Monday, October 13, 2014

Do not double? How to know if a coupon doubles using your Android or iPhone

Last week, I posted about contacting companies for free coupons.  One common trend when you receive coupons provided directly by a manufacturer, however, is the labeling "do not double."  This means, if you go to a grocery store that doubles coupons, that coupon should not be doubled.  This can certainly limit a coupon's usefulness, especially when there are other coupons out there that can be doubled just fine.

But there's a big secret among couponers:  just because the coupon says it won't double, doesn't mean it actually won't.  But how do you know?

Before I get started, please know that technically speaking, there is a way for a cashier to manually tell the system not to double a coupon, and it is completely within their right to do so if the coupon says it shouldn't be doubled.  I'd say 99% of the time, you're not going to get a cashier who is that much of a stickler in reading the fine print on every coupon, but some do and will.

The super-easy but almost ancient method of knowing if a coupon will double: UPC

Back in the day, coupons had UPC barcodes, similar to the barcodes you see on items you purchase. Most coupons today have what's called a Databar, which is a fancy, two-line barcode that contains a whole lot more information within it.  The Databar became the new standard because it's much harder to commit coupon fraud -- with UPCs, they were often coded in such a way that if you knew how to decode them, you could cheat the system and use the coupon on a completely different item.

At this point, you're unlikely to find a coupon with just a UPC, but you may find one with both a UPC and a Databar -- this is because coupon companies provided both options for a while during the transition.  If you have a coupon that contains both, and the cashier scans the UPC, knowing if it will double is simple.

Does the number associated with the UPC start with a 5?  It will double.
Does the number associated with the UPC start with a 9?  It will not.

Now, if it has both a UPC and a Databar, you don't know which one the cashier will end up scanning.  Most cashiers just start waving it over the lasers until something picks up.  It is technically possible that the Databar could be coded differently, so I'd recommend continuing on with this article and checking your Databar, too.

The easy way to know if a couple will double if you have an iPhone: Double Coupon Checker

Have an iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch?  Checking to see if your coupon will double is nearly as easy thanks to an app called Double Coupon Checker.  Simply scan your coupon using the app and it will give you a simple yes or no.  I'm not an iPhone user but I've heard nothing but great reviews on this app from fellow couponers.

The method to know if a coupon will double if you have an Android device:

So what do you do if you're like me and want to know if a coupon will double from your Android phone?  Until now, honestly, you were out of luck.  After I learned that Double Coupon Checker was only available for iOS devices, I searched high and low to try to find something similar for Android.  There was nothing.  I also couldn't find a single tutorial out there from a couponer as to how to make it work, and I'm a skilled Googler!  I asked my Facebook couponers group about it and they basically told me there was nothing I could do short of obtaining an iOS device or just crossing my fingers at checkout.

I'm not one to give up.

If I was an app developer, I'd make an app for you.  But I don't think my method is that terrible, especially once you get the hang of it -- it just has a couple more steps.

(It looks like there are a lot more steps below, but I'm breaking it down as much as I can here -- once you've done it, you'll realize it's really pretty quick!)

First, make sure you have Barcode Scanner installed.  It's a super-simple barcode scanner and it's capable of scanning Databars.

  1. Scan the coupon with the Barcode Scanner app.  Make sure you're in good light, as I've found the Databars can be a little tougher for the scanner to read compared to a standard UPC.  You'll get something that looks like this:



  2. Press and hold on top of the number to select it.  At the top you'll see options; use them to select all, and then copy the number.  You'll want all of it, including the info in parentheses.
  3. Come back here, in your browser, and head over to the Databar Coupon Decoder page.
  4. Scroll down to the first "Data" section.  Press and hold on the text entry field under where it says "Up to 70 digits," then select to paste your number into that field.  Then, press the "Go" button on your keyboard (where the enter key would usually be).
  5. It won't look like anything happened, but don't panic.  Start scrolling down the page.  You should notice that many of the data fields are now propagated with numbers from what you'd provided, like this:


    Here, you'll see it's identified the company, the save value (save $.75) and the primary purchase requirement (1 item).  Cool, huh?
  6. Scroll all the way down to the last set of fields, labeled "Optional Data Field 9."  The very last field says "Don't Multiply Flag" -- this is the one you need to look at.


