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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Canadian Couponing

OK I admit it, I'm fascinated by this Extreme Couponing show on TLC.  They go in with coupons and come out with 4 carts of groceries for less than $50 bucks every time! It's insane!! But guess what fellow Canadians, that just doesn't work here.

Why? Well we have rules on our coupons, and our stores don't have slack policies like the ones of our Southern neighbors.  Our coupons have limits per items purchased, and limits of how many coupons you can use (not 50 of the same in one visit like you see on the show).  Their stores do double and triple coupon savings where ours definitely do NOT. A lot of their stores allow overages which are basically $ back if the coupon is more than the sale price of the item.  Only one store that I've found has a policy that will allow this in Canada and that's Walmart (American company, go figure).  Some of their stores offer coupons to be used at the next visit that are issued on the purchase receipt (they call these Catalinas) but there is only one store that I know of that does this here too and that's Safeway.

So how do we Canadians even begin to save that kind of money? Well, I'm learning as I go, and I've only just started but here's some of the awesome things I have found so far.

You have to get coupons first and foremost. You can't use them if you don't have them! So where do you get them? Newspapers, magazines, stores, online, they are EVERYWHERE when you open your eyes and start looking!

Newspapers usually have a weekly flyer bundle that comes out before the weekend (ours is Thursday) which is good to have, you want to know where the sales are. I've noticed that once a month (approx) there will be a coupon flyer in one of these papers. They are EASY to miss so keep your eyes open. If the deals are good, I would consider purchasing a couple more papers. I'm serious if the coupons are great, the couple dollars you spend on the papers won't even matter!

Magazines are a good place to look for beauty coupons and things. Sometimes you can get them free by asking people in your office to bring them in when they are done but remember there's expiration dates so make sure you check them before you get too excited. I've also recently heard about a magazine distributed by Walmart called All You.  This magazine has coupons in it and is only a couple dollars to purchase (again worth buying more than one if the deals inside are ones you'd use).  I've not had the chance to confirm All You's availability in Canadian stores, but you can order the subscription from their website from Canada so my hopes are high.

Stores are a great place to find coupons. When I was young, money was tight and my mom used coupons a lot especially for baby items when my little brother came along. I remember when we'd go grocery shopping I would take the stroller and keep him busy wandering the aisles looking for coupons.  They are still there but they're harder to find! You really have to keep your eyes open and 'scout' for them. They quite often will be in a machine that dispenses them but this machine might be hard to see. Just scan the shelves and anything sticking out from it could be a coupon.  I just picked up 9 in one store for a total of more than $23!

Online is a wondrous new world for people looking for coupons. There are forums where you can share your deals and look for others people have found. There's even instruction videos from some of the long time couponers that you can watch! I have found four websites so far that offer the ability to register, then choose the coupons you want and have them mailed to you at absolutely no cost! I'm sure there's others out there but I haven't found them yet, if you know of some let me know so I can check them out. Here's a list of the ones I've used so far.
I just found that last one this morning actually and I should mention they do have free samples available from time to time and are also the same as the coupon flyer I mentioned above. It actually tells you on the website that the next one will be issues June 5, 2011! How's that for a good tip!

I'm going to stop there but I'll be back with more info on HOW to use coupons for the best benefit and other tips I've found to save $ so start collecting those coupons and if you have any tips for me please leave a comment and let me know!

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