March 2018 / Mainly Marta :: A Motherhood + Lifestyle Blog



What started as a digital diary to document a newfound journey as a stay at home mom / wife has quickly evolved into my own little corner on the internet where I share all that life brings my way -- the good, the bad, and everything in between. Thanks for stopping by; I hope you stay awhile!


Couponing 101 :: A Crash Course

Over the past few months, I've noticed a few moms and ladies on social media asking about couponing and how it all works, so even though I'm not a couponing "expert" and I don't have all the answers, I have found a few ways to make what seems like an overwhelming task a bit simpler.

I started couponing right before my husband started nursing school because with school tuition and student loans, having to stay home with our toddler, and another baby on the way -- any penny saved makes all the difference.

The key to successful couponing is organization and researching before you go shopping. I cannot stress "before" enough. I don't know if it's just me, but the moment I'm pushing a cart in the store, it's like a wave of forgetfulness slams against my brain and thrusts every penny saving bone out of my body. The best way to combat this is being prepared, having a plan before you step inside of the store and staying focused.

Preparing At Home :: Tips & Tricks

Clipping Coupons -- the ones you get in the mail, find in magazines and see in the newspaperPersonally, I find this task rather tedious because it requires me to sit down with some scissors and really hunt for the things I need instead of being able to just write stuff down, but it's something that can be really helpful because a lot of times, there are some great deals hidden in what seems like a mumbo jumbo of items.

I find that clipping coupons with a cup of coffee or tea close by is helpful, turning on a podcast or some music you enjoy makes this process so much smoother! It's important to have time laid aside for this task because a screaming toddler or whiny baby can add unnecessary stress and give you the urge to finish faster. Making clipping coupons an enjoying "me time" type of task makes all the difference.

Keep A Coupon Pouch In Your Bag. I have an oversized pouch in my bag where I keep all my coupons, gift certificates and store member cards. It really helps to have everything that "saves me money" in one place.

Organize + Clean The Pouch Regularly -- get rid of expired coupons, paperclip coupons by store & department, etc. This is probably one of the most important things to do because it'll make the process of shopping so much easier if you already have everything grouped together. One of the things you don't want to do is be in the aisle of the supermarket and shuffling through 50 coupons.

Typically, I paperclip coupons by store, placing the coupons that will expire first towards the front. This way, I can make sure that I don't forget about them. I use sticky notes to label them and place it in the front of each stack.

At the beginning of each month or when adding new coupons to the stack, I quickly browse the coupons I already have and toss the ones that have expired.

Lists -- make them, love them, utilize them. I keep lists everywhere; seriously guys, I have lists E V E R Y W H E R E in the house (on my fridge, on my phone, by my desk, in my notes, attached to my planner, etc). I have lists for specific stores, for the types groceries I need to get and for things I want to buy in the future whether it be books, office supplies or home decor items, it's on a list.

I also duplicate my lists; I do this for two reasons -- seeing a list multiple times and on different devices / mediums helps me remember what I need and it ensures that if I forget one list, I have a back up. It's honestly super helpful if these lists can cross over from your computer and phone because that way if you leave the house, you still have the list with you and it prevents you from having to turn back when you're already half way to the store.

Something that reaaaaaally helps me is when I'm making my lists, I have my coupons nearby and then I add a symbol or a "C" to remind myself that I have a coupon for that item. This helps remind me to actually take my coupons out of my bag when I'm at the store because if I'm going to be honest, I tend to forget more often than not, especially when I have the little one with me.

Research -- research online before you go out to shop. Before going out to the store, make sure you sit down and do some research on the items you need to buy. I know that going to just one store and getting everything you need is so much easier than going to multiple stores, but if you do your research, you'll find that sometimes the savings are worth the extra drive.

Google the products you want and need and see where you can get it for the cheapest price, but make sure you take into account the weight / size of the product when doing so. I find that a lot of times, ordering my things online from specific sites that offer rewards or free products are worth more than making a trip to the store. I've listed some of my favorite apps and websites further down below to help you get started.

Make An Email Account Specifically for Coupons and Sign up for Brand / Store Newsletters. I did this on a whim one day because I was so tired of getting 100+ emails daily from stores and brands that mixed up with my more important emails. Let me just tell you, this has been a L I F E C H A N G E R for me. I now sign up for every brand email -- no shame! Brands and stores send special promotions and discount codes via email, so signing up in store or online when they ask is a must.

Before I go buy clothes or shoes, I just search for the stores I want to go to that day and see if they've sent out any coupons or additional discounts to what they already have in the store -- these are usually at the bottom of the email, so scroll all the way down! If I find something, I screenshot the barcode or coupon and head on out to the store! I screenshot because my phone signal tends to act up when I'm in the store, so I want to have it at my finger tips especially since my phone signal always tends to act up when there are what seems like a million people waiting in line behind me.

Online Shopping :: Helpful Apps & Websites

Here are some of the websites I utilize daily when I'm shopping online and searching for the best deals -- below each explanation, I've linked their sign up pages. I highly recommend using all these apps and websites because they really work and the savings start to add up if utilized correctly. One thing to keep in mind is that some of the cash back apps and sites do not double over, so make sure you look into what site has the best deal because sometimes one site will offer more cash back than the other. 