    Is it blank like you see here in my screenshot?  The coupon will double.  The Databar has not been coded to prevent doubling.
    Is there a 1 in that little gray space before the "Choose one" dropdown?  The coupon will not double because it is coded to prevent doubling.
I can tell you, when you're trying to figure out whether buying a certain brand over another is worth it, knowing if a coupon will double or not can make a huge difference!  I also check if there's a chance the item can be free if the coupon doubles.  I have tested and confirmed that my Android method does work!

If you find this post helpful, and especially if you find my secret Android method helpful, please share with your friends!  I'd love to get the word out to other Android couponers that this is an option available to us, even though it takes just a little more work.

Monday, October 6, 2014

How to Contact Companies for Free Coupons (with list!)

You can get plenty of coupons either online or in your local paper.  But there's another way to get some great coupons, without spending money on ink or a newspaper -- simply ask for them!

I'd heard about companies giving out coupons before, but always thought it would take too much time.  But recently, in the name of science, I made a list of companies and spent about an hour contacting them, just to see what would one hour of my time could do.

I was pretty impressed.


These are all the coupons I received within the first week of requesting them.  There were many others that trickled in after the first week, but a good majority of the companies got right to sending them out to me.

It was so easy!  All I did was craft a basic form letter (if you're going to do this, I'd encourage you to write your own version):
I just wanted to thank you for having such delicious products! [insert specific sentence or two about their product and/or my experience with it here] 
Do you have any coupons available?  My family is on a really tight budget right now so anything that can make our favorite products more affordable would be very helpful!
Then I went to the website for each brand and found their contact page.  I filled out their form, submitted and crossed my fingers.  If I noticed their site offered printable coupons I'd alter my form letter to ask if they had any paper coupons available.

I did receive some rejection emails.  Also, weirdly enough, I got some rejections and then got some coupons a few days later anyway.  So just because they say they don't send coupons doesn't mean they won't -- you may be surprised.

Some companies love that you ask for coupons and actually encourage you to do it regularly.  Turkey Hill Dairy, for example, will send you an awesome packet full of coupons and let you know you can request another one every 30 days.  Every month!  Seriously, they're trying to fuel my ice cream habit, and they're winning.  I used 9 coupons -- combining all the ice cream coupons they sent me with a couple I printed out -- and stocked up during a good sale, getting them for $1 each.  I'm embarrassed to say we're already running low, so I may be contacting them for more coupons soon!

And some companies just love to prove how awesome they are.  Check out this package I got from Wholly Guacamole:


A hand-written note, a bag clip, a squishy stress avocado, some recipes and a coupon for free guacamole!  You bet I'm going to be buying a whole lot more of their stuff.  I love a company who appreciates their customers.

I realized in hindsight that I should have kept a better list of who sent me coupons.  That said, this list isn't complete.  But if you're looking for a good place to start, here are some companies who would love to hear from you:


One nice thing is that many of the coupons sent don't expire for a while.  Some don't have an expiration at all.  So you can hold onto them until you find a great sale with which to combine them.

I'd recommend making your own list, including companies whose products you use regularly and love.  Getting coupons for the things you're already going to buy is the best!  Go to their webpage and search for a "contact us" form.  Commonly, companies will put a link at the bottom of the page.

If you have any luck with other companies, please feel free to share in the comments to help other savvy shoppers!


Monday, September 29, 2014

7 Reasons Why Shopping at Aldi Isn't So Bad

If you've never checked out Aldi before, it's a discount supermarket chain where about 90% of the products are its own store brand.  It's very no-frills -- most items are displayed in boxes, you bag your own groceries, you bring your own bags or buy some of theirs, and you pay a quarter deposit to use a shopping cart, which you get back once you've returned it to the cart corral and connected it back to the other carts.  They also don't take credit cards -- it's cash or debit only.  They do all of this to help keep their costs low.

