With the high inflation, buying at a discount may be a good solution for your family. Shopping with coupons can help you buy everything you need without cutting the budget. How to start couponing and benefit from the best deals at local stores?
The whole purpose of couponing is to reduce your out-of-pocket cost.
How to get $1,300 of products for just $53? In this video interview, Bree the Coupon Queen shares tips with consumers on coupons, coupon rewards, and best deals.
- The history of couponing
- How does couponing work?
- How to start couponing?
- Best coupon apps
- How to coupon consistently?
- Coupon expiration date rules
- How to coupon in big stores?
- Top coupon tips
Michael: Bree, tell us about your experience. Who are you and what do you do?
Bree: My name is Bree The Coupon Queen and I teach people through YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok, how to learn couponing, and how to coupon. You can save hundreds of dollars every month on the products you will buy anyway.
A couple of years ago, I was living paycheck to paycheck and was stressed out. I couldn't afford anything. I had buyers' remorse even if I went out to dinner or something like that because I knew I couldn't afford it.
So I started learning how to coupon. Now I'm at the point where I get all the products that I need for free. Sometimes I even make actual money from buying it, and I would always tell my parents about it and let them know the good deals I was getting. I was so excited.
My parents offered me to start a YouTube channel, so I could help other people learn how to do the same things that I was doing. That was during the pandemic. When people were losing their jobs, needed to buckle down on their budgets. So, that's what I do.
What Is the History of Couponing?
Michael: Is there a history of couponing that you can share with us?
Bree: I don't know exactly when it started. I think it's been around for over 40 years. Coupons have changed a lot and now with it being 2022, it can be all digital.
You can coupon using only your phone.
People think of couponing as back in the day when there was a whole binder with all these paper coupons. They have the notion that it takes a lot of time and it's awkward and embarrassing. It doesn't have to be like that. You can do it all digitally.
It's definitely changed over the decades, but I still do use some paper coupons and now we also have rebate apps as well, to get cash back too on products you're going to be buying anyway.
How Does Couponing Work?
Michael: How do you get your money back? You've mentioned that in some cases you actually end up with cash in your pocket. How do you convert your skill to actual cash?
Bree: That is by combining the different sales at the stores. For example, I go couponing at CVS and match the different deals. I match the coupons, and then I use their store rewards to lower my out-of-pocket cost as much as possible. My goal is to always spend $10 or less out of pocket.
Then I might use a rebate app called Fetch Rewards to get a CVS gift card. You're exchanging the points that you get for scanning your receipts, it doesn't cost you anything. Exchange that for gift cards. Now I pay with a gift card. My bank account did not go down at all, it does not know I went to CVS today.
Then, maybe some of the products I bought have cash-back rebates on apps like Ibotta. That way, I paid nothing out of pocket. I submit my receipt to Ibotta. I may get $5, 6, or 10 back. I made $10 buying all of those products at CVS. That's what I teach my students to do as well.
How to Start Couponing?
Michael: The economy is changing and is getting difficult. People will be looking more at coupons. How do you start couponing? What would be the first steps for someone who has never collected coupons?
Bree: The first step is to pick one store. I recommend picking a pharmacy like CVS, Walgreens, or Rite Aid because they have rewards programs. You can then use their reward dollars to lower your costs. I would say pick a pharmacy, download the app, and then get familiar with it.
Look at the digital coupons, start learning how to clip the digital coupons, and read the weekly ad, which is also available in the app. Then you have a kind of a puzzle. You're putting together the deals on products you need with the digital coupons. Then you can start saving 50% or more using digital coupons at one store. You can do those steps until you start getting more and more comfortable with it.
Couponing can be very powerful and it doesn't have to be a ton of time.
Michael: Thank you for your tips. Once I bought one item in the CVS and my receipt was very long. Why is it so?
Bree: Those are coupons that are printed on the bottom of it. That's a good thing that you get a long receipt because that means you have a bunch of different coupons and opportunities to save even more.
What Are the Best Coupon Apps?
Michael: Maybe next time, I'll turn my receipt around and look at the coupons I get. You said that it used to take a lot of time to do couponing in the past because they were all paper. Now it becomes digital.
Are there apps that you would recommend for collecting coupons from different stores and storing them?
Bree: All of your digital coupons, except for Walmart, are going to be on that store's app. The digital coupons for CVS are on the CVS app. The other app you can download is called the Coupons.com app. These are digital coupons as well, which you can use at different stores.
As far as paper coupons, there's no digital way of organizing them. I just use a little coupon binder that I put my paper coupons in, that I get every week.
Michael: When a company discounts its product and services, should we expect the same level of service from the company?
Bree: Absolutely. A product and a service are two different things. I think they're the same in the aspect of using coupons. If I'm going to buy a bottle of Tide at Walmart and it's $12, whether I use a coupon or not, I'm buying that exact same bottle of Tide.
