I am a busy mom of 4. My kids range from 7 to 14. I began couponing when my older children were 3 & 5. That’s just a little background on my family. Teaching your child about coupons can start at an early age. My kids know what coupons are and how to use them. They started helping me at around age 3. Depending on their age, kids can definitely help us coupon and they are learning valuable skills along the way.
At 3, my kids could sort coupons for me (when I used a coupon binder). Also, beginning around 3 1/2 or 4 years old, while in the store, my kids loved having a “scavenger hunt”. I would hand them the coupon to use when we were on that particular food aisle. It was a fun game. As they got older, they would help out more. Cutting coupons with child safe scissors is a great way to get your child involved. Of course, this would be for older kids, since those bar codes are very important to keep intact.
At 2yrs old, the grocery store was a place they could learn colors, food groups, and counting. Even toddlers can play along!
At around 10-11 my kids would “guess the total”.
Starting early with couponing skills or money saving strategies is very important. Children will learn about the calendar, math, and saving money. The tools you teach them now will last throughout their life, so make sure to get an early start in coupon clipping with your kids. I remember as a child sorting my moms coupons for her. She had a small coupon box, and I thought it was so much fun categorizing them for her. When we were heading to the store I would watch her pull the coupons out to match the sale ads. See how much that impacted me?
Do your children help you coupon?
Couponing is a great way to save money, even if you aren’t an extreme couponer. There’s nothing wrong with paging through the weekly ads and clipping out coupons for the items you need! However, if you decide to try to stretch those coupon dollars a bit further, you might go online to see how others do it—and end up totally lost. The first time I visited a couponing site and saw a phrase like “Bogo w/ mfr coupon,” I thought for a moment that my toddler had changed the language settings on my computer again. Here are a few of the most common abbreviations you may run across when couponing:
BOGO – Buy One Get One. Pay attention to what comes after this phrase—oftentimes it’s “buy one get one free,” but stores are commonly switching to “buy one get one half off.”
Blinkie—Those little dispensers with the blinking lights that dispense coupons in the middle of the grocery aisle, often in perfect reach of a child in a shopping cart who will happily pull out all the coupons you will ever need, are referred to as “blinkies” because of the blinking lights.
Catalina—You know when you buy two things at the grocery store and are taken aback when the cashier hands you a mile-long receipt of coupons? Those coupons come from the “Catalina” machine; hence, they are often referred to as “Catalinas.”
eCoupon—In this day and age even coupons are digital! If you often shop at a grocery store that has a loyalty rewards card you swipe whenever you check out, visit their website. You can often download coupons to your card, so when you swipe your card at check out, those coupons are automatically applied without you having to cut out anything. It’s convenient AND eco-friendly!
MFR—It looks like a terrible disease but is actually an abbreviation for “manufacturer(‘s coupon).” These are coupons offered by the product manufacturers, for instance, Kraft or L’oreal, as opposed to specific stores, like Safeway or Target.
So you want to get on the couponing bandwagon? I don’t blame you, once I got about ten cans of air freshener for about ten cents total after applying tons of coupons (with multiple children and pets, air freshener is always appreciated). But you might be wondering where on earth people get all these coupons. After all, you only get coupons once or twice a week in the mail, but people march into stores with files stuffed full of coupons. Where do they come from?
The Mail—As you probably know, coupons are sent a couple of times of week in the mail. Most come in the Sunday newspaper, but oftentimes some arrive along with weekly ads in the middle of the week. Notice your neighbors immediately tossing their ads in the recycling bin without even looking at them? If they’re approachable, try asking them if you can have their extra ads!
In Stores—Stores often have plenty of coupons scattered about their aisles. Current ads are often displayed in the front of the store with coupons attached. Coupons can be found attached to little displays throughout the aisles, either on tear-away pads or little dispensers. Some stores have seasonal booklets of coupons in the pharmacy or at the customer service desk—take a peek next time you walk past one of those departments!
Online—In this day and age, many stores put coupons online. It saves them money and is eco-friendly. These coupons can either be printed at home for you to cut out and bring into the store, or are digital. Some digital coupons download to your specific store rewards card you show for fuel points, etc., when you check out. Some digital coupons can be scanned directly from an app on your phone or tablet—make sure that screen is bright and your battery is charged!
eBay—Yes, some people actually auction off and buy coupons on eBay. You can buy entire inserts or just a few of a certain coupon you really want. Just be careful to not spend so much on buying the physical coupons that you completely negate any savings you are trying to make.