I don't have any issue with store brands.  I love shopping at Trader Joe's, which is a similar experience. (Side note: Many people will tell you that Trader Joe's and Aldi are owned by the same parent company, but that's not quite true.  There are two "Aldi" brands run by different parts of the same family.  Trader Joe's is run by a trust of the other Aldi brand.)

But I'm going to be honest; for the longest time, I did not want to step foot in Aldi.  My mom fell in love from the moment one was built in my hometown, but I was not impressed by the things she brought home.  Overly processed junk, I thought.  Full of chemicals and additives and nasty things that, while I grew up on and came out completely fine, I just didn't like putting in my body anymore.  I wrote it off as a case of "you get what you pay for."

That is, until my family was left without any income other than my husband's unemployment checks, which didn't even cover our bills.  When my new goal became "feed our family for as few dollars as humanly possible," I evaluated all of my options, Aldi being one of them.

The result?  It's not nearly as bad as I thought.  Here's why:
  1. They have the cheapest prices in town on basic staples.  Need milk, bread, butter or eggs?  Unless your supermarket's having an awesome sale, Aldi's prices are always lower.  Sometimes, the price beats even the best sale.  I'm pretty sure these items are loss leaders for them, ways to get you in the door so you'll hopefully buy more products.  My Aldi has signs saying they have the right to impose a limit of 5 items for bread, milk and eggs, though I've seen people coming out of the store with a cart literally full of milk or bread.  Don't ask me what they do with it all, but clearly they know the best place to shop.

  2. They have a good deal of natural food options for cheap.  In addition to those basic staples, Aldi has a growing natural foods line, including some organic products, at great prices.  I love their fruit pouches for my daughter -- they have nothing but fruit in them, and are only $1.99 for a 4-pack.  They also have nitrate-free deli meat, organic milk and soymilk, 100% juices, and all-natural almond butter, among other things.  They've even had grass-fed beef on occasion as a special buy.  This is a fairly new development in the world of Aldi, but a welcome one!

  3. Their produce section is small, but can't be beat.  You're not going to find exotic fruits and vegetables here, but for your most common produce items, particularly the ones in season, you can get great deals.  They have the cheapest banana prices anywhere, which is great for my Yonanas frozen fruit habit.  I usually buy romaine hearts here too -- they're super-easy to cut up real quick to create a green salad instead of spending more on the pre-cut stuff (which they also have, if you're looking for convenience).  They've also started carrying a few organic options.

  4. Their private brand is often another brand in disguise.  This is common among private labels, but sometimes you're buying the same product you'd get somewhere else, just with a different brand slapped on top of it.  Sometimes it's hard to find this information, because the brands don't want you to know, but one cool thing I learned is that you can look up the dairy code on a gallon of milk to figure out where it was produced.  The milk at my Aldi is from a local dairy, whose milk costs significantly more as a branded name in my regular supermarket.  (And happily, it's rBST-free!)  I've also noticed that Aldi carries several products that Trader Joe's also sells, but for less.  The nitrate-free deli meat is in a nearly identical package and tastes the same.  They also have one of my major Trader Joe's addictions during the fall as a seasonal item -- maple leaf cookies -- and they're even cheaper than the completely reasonable price at Trader Joe's.
      
  5. Their selection is constantly changing, and what's leaving can often be scored at a great deal.  Food-wise, Aldi tends to have a variety of seasonal products, occasional things they get from a name brand at a good deal, or things they're just trying out.  If the store needs to get rid of an item to make room for something new, the deals get even better.  I usually walk around my store whenever I go, looking for red price labels.  Red means it's marked down as clearance.  One time I got a package of hamburger buns for $0.25 because they just had too many, and then got my $.25 back as a rebate using Checkout 51.  And it's not just food -- Aldi also has a section of seasonal home goods.  For the past couple of weeks, they've had this Fisher-Price Infant to Toddler Swing on clearance for $4.99, because summer's over and they have to go.  It's $25 on Amazon.  If I was into reselling, I could make myself a good profit!