No. 1 -  Ebates :: I love Ebates because you're literally getting cash back when you shop. I find that the best time to use this app is around the holidays and the week of black Friday because that's when they have the highest cash back rates plus the store's usual sales. What I really love about using Ebates is that they have an awesome feature / plugin that you install in your browser and each time you visit a store online, it'll remind you to enable cash back as well as see how much you'll be getting back percentage wise. If you're like me and suffer from mom brain, that reminder is really helpful. Ebates also allows you to link your card for in store cash back deals, but I've found that the best deals are when you shop online. 


No. 2 - Ibotta :: Ibotta is a grocery cash back app. You get on the app, find offers and then go shopping. When you're done with your shopping then redeem your cash back by scanning your receipts and then get your cash back! It's that simple. You can also link your loyalty cards from stores and then Ibotta won't need a receipt if you've scanned the card at checkout. They give you a 10$ welcome bonus when you sign up, so that's a plus!  


No. 3 - RetailMeNot :: is an app where you can get coupons, promo codes, see sales in your area and get gift cards. You can see deals by brand, stores, free shipping promotions,  and online + in store codes. If you shop online, they also have a cash back section which is nice. I use this site to start my online search usually -- to get a feel of what's the closest deal or if there are any great deals online that I haven't stumbled across yet.


No. 4 - Groupon :: I use Groupon when I'm planning a vacation or when I am looking to do something local because they often have awesome discounts to your favorite places to eat. I've found a few amazing places to grab a bite by just looking to see what promotions local restaurants are offering. They have deals on local spas, family fun centers, getaways, and car services. I also really love their deal of the day section because they have deals on literally everything! It's a great tool to utilize when you're in the mood to do something or go somewhere but don't want to spend a fortune!


No. 5 - Shopular :: This app is powered by Ebates and it's one of my all time favorites. Download it on your phone, make an account and then you pick your favorite stores, so when you go to the home screen, you get to see the best deals your favorite stores are offering! If you already have Ebates, all you have to do is login! 

No. 6 - Checkout 51 :: this app works exactly like Ibotta and is specifically for groceries. All you do is create an account, browse deals, shop, and then redeem your deals by uploading a receipt. Super easy and simple way to earn cash back. 


No. 7 - :: This site has coupons that you can print out -- mostly grocery store coupons, but you can also find for clothing and home brands. I love that you can "clip" them by adding them to your list and you have the option to print them out when you're done. It's a good place to look when you're compiling a shopping list because you can find some great coupons and they really do amount to saving more than just a few bucks if you utilize it.


No. 8 - SlickDeals :: like it's title, this site is a contemplation of "slick" deals found on the internet. My husband always checks this site before we go and make a big purchase on electronics or home items because they also have deal ratings / reviews from people that have used that deal. It's a great place to browse deals and get second opinions!


No. 9 - Grove Collaborative :: One of my favorite places to utilize on the internet because it promotes healthy living as well as saving money. The Grove Collaborative sells all natural, chemical free cleaning, self care and home products. It's a subscription type of service but it's super flexible -- by that I mean that you get to opt out of a month if you haven't run out of your products yet. It's a great place to start if you want to try to use healthier products, but don't know where to start. When you first sign up, they give you 10$ credit to spend which is another bonus.


These are some of the most effective websites I've found on the internet when it comes to couponing and saving money. I know signing up for sites like this can sound overwhelming and can seem like busy work, but it's really worth it in the end. You end up saving hundreds of dollars if you consistently use them.

Things to Remember + More Tips & Tricks 

Organize --  the moment after you clip. I feel like this is super important because it helps you stay on top of it and doesn't give you a chance to lose or misplace coupons. It saves you from having to shuffle through piles of papers and the hassle of realizing you may have thrown away a coupon you really wanted to use when you were tidying up.

Double / Stack Coupons. This is like couponing expert level. If you find a store coupon for a certain item and then combine it with a manufacture's coupon, it's double the savings! Not all stores allow doubling up on coupons, but when you find those that do, shop there more often!

Don't Be Afraid To Price Match -- especially on the items that you already have a coupon for. If you're going to a store that has a "price match" policy, then go ahead and utilize that and research before shopping.

Store Coupon Policies -- know them, print them out, be aware of what they accept before going shopping. This is tedious, I know. But it'll save you money and time if you know where you can get more for your buck.

Buy Only What You Need. This is a tricky one because sometimes you find coupons that are super great, but you may have not had that certain item on your list. I struggle with this one and sometimes, I do buy things that are not on my list -- but I am getting better at walking past the deals that I wasn't initially looking for.

& that's a wrap! 

I really hope you've found this quick "crash course" on couponing helpful. I know that a lot of you have vocalized wanting to learn to coupon, so I hope that this novel of a post gave you something you can walk away with and implement.

Just remember -- the most important thing is to stay consistent once you start and you'll be saving money in no time! Set time aside for couponing and incorporate it into a me time activity and I promise, it'll become like second nature. 

If you have any questions or comments, I'd love to hear from you, so leave me a message down below! 
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