It's not like the product is going to randomly switch or change, or how much laundry versus water is included in that Tide. It's the exact same bottle that you're going to be buying regardless if you like Tide. You may as well use a coupon, and save some money on it. That way you're reducing how much you're spending every single month.
How to Coupon Consistently and Avoid Addiction?
Michael: Is there such thing as coupon addiction?
Bree: Absolutely. Just like with anything. I think it can be a good addiction because you're saving money. The more excited you are and the more you enjoy it, the more you want to do it. I went from spending $200-300 a month, which probably would be more now with the 25% increase in inflation.
A couple of years ago, I was spending $200-300 out of pocket on my paper products, laundry products, razors, toothbrushes, toothpaste—all of that. Then I started getting into couponing and addicted, you would say. Last month I calculated it, I grabbed $1,300 of products and my out-of-pocket cost was $53.
I give it to my friends, and my family, and I can donate it. There's a lot more impact I can have with my skill instead of just for me. I definitely do think people can get addicted. You do have to be a little careful, make sure that you're still couponing the right way, tracking how much you're spending so that you don't get right back up to that $200 or $300 out of pocket.
The whole purpose of couponing is to reduce your out-of-pocket cost.
As long as you're doing it the right way, you have a budget, you're tracking how much you're spending, then it's a good thing.
Michael: When my wife tells me to go to a store ABC to buy something on sale, my first response is, how much gas am I going to spend on the way there and back? From my perspective, we need to take into account the expense of time, and gas.
You need to organize everything properly, I assume. Meaning, the dates until when this coupon is valid. How do you organize around all the different coupons and needs that you have?
Bree: What I do and what I teach my students is to coupon at one store once a week, that's it. You want to be consistent. That way your coupons and rewards don't expire because it's not real money, but it's real money in the eyes of the store.
If you have a $5, it's called an extra buck, at CVS. With that $5, you can go and buy a bottle of Tide. It's CVS money. It works like real money at CVS. If you coupon once a week, then you're getting a bunch of products.
I typically grab a hundred dollars on average of product value and pay $10 or less out of pocket. I don't recommend necessarily running to the store every day when you see a deal because gas is very expensive now.
I teach everyone to do it once a week, on the same day. Figure out what works in your schedule. Each store has a week for sale. In most stores, it's Sunday to the following Saturday. So you have seven days to go to the store, take advantage of those deals and be able to save on those products.
I just edited a YouTube video on how to put together a couponing breakdown. It's like if you go to the grocery store, how are you going to remember everything you need to buy? You've got to make a list. It's the same thing.
I teach in that video, what to put down in the breakdown, what's important aspects, and be as detailed as possible. You can either print it out and take it to the store, or you could even doodle it on the notepad on your phone, and keep it all digital if you want to. That way, you know exactly what products you're getting, what rewards you're getting back, what coupons you're using, the whole nine yards.
That'll also cut down the time. Like you were saying, time versus money. I help a lot of newer coupons, because they'll be spending 5, 10 hours trying to put together a haul, because they don't know yet how to coupon. They don't know all the ins and outs to find their own deals.
What they wind up doing is, watching hundreds of YouTube videos and trying to put deals together. Then, they go to the store, and sometimes it doesn't work out, because they don't understand the mechanics behind it. Being organized is very important.
Then we are getting to the point where you're learning, how to find the deals on your own. That way you're not having to rely on watching 10 people's videos to find one deal on Tide that you need. It'll save you time that way too.
Michael: How do you fight over purchasing? What do you advise consumers?
Bree: Some coupons do clear the shelves. I have never done that personally. Number one, I don't need a huge stockpile, right? There are three people in the family. I want to make sure that I have enough for my family. Then I can give some to my other family, friends, things like that.
I only do deals, one, maybe two times, because I'm couponing consistently and the deals are pretty cyclical. At least once a month, if you like Dove deodorant, it'll be on sale again. It's not like this is the only deal and the only sale that's going to happen for the rest of your life, and you have to grab everything. It's never like that.
You may keep a healthy stockpile. Maybe there are two or three deodorants. Now you get down to one, a sale pops up, and you grab two more. You always have a little stockpile at your house. To me, there's no need to sit there and clear the shelves and things like that. I've never done that.
What Are Coupon Expiration Date Rules?
Michael: How long does a typical coupon last? What happens to coupons during major holiday sales? How do companies usually segregate those two sales: coupons and sales?
Bree: Paper coupons last between two weeks. I've seen coupons with an expiration date of two months. It depends on the product and the sale that the manufacturer of that product is trying to drive. If they want to get a lot of sales, then they'll give one week for only one coupon, or two weeks only for the other coupon.
Some of them extend two months. It depends on what kind of products you're talking about. As for holidays, that depends on what kind of sales the manufacturers are trying to drive. Most of the time, there are deals and coupons, and you stack them together.
No matter what month, week, or day, there are always deals where you can stack the two together.