  6. You can get in and out quickly.  The store is on the smaller side and is easy to navigate.  Once you've been there a couple of times you know where everything is.  While they usually only have one or two cashiers operating at a time, they're speedy.  The products have barcodes all over them to help facilitate quicker scanning, and because you're doing the bagging, all they have to do is set it all in a cart for you.  All in all, it's way faster than a trip to my regular supermarket.  Time is money!

  7. Aldi pays its workers well.  Personally, I love supporting businesses that pay their employees reasonable wages.  That often doesn't happen with a discount chain (ahem, Walmart), but Aldi pays its employees well above minimum wage.  They do have to work for it -- with a small crew, employees have more responsibilities -- but at least they make a reasonable income.  I've noticed fairly low turnover at my store as well, so they must be doing something right!
With my husband's commute and work schedule, and my busy day working and chasing a toddler, I don't have as much time as I once did for carefully planning out my shopping list with coupons.  I'm finding that Aldi is doing a great job of helping me continue to keep my costs fairly low without quite as much effort.  I coupon for what I can, but rely on Aldi to help me save on many of the things my family needs every day without the clipping.  Plus, I can use Aldi's stable, low prices to determine whether or not a deal elsewhere is good or not worth the effort.

Are you an avid Aldi shopper or just thinking about giving it a go?  I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Sensibly Earning -- and a life update

The past two months have been a complete whirlwind for my family and me, so I had to take an unexpected break from blogging.

My husband got two job offers in August, and after much stress and an almost relocation, he accepted a position with a company an hour and a half commute from home.

After the job offer situation was settled, we spent nearly two weeks traveling as a family, enjoying the last bits of summer.

And this month, we've been all about getting settled into our new weekday routine.  My husband started work after Labor Day and things are well, but him being gone 12 hours (or more) a day has been a major adjustment for our family!

Adding to the chaos, I also accepted a great opportunity in late July.  I now work from home, part-time, making my own hours.  Can it get any better?  I'm all about sensibly earning just as much as I am saving, so I wanted to share this with you!

Now, I know what you're thinking.  Am I selling something?  Because honestly, in my experience, it seems that about 90% of work-at-home moms are doing direct sales for some sort of product.  There's absolutely nothing wrong with that, but it's just not my thing.  I'm not a sales girl.  But I am a tech girl, and that's why I jumped on the opportunity to get involved with search engine evaluation.

Ever wonder how search engines can have such good results?  A lot of it is a smart algorithm, but some things just need human context.  That's where raters come in.  Personally I'm an ads assessor -- I review the pages that come up when you click on one of the sponsored links you see at the top of the results.  I look at what you searched for and determine how relevant that content is to what you wanted.

I work for Lionbridge, who contracts me out to one of the major search engines.  I'm an independent contractor, so I am responsible for withholding my own taxes.  But I can work whenever I'd like, in the range of 10-20 hours a week, so I can work when my daughter is napping or sleeping.  The pay is decent too -- far better than minimum wage.

The process to get the position is a little different than your typical job.  There is no interview.  Once they accept your online application, they provide you with access to a portal where you get the rating guidelines manual and some additional material to help you learn what you'd be doing.  After working through a series of 100 practice questions, you take a final exam using examples very similar to what you'd be judging.  It's open book, so you can look at your guidelines as much as you'd like.  So long as you pass, you're invited to begin work.

To remain in the program, there are some quality metrics that you have to maintain.  There's a target rate of judgments per hour, but it's totally attainable, especially once you get used to it.  There are random audits to help evaluate you, but there is a lot of feedback and plenty of opportunity to improve.  They also have weekly webinars you can attend where they talk about common areas of confusion.

