Thursday, March 12, 2009

Making the Most of the Sunday Paper

As I've mentioned before, I'm a couponer. Though I do print coupons from the internet, order them from eBay, load them onto my Kroger card, clip them from magazines, and pick them up when I'm out and about, my primary source is the Sunday paper. If you want to take full advantage of the really great grocery deals, you buy your products in quantity, and it helps if you have multiples of each coupon.

Finding the best newspaper.
Not all papers carry coupons. Some areas have only one newspaper available to them which carries coupons. Some areas have a few to choose from. And couponers from some regions have to try to get papers from large, neighboring cities in order to find any coupons at all. You can look on each coupon company's website to see which papers have coupons in your area. Proctor & Gamble has a coupon book that comes out only once a month. For this reason, many couponers will purchase several papers on P&G days since there will be no more P&G coupons for another month. (By the way, this Sunday is the day that P&G is putting out their book for April!) Red Plum/Valassis has started mailing their inserts in some regions (like mine, unfortunately,) but there are a lot of newspapers that are still carrying it. Check the list and see if there is one in your area. SmartSource is the most commonly found insert, and occasionally has a dual issue, where there are TWO (2!) different coupon booklets in the same newspaper, in addition to the P&G and RP that would usually be there. That's another Sunday that it's beneficial to get several newspapers. The next SS dual issue is scheduled for April 5.

Where to get your paper
Once you determine which newspaper(s) to get, you have several options on where to get that paper.
  1. Subscribe for at-home delivery. Most newspapers have a lower rate for Sunday-only delivery. This saves gas and you can often find deals to make this cheaper than buying them individually at the store. I use my home-delivered paper to determine whether or not the coupons are good enough for me to go out and buy more copies.
  2. Gas stations, grocery stores, and drug stores often carry the Sunday paper. Price-check these, though. In many cities you can find different prices on the same paper. I know in some areas you can get the Sunday paper at the Dollar Store for $1! However, these papers are not guaranteed to have coupons in them, so look through each paper BEFORE buying it to make sure they are there.
  3. Sunday night can be a great time to go hunting for extra papers. Many stores or gas stations will sell you the papers/inserts for a reduced price, or even give them to you for free. Be sure to get them before pick-up on Monday morning, though.
  4. Your family and friends may get the paper and not use the coupons. It never hurts to ask. It can be especially helpful if they live in a different region from you, because their coupons will probably be a little different than the ones from your paper, so you get more variety and a better chance to get some of those high-value coupons!
  5. Recycling bins can be a great source for coupon inserts. There are so many people out there who just toss the inserts out with the paper because they think (as I did) that coupons are more trouble than they're worth. Though I think going through people's trash is too gross to even consider, the paper-only recycling bins can provide a clean source of free inserts.
  6. Many public libraries have a coupon-trading bin located somewhere near the door or the newspaper shelf. Ask at your local library. It's a great chance to drop off some coupons you have but don't need (Rid-X Septic Cleaner?) and swap them for ones you do need (Huggies!)
  7. Ebay is a great source if you're looking for one particular coupon. For example, a few months back there was a coupon out for $1/1 Juicy Juice. Even though I dilute the juice in our house to about 1/4 juice, 3/4 water, we still go through the juice! When I found out that coupon was available somewhere, I went on ebay, searched, found, and bought a set of 20 for $7. And yes, $7 was worth it when Kroger had a sale and I was able to buy 20 bottles of Juicy Juice for $0.99 each!
  8. If you'd rather purchase 5 coupons (instead of ebay's 20-coupon set) try a coupon-clipping service. You can order however many coupons you want and the clipping fee is minimal. Check out Coupons & Things by Dede, The Coupon Master, The Coupon Clippers, CentsOff, or Coupon Clipping Crew.
  9. Join a coupon train! Check out A Full Cup, Hot Coupon World, or Coupon Mom to sign up for a train. An envelope of coupons will be sent to you. You take out the ones you want, replace those with ones from your collection that you don't want, and send the envelope on to the next person.
  10. Finally you can trade coupons with people from A Full Cup, Hot Coupon World, or Coupon Mom. It's like Christmas when you get an envelope in the mail full of coupons that you know you will use!
I hope this helps you open your eyes to different ways to get the newspaper coupons you want. Next Thursday we'll explore how to make the best use of in-store coupons.

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