That's going to be a little different than going to Bath And Body Works or something like that. Even during the holidays, they'll have 20% off your entire purchase or candle day. Sometimes, they'll mail out some coupons, $10 off a $30 purchase. You stack that with the candle day pricing. Now you're getting candles extremely cheap.
They do that to drive as many sales as possible. It's a win-win for the consumer because I love candles and now I can get them super cheap. So I'll stock up during that sale. Then I don't buy candles for the rest of the year. When I use all my candles up, I do it again the next candle day. There always are ways to stack two different deals or sales together.
How Do You Coupon in Big Stores?
Michael: At the beginning of this conversation, you recommended concentrating on pharmacies. What's your opinion of couponing in big stores like Costco, and BJ's?
Bree: I go to Costco. Costco is one of the big stores I love. I've tried Sam's Club and things like that before too, and BJ's. Costco is my favorite. I don't coupon at Costco. I use it to buy all my bulk meats, cheeses, vegetables, and things that I eat consistently because you are going to save more money versus buying them at Walmart.
In my opinion, it's better quality than Walmart meat. I don't buy Walmart meat or produce, so I'll get it at Costco. If you're going to go there, you can buy a bigger amount, I don't know how much it actually is but it's maybe 25 rolls of toilet paper. You may spend, let's say, 25 bucks on it. That is still cheaper than going to Walmart and getting a nine-count of Charmin that I saw yesterday was $19.
However, when you go couponing, I get my paper products, I'll get that same nine roll of Charmin for $2 and 24 cents. That's not necessarily how much I'm even spending out of pocket because I'm rolling my rewards and things like that.
If you coupon at a pharmacy, you can still get all the products that you need, excluding food, but you can still get the paper products, the Tide, the scent beads, and everything you need for even cheaper than in Costco and buy it in bulk. It's still more beneficial.
Michael: Is couponing for everyone? Are there people that are not capable of couponing?
Bree: I have couponing courses on my website, and I have students who are in college taking the courses, which I wish I would've started when I was in college, learning how to coupon, and saving hundreds of dollars every month. I also have seniors in their seventies on strict monthly income.
Couponing is for everyone, and that's why I love it so much because it doesn't matter how old you are.
Whether you make a thousand dollars a month, or $2,000, whatever. Or people on disability, where they have set incomes and they're couponing as well.
Everybody coupons for a different reason, but it doesn't matter where you live, how old you are, or what you do for a living. Anyone can coupon. There are no requirements to buy a coupon. That's why I love it so much because I can teach it to anyone who wants to coupon. If coupons are allowed in your state or country.
Anyone can do it. I never want anyone to get discouraged. You’re not too old or too young for this. Don’t think you'll coupon later. No. Start now. It's a skill and it's something you can use for the rest of your life. There's no harm in that.
What Are Top Coupon Tips?
Michael: What are the top three couponing tips that you will recommend to consumers?
Bree: The first tip is to have a budget. It is beyond important to have a budget. If you don't, you're easily getting right back up to spending $200-400 out of pocket, because you're not tracking what you're spending.
Tip number two is to look at your actual cash cost. I mean by that how much are you swiping your credit card for? Or how much are you swiping your debit card for? When some people start couponing, couponers will post it as, you're spending $30 out of pocket, but you're getting $30 back in rewards, so it's free. But your bank account went down $30.
You want to make sure that you're looking at your cash cost and focusing on that, to make sure that it is as low as possible because that's what you're going to be writing in that budget. Yes, you got $30 in rewards back, Walgreen's cash or extra bucks at CVS, or something like that. That's not real money that you can pay your bills with. You want to make sure that you're focusing on that.
The third tip is, that deals and sales will vary from state to state, region to region, and rebate apps vary. If you're going to be following someone else's deal, take the extra couple of seconds at the house, before you go and run to do that deal and double-check that you have that coupon, that rebate on the rebate app.
You don't want to get to the store, buy the product and you get home and you don't have anything. You spent full price for that product because you didn't take a few seconds before you went to the store.
These are the top three tips to make sure that you are couponing the right way, take it slow, and you'll be able to be successful at it and start saving good money.
Michael: To wrap up this conversation, tell us a little bit about your channel.
Bree: The age of my viewers is between 25 and 65. I've had my channel for about three years. I show deals at CVS, Walgreens, and Walmart. Those are the three stores that I do. I have a new series on my channel every Friday for couponing 101.
As I mentioned, I’ve just edited that video for how to do a coupon breakdown. More behind the deals, behind the scenes. That way people can learn more about how to coupon for themself, but then they can also watch my deal videos where I explain exactly how to do it, and where to get the coupon.
I try to be as detailed as possible, to make it as easy as possible for other people to try it. Because I don't want anyone to get discouraged or frustrated, overwhelmed, or anything like that.
That's what my channel is all about. I try to make it as easy as possible for people to be able to learn and replicate what I'm doing so that they too could pay off debt, save up for a house, a vacation, or whatever their main big financial goal is. Shoot for the stars, have a goal. That's what I teach on my channel.
Michael: Bree, thank you very much!
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