Payment is a little different than your typical job as well, as it's only once a month.  It could be as long as 60 days before you see your first payment, depending on when you start, thanks to processing.  Payment is done via an international wire transfer into your bank account.  I know "international wire transfer" sounds like some crazy scam, but I assure you it's not -- Lionbridge's headquarters is just outside of the US, and it's basically like getting a direct deposit.  You'll just want to check into whether or not your bank may charge any fees.  Mine does not.

After doing this for nearly two months, I'm so thankful to have found such a perfect opportunity.  I'm providing some extra income for our family while also getting to stay home with my daughter.  If you factor in the amount we'd be paying for daycare if I was working a more traditional job, I'm really bringing in a lot!  It is sometimes a bit stressful for me because nearly all of my downtime is spent working, but it's worth the effort.  The job itself is fairly easy, and I love that there is zero work stress.

If you're interested in looking into it more, you can check out Lionbridge's job posting for Ads Assessor.  They also have other opportunities you can look into.

There are also other companies that conduct similar work.  I obviously don't have any personal experience with them, but you can find a lot of info with some Google searching.  So if Lionbridge doesn't work out for you, you could also search for opportunities from ZeroChaos, Appen Butler Hill, and iSoftStone.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Great Deal at Target This Week With In-Store Pickup!

I can't help but share this awesome deal at Target for this week!

Target is offering $10 off any order of $40 or more on their site using the in-store pickup option.  That alone is pretty awesome, but they also are offering some great gift card deals this week that make it even sweeter!

My daughter is typically in cloth diapers, but we're doing quite a bit of traveling in August and typically use disposables when we're away.  Target has two diaper deals this week:
  • Get a $20 gift card when you buy two giant packs of Pampers or Huggies, on sale for $34.99 each
  • Get a $10 gift card when you buy two bulk packs of Honest Company, BabyGanics or Up and Up diapers, on sale for $25.99 each
Today I ordered two boxes of The Honest Company diapers through target.com with the in-store pickup option.  That came to $51.98, but there was an instant $10 off for the in-store pickup promo, bringing me down to $41.98.  Then, the moment I picked it up, they emailed me a $10 gift card.  So it's like I paid $31.98 for both boxes.  Almost half off!  It's more diapers than we'll need but we'll just save them for another trip.

Don't have a kid in diapers?  There's another great gift card deal!  You can get a $10 gift card for buying any four of the following:

  • Laundry Detergent, on sale for $9.99 (including Tide 69-oz 36-load or 75-oz 48-load, Gain 100-oz 48- or 64-load, and select others)
  • Bounty Paper Towels, on sale for $8.99 (8-pk giant roll or Basic 12-pk big roll)
  • Charmin Bath Tissue, on sale for $12.99 (24-pk double plus or 12-pk mega plus)
  • Fabric Softener, on sale for $7.99 (select Bounce 200-ct sheets, Downy 120-load liquid, and select others)
  • Glad Trash Bags, on sale for $9.99 (select 45- to 106-ct 13 gallon or 34- or 36-ct 30 gallon)
I'm planning on using the $10 gift card today toward another in-store pickup, for the following:
  • 2x Charmin Bath Tissue ($12.99 each)
  • 2x Bounty Paper Towels ($8.99 each)
$43.96 before discounts, $33.96 after the instant $10 in-store pickup promo.  Then I get a $10 gift card on top of that, so it's like paying $23.96 for all four!  Again, this is nearly half price -- and no need for coupons!

You can get the deal on up to four transactions.

Placing and picking up my diaper order today was so easy!  I placed the order from my phone.  The site said it could take up to 4 hours to be ready, but within a half hour I received my email and text message letting me know I could drop by anytime for pickup.  I went to the service desk, they used my driver's license to look up my order, and brought it right out for me.  And as I mentioned, the $10 gift card showed up in my email almost immediately after I picked up the order.

Just a note, you can't use coupons on an online order, so you can't combine other deals here.  But these deals are so good, you don't need to!


Thursday, July 24, 2014

Couponing Myths, Busted: You can't eat healthy and coupon

I think one of the top comments I get when talking about couponing is the thought that you can't both eat healthy and be a couponer.  Totally untrue!

