Internet coupons. All my coupons then came from newspapers or those cardboard cutouts that sat in the front of the store. You remember those? You’d drop in the coupons you weren’t going to use and dig around for ones you would?
            So, here I am, a decade later and getting back into the “game”. It’s totally been a learning process for me. Even though I’m still learning, I’ve already started helping others learn as well. So, I thought today I’d share the first few pointers I give to them.
            First, don’t obsess, stress, or worry. Second, if you have the opportunity to get something for free or next to nothing that you won’t use, get it and donate it. There are tons of places that are in need…..domestic violence shelters, homeless shelters, local food banks, all kinds of things!!!
            Next, start getting the Sunday paper. I’m fortunate in this regard. I live near a town that offers all the coupons you could possibly get in their paper for only $1 each Sunday. The town on the other side of me doesn’t have all these coupons. If you live there, you have to buy the big city paper and pay twice as much for it! When you pick up Sunday’s paper, go ahead and write the date of the paper on the front of the coupon inserts. And don’t forget to look through the sale papers and other flyers inside as they often have coupons as well.
            Now, it’s decision time. Do you only want to shop according to the sales in the paper? Are you going to be OK carrying in a notebook, standing in the aisle and looking through your notebook to determine if you have a coupon for that one clearance item? I didn’t think I’d be that kind of couponer….at first. I cut out just the coupons I’d matched with sales then spent the entire time in the store exclaiming to my husband……. “Oh man, there was a coupon for that online, we could have got it for free!” So, if you want to be one of those that only shops from the sales paper, you’re pretty much done. Find you a good website that matches the sales and coupons for you, and you’re off. Yet, eventually one day you’ll run into a woman (or man) who is standing at the register with a cart full of stuff checking out. The cashier will get this really strange look on their face, call over the manager and you’ll hear the manager say, “Have a good day. You don’t owe anything.”
            So, maybe you are ready to be one of “those” couponers. What next? Well, you need to pick up a large 3 ring binder, some dividers, and some baseball protector pages. Decide how you want to categorize your coupons. For example, I have a canned goods, personal hygiene, rice-pasta-potato, frozen, breakfast, condiments and so on categories. Set up yours in the way that you feel most comfortable. We’ll all be different. For example, I have a unique breakfast category. It includes all my other categories….such as frozen, canned, bread, meats, etc….but only for things we eat for breakfast. This for me was important since I can easily plan our breakfast menu in the store based on what is on clearance or sale.
            OK, so that’s done. Now what? Well, the next thing I recommend is the 4 WebSteps. You see, there are certain forms you’ll need to fill out for some coupons and deals. These forms will often ask for your email, your phone number or require you to allow them access to your Facebook page. Well, the last thing you want your email getting spammed, your voicemail overrun, and total strangers having access to pictures of your children! So, you need to create a couponer web persona using the 3 WebSteps.
First, Set up a gmail account. Something easy to remember and that applies to what you are using it for. . For example, mine is freebies4mel and a friend of mine's is freestuff4barb.
            Next, use the gmail address you just set up and set up pearltrees. Pearl tree is a bookmark system but it allows other users to see what you save.  This will allow you to save the deals you find in one convenient place. You’ll also be able to team up with other people who can add items to your pearltree. I’ve only just started mine for this purpose, though I do have another pearltree I use for all my personal bookmarks. Set up yours at www.pearltrees.com  You can view mine at www.pearltrees.com/pathsfromathriftysoul  Once you sign up, be sure to send me a message letting me know as I’m always interested in seeing what you’ve found!
The next thing is to get a free phone number and fax. You’ll do this at    http://voicemail.k7.net/signup/     You’ll use the gmail account you set up earlier to register. This website allows you to get phone messages and faxes sent to your email! The message comes as an attachment, which will then play through Windows Media Player. I’ve been using it for a while and love it! I was given a 206 area code, but since it’s only going to be used for coupons, it shouldn’t matter. For my settings, I chose “send to email address only and don’t post on site”, “GSM”, “Fax and voicemail(personal greeting and default message)”, and “nationwide plan”.
Now, your final WebStep. Set up a facebook account using the gmail account you signed up for. You can view mine here: http://www.facebook.com/PathsFromAThriftySoul  This was actually an old account I had I’d forgotten about. I went in and removed any personal information and use it now for coupons and to post deals from my own blog. Why do you need a facebook account? Well, there are tons of company’s that have Facebook pages. By going to their page and either clicking “like” on it, or by allowing it to access your page, you can then get freebies, print coupons and more! Just remember, do not upload any personal information!
            So, are you overwhelmed yet?? Don’t be. The hardest part is over. From here on out, you’ll be doing the same thing over and over. You’ll be getting your coupons, organizing them, and shopping. It’s like anything else in the world…..the more you practice the better you get! There are tons of websites, bloggers and more offering free advice on what steps to take next. More then likely, if you ask around, you’ll find someone you know that lugs around his or her coupon book as well! Ask to join them n their next trip! Email or post on blogs whenever you have a question. You’ll find that others who coupon are usually more then helpful.
            And last but not least…..have fun!! Keep track of your savings so you can see the earnings of your hard work. Don’t stress. Remember, you can’t do “wrong” or “bad”. The only thing that can happen is you save money…………..and we all love that

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