Where else do you get your coupons?
Because it’s Spring Break, I’d hoped to not have to run around quite as much as usual. However, some deals are worth the trouble of getting out in the cold rather than staying home with a hot cup of somethin’ and hanging out with the family. And, as usual, Sprouts gives me plenty of reason to head over to my local store! Check out this week’s natural and organic deals below.
Bread & Bakery
Alpine Valley Organic Bread, 18 oz – $3.79
Sprouts Tortillas, 9 – 13.8 oz – $1.99
Condiments, Spice & Baking
Celtic Sea Salt, 16 oz – $2.99
Flaxseed Meal, per lb – $1.69
Kerrygold Irish Cheese, 7 oz – $4.49
Nature’s Way Organic Raw Coconut Whole Food, 16 oz – $10.99
Sprouts California Olive Oil, 500 ml – $5.99
Grains, Pasta & Sides
Horizon Mac & Cheese, 6 oz – $1.67
Use $1.00/3 Horizon Mac & Cheese
Final Price: $1.34
Sprouts Organic Tahini, 16 oz – $5.99
Walnut Acres Organic Pasta Sauce, 25.5 oz – $4.99
Cookies, Snacks & Candy
Endangered Species Chocolate Bars, 3 oz – $2.00
Sprouts Organic Tortilla Chips, 10 oz – $2.49
Cafe Fair Organic Coffee, 10 – 12 oz – $8.99
Celestial Seasonings Organic Kombucha, 16 oz – $2.69
Choice Organic Teas, 16 ct – $3.50
Use $1.00/2 Choice Organic Tea
Final Price: $3.00
Coco Libre Organic Coconut Water, 1 ltr – $3.99
Numi Organic Tea, 18 ct – $4.99
Organic India Tea, 18 ct – $3.99
Sneakz Organic Nutritional Drink, 8 oz – $1.69
Sprouts Organic Coconut Water, 17.5 oz – $1.99
PJ’s Organics Burritos, 6 oz – $2.50
Rudi’s Organic Soft Pretzels, 13.5 oz – $3.99
Use $0.75/1 Rudi’s Organic Product
Final Price: $3.24
Julie’s Organic Coconut Milk Ice Cream, 48 oz – $8.99
Aubrey Organics Hair Care Products, 1.7 – 16 oz – 20% OFF
Avalon Organics Products – 25% OFF
Dr. Bronner’s Organic Shikakai Liquid Soap Products, 12 – 24 oz – 25% OFF
Naturtint Products – 25% OFF
Nourish Organic Lotion Products, 8 oz – 25% OFF
Garden of Life Products – 25% OFF
Use $3.00/1 Garden of Life FucoThin or FucoThin Green Product; Limit 1 coupon per purchase
Or use $3.00/1 Garden of Life Perfect Food Raw Product
Or use $3.00/1 Garden of Life RAW Meal or RAW Protein Product; Limit 1 coupon per purchase
Or use $3.00/1 Garden of Life Vitamin Code Product; Limit 1 coupon per purchase
Are you doing more shopping or less during Spring Break?
There is a right and wrong way to coupon. And part of that has to do with how you collect them. There are definitely some dos and do nots. Having proper coupon etiquette will help us all trying to save money through couponing.
1. Don’t steal newspapers. This can be a huge problem in some towns. Unethical couponers have been known for stealing those Sunday papers before you can get outside. Don’t do that!
2. No copying. This includes both internet and any other kind of coupon. You can actually get into a lot of trouble for this, so don’t try it.
3. Leave blinkie coupons for others. You know those little red blinking boxes at the store? Don’t be tempted to take a ton of them. Leave some for the rest of us.
4. Don’t print multiple off the internet. Usually a coupon allows 2 coupons per household. Don’t go changing IP addresses and such to print more.
5. Don’t be sneaky. Sometimes coupons “look” like another product or the size is off and the computer doesn’t catch it. Don’t do that. Use the coupon for the appropriate product.
And don’t forget, you can always leave coupons behind for other people. Along with being an ethical couponer, it’s awesome to help others 🙂