Yes, it is far easier to get crazy deals on prepackaged items that are full of things you can't pronounce.  I got some Chex Mix last week for $.15 a bag -- that's not the type of deal you expect to get on, say, an avocado.  Grains and chemicals are cheap.  I try to balance things for our family, but given our lack of income right now, I do take advantage of some of those deals when I think the product isn't too toxic.

But couponing isn't an all-or-nothing thing.  You might not walk out of the grocery store having spent $5 on a cart full of groceries, but you can still save quite a bit!  Here are my biggest tips:

Look for store coupons
The local supermarkets here typically have store coupons in their weekly flyers.  They often send coupons in the mail as well.  The items could be anything, but here's where I typically find great coupons for meat, produce and dairy items.  Store coupons can also usually be combined with manufacturer's coupons, so if it is an item that happens to have a MC as well, you can save even more.  I also often get coupons at checkout for money off a minimum purchase -- like $10 off $50 -- that can be used for anything.

Couponing isn't just about food
Even if you buy nothing but farm fresh produce and meats for your family (hey, can I come over?), you can still save big on other essentials for your family.  Paper products, personal care products, and cleaning supplies very commonly have coupons and deals.  I think I have enough laundry detergent right now to get my family through the next year; nearly all of it was under $1 a bottle.  The key is to keep an eye on the sales and stock up on those supplies when they're at their cheapest.

Keep an eye on the deals
It's not uncommon to find some great deals on natural and organic products.  If you're checking into the deals each week, you'll find them.  Mambo Sprouts is a website that specializes in coupons on natural and organic products.  Hopster often has some too.  If you shop at Whole Foods, they also have a page with their own printable coupons.

Take advantage of moneymaking offers
This isn't something you can do at every store, but if you're lucky enough to shop somewhere that will allow you overage toward other items, that's a great way to save on things that don't typically have coupons.  ShopRite allows overage when it involves using an eCoupon.  Target also allows overage so long as you have another item to absorb the cost (they won't pay you cash at checkout).  I don't think my husband will ever run out of deodorant again, because there have been so many moneymaking deals lately, saving me $1-$2 every time I buy one.  It's free money!  If it's a product you won't use, donate it.

This week was one of my healthier shopping trips and I still saved a lot.  Of course, everyone's definition of healthy is a bit different, and this isn't meant to be the ideal trip by any means, but here's what it looked like:


(Yes, I know ramen noodles aren't healthy -- but they were for a delicious cabbage ramen salad I made today!)


  • 4x Maruchan ramen noodles, $.25 each
  • Quick Oats, on sale for $1.69
  • Slivered almonds, $2.69
  • Sesame seeds, $2.29
  • Chicken drumsticks, on sale for $1.19/lb ($5.74)
    • Store coupon for $.50 off/lb ($2.41)
    • Total: $3.33
  • Fresh dill, $.99
  • Scallions, $.50
  • Land O Lakes Soft Butter Spread, on sale for $1.88
    • $.55 MC (requested by mail), fully doubled
    • Total: $.78
  • Butter, on sale for $3.49
    • $1.50 store coupon 
    • Total: $1.99
  • Butterball Deli Turkey, on sale for $5.99/lb ($18.03)
    • Store coupon for $2 off/lb, up to 3 lbs ($6)
    • Total: $12.03
  • 4x Matlaw's Stuffed Clams, $4.99 each
    • 4x $4.99 printable MC
    • Total: Free
Other deals:
  • $3 off $35+ store coupon
Total: $24.49 (savings of $46.74)

As you can see, not everything I bought was on sale or had coupons, but I still saved 66% off my trip.  The free stuffed clams definitely helped, but I also got some great deals thanks to store coupons.  I came home with a lot of meat and seafood!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Couponing 101: Making the most of printable coupons; a how-to with tips and tricks

Even though I get the paper now, most of the coupons I use are printables -- meaning, I print them out from my computer.  Those with iPhones can even print coupons using the coupons.com app.  I love printable coupons because you can easily find what you need, when you need them, and without having to deal with other coupons you don't care about.  You can also easily obtain multiple coupons (more on that below).

Where to find printables:
The main sources for printable coupons are coupons.com, smartsource.com and redplum.com.  While you can get their coupons directly from their websites, there are also a lot of other places from which you can get them.  The coupon companies pay websites to refer people to print coupons as well.  They're the same, but there are some advantages to printing elsewhere:

MyPoints: This is one of my favorite places to print coupons because you actually get points for the coupons you print and redeem.  Points can be redeemed for gift cards.  It takes a while to add up, but considering the coupons are free to print and use, a little extra savings is just a bonus!  MyPoints has partnerships with Coupons.com and SmartSource.

LivingRichWithCoupons: This is the main site where I get my deals from, so it's often just convenient to print there.  They often provide links that will open the coupons page with the specific coupon you want already clipped.  Also, their tool allows you to easily change ZIP codes.  This is useful, because some coupons are only available under certain ZIPs.  When you're looking at a coupon match-up site and they reference a printable that's ZIP-specific, they'll provide the ZIP you need in parentheses next to the link.  LivingRichWithCoupons has partnerships with all the major coupon providers.

General Mills products have some additional resources for their printable coupons.  They usually have a lot of coupons available through Coupons.com, but if you go to one of their sites directly to print, those coupons are worth slightly more.  So a coupon for $.75 off Golden Grahams on Coupons.com would be $.85 off through one of General Mills' sites.  You have to be a member to print from one of their sites, but it's free.  I typically go to BettyCrocker.com -- the coupons are the same no matter which of their sites you go to.

You can also find an assortment of General Mills coupons at everydaysaver.com.  In some cases the deals are better on one of the General Mills sites, but some of the coupons they have are exclusive as well.

Multiple coupons:
One of the best advantages of using printable coupons is the fact that you can easily print out multiples.  With coupons from the paper, you either need multiple papers or another way to get additional inserts.  With nearly all printable coupon sites, there is a maximum of two prints per computer.  If you have multiple computers in your house, you can print two from each of them!  That's how I end up with four coupons for really good deals -- my husband and I each have our own computers, so I just hop on his to print the additional coupons out.  Once you've reached the limit on your device, it will usually tell you that on the website and simply won't let you print that coupon anymore.

I believe that you can get two additional prints from an iPhone with Coupons.com, but I don't have one to test that out.  Unfortunately the Android version of the app doesn't have the ability to actually print any of the coupons.

Please note that you should never copy a coupon.  There are specific codes on each coupon, and copying them is considered fraud.  There are also some additional features in place on the coupon that can make it obvious when it has been copied versus printed out legally.

Updates and Resets:
New coupons are released throughout the month, but the best time to find new ones is right when the month is switching.  The beginning of the month is a big time for new coupons.

From time to time, usually at the beginning of a new month with the big update, some coupons will "reset" -- meaning they basically get a new supply and if you previously reached your limit, you'll be able to print more again.  The big couponing sites usually tell you which coupons have reset.  You can also just check in to the printable coupon sites at the start of a new month to see if the site still claims your limit has been reached.

Tips for printing:
It's always a good idea to check out the coupon sites right when they've made their big update for the new month.  Printable coupons typically have limits -- once a certain number of people have printed them, they disappear.  This means that the good coupons that come out at the start of a month may go quickly!  If you see a really good coupon for something you'd buy regularly, it may be worth your while to go ahead and print it, even if you're not sure you'll use it.  At the start of July, I got 4 copies of a coupon for $1.50 off any Breyers, Magnum, Popsicle, Klondike or Fruttare product.  That's a great deal on a product that's super popular during this time of year and often has great sales -- the coupon was gone within 24 hours!

Ink can get really expensive quickly.  To help keep costs down, print in black-and-white only.  Unfortunately you can't change any settings before printing coupons -- it's a safeguard to help keep people from finding ways to print out more copies than they should -- but you can change the default settings on your computer to be grayscale.  Here's how to do it on a Windows computer.  Your coupons won't be as pretty, but who cares?

I try to maximize how I use my paper so I'm not overly wasteful.  With most of the sites, up to 3 coupons can fit on a page.  If I need to print multiples of a single coupon, I'll print one on one side, then flip the paper over and print on the other side too.  Just make sure you're not printing on the back side of the first coupon, because you need the coupons to be separate!  Sometimes if I needed to print two coupons I'll use the other side to print a single coupon as well.  Just make sure there will be enough room.  If you have any doubt that the coupon will fit without overlapping another coupon, don't do it!

When I can, I'll group like coupons together and cut multiple pages at once.  The coupon sites each seem to have a standard coupon size, so even if the coupons are for different items, they often line up just fine for cutting.  Just give yourself a little bit of a buffer around the coupons so you don't accidentally cut off some of the fine print on the side.

This week's deal:
I'm pretty stocked up on just about everything right now, so this week's shopping was just to pick up a few things that had really good sales.  All of my manufacturer's coupons for this trip were printed!  This was at ShopRite, as most of my trips are.  But don't fret if there's not a ShopRite near you -- you can get similar deals at many regional supermarkets.  Also, I'm planning a post soon to talk exclusively about my good friend Target!

I'm getting paid $.44 for this!  Don't mind the toddler hand; she was really excited to help me put things away!


  • 5x Golden Grahams on sale for $1.88 (had to buy in multiples of 3 -- the Reese's Puffs below is also part of the deal)
    • 4x $.85 printable MC (BettyCrocker.com), doubled
    • $.75 printable MC (Coupons.com), doubled
    • $.75 eCoupon
    • ($1/2 eCoupon pending -- have to call ShopRite because it didn't work)
    • ($.75 SavingStar rebate pending)
    • Total: -$1.40
  • Reese's Puffs, on sale for $1.88
    • $.60 printable MC (BettyCrocker.com) - didn't double?
    • $.50 eCoupon
    • ($.50 SavingStar rebate pending)
    • Total: $.28
  • 4x Sprout Organic Toddler Pouches, on sale for $1.39
    • 4x $.75 printable MC (Coupons.com), doubled to cost of item
    • Total: Free
  • BumbleBee Tuna, on sale for $.69
    • $.69 store coupon
    • Total: Free
  • Food Should Taste Good Chips, on sale for $2.00
    • $.75 printable MC (EverydaySaver.com), doubled
    • $.75 eCoupon
    • ($.75 SavingStar rebate pending)
    • Total: -$1.00
  • 3x candy bars (Hershey/Reese's), $.79 each
    • B2G1 Free eCoupon ($.79)
    • ($.79 SavingStar Friday Freebie rebate pending)
    • Total: $.79 ($.26/each)
  • Wasa Crackers, $1.99
    • $1 printable MC (Wasa's Facebook page)
    • ($1 Ibotta rebate pending)
    • Total: -$.01
  • Peaches, on sale $.99/lb ($1.93)
    • $.98 store coupon ($.50/lb)
    • Total: $.95
  • Sargento sliced provolone, on sale for $2.99
    • $.55 printable MC (SmartSource), doubled
    • Total: $1.89
  • Land O Lakes Eggs, on sale for $2.50
    • $1.51 store coupon
    • $.35 printable MC (Land O Lakes website)
    • Total: $.64
  • Bird's Eye Recipe Ready chopped onions, on sale for $.99
    • 2x $1 printable MC (SmartSource)
    • Total: -$.02
  • Klondike Bars, on sale for $1.88
    • $.89 store coupon
    • $1.50 printable MC (Coupons.com, no longer available)
    • Total: -$.51
Other deals:
  • $2 Catalina coupon from last week
Total out-of-pocket (before SavingStar and Ibotta rebates): $3.35
Total after rebates: -$.44