This is a love letter. E-Coupons are the most wonderful thing that ever happened to coupons. Seriously, if you don't currently cut coupons and have no desire to, you can still hop on the e-coupon train and save money with minimal effort. And for anyone who has ever bothered to cut coupons, prance into the store, and end up arguing with some teenage cashier, e-coupons will change your life. So anyway, on to the details.
There is only one local store where you can use E-Coupons, my beloved Safeway. (I seem to be a bit melodramatic today, sorry about that). Of course you already have a Safeway club card, right? All you have to do is create an account at the 3 websites where you load e-coupons, enter in your Safeway club card info, and away you go.
Cellfire is my favorite site. Once you have created an account and entered your Safeway card info, you can load coupons to your card. I love Cellfire, because they are very consistent in how they make new coupons available; every other Tuesday, there is a new batch available to load, and the oldest batch that you have loaded expires the day before. So for example, right now I have a coupon for Nature Valley granola bars, $1 off 2 boxes, and it expires on 5/17/10. The coupon had to be saved by 5/3/10, so it is no longer available, but there's a good chance that the same coupon will be available to load on 5/18/10. I brought up the granola bars because they coincide with a sale at Safeway right now, but a better example might be Bisquick; I have 2 cellfire coupons for Bisquick right now, both for "Save $0.75 when you buy 20 OZ. OR LARGER Original Bisquick® OR Bisquick Heart Smart® Baking Mix, OR 10.6 OZ. Bisquick® Shake n Pour® Pancake Mix." One expires on 5/17, the other on 5/31. If I buy this product, BOTH of these coupons will come off when I enter my Safeway card at the store. Like magic! The cashier doesn't even know that you have e-coupons, they don't have to approve it or anything. So what follows is that you can use a paper coupon on this product too, and it will work without any problems. My disclaimer on this is that I can't imagine it will be like this forever, the savings are too ridculous, but for now I am using e-coupons like crazy! So now that you've set up a Cellfire account, move on to Shortcuts here, and then P&GeSaver here.
So here's how I keep the e-coupons straight; when I get the Wednesday grocery ads, I make sure to check Cellfire and Shortcuts to see that I have added all of the available coupons. Like I said, Cellfire makes new coupons available every other Tuesday, but Shortcuts does it randomly, and P&G coupons are good for a lot longer, maybe a quarter (they all expire at the same time, and then a whole new batch becomes available). Because I am a super organized couponer, I enter all my e-coupons into a spreadsheet, so that I can look accross the list and see what items I have multiple coupons for. There are plenty of e-coupons for things I don't buy, but I still record all of them, because when food items become free, even if I don't want them, I buy them and donate. I know people criticize coupons as being for only processed food, and there are definitely plenty of those available, but someone in our area is hungry and if you can help while saving money, I bet that you will. I keep a donation bag hanging in the garage, and when I bring something home for donation, it goes straight into the bag.
So here's an example of a transaction that I will be doing this weekend, based on the current Safeway add. They have a buy 4, save $4 deal on cereal and granola bars, and this is one they have pretty often. The prices I am listing are AFTER the promotional savings. I will buy 3 boxes of Nature Valley granola bars, which are $1.50/box, and use a paper coupon for $1 off 2 boxes that I got in a mailer, and another paper coupon for .40 off 1 box from here. Once that is doubled, I will have saved 1.80 off a $4.50 purchase, but then my e-coupons come off, and I currently have $1 from Cellfire, and .40 from Shortcuts. So, after that I end up spending 1.30 on 3 boxes of granola bars, or .43/box. I have to buy 4 (or more) items to get the promotional pricing, so I will also buy 2 boxes of Cheerios, also at $1.50 each. I have a Cellfire coupon for $1 off 2 boxes, and I will use 2 paper coupons for .55 off each from here, which will double to $1. So after that I end up spending only tax on 2 boxes of Cheerios, yeah! By the way, it's been confirmed that you don't have to buy in multiples of 4 to get the promotional pricing, as long as you have at least 4 you'll be fine, up to a limit of 20 items.
So, I know that all seems a bit complicated, but once you start doing it, it will get easy, I promise! Using coupons is a skill, and you have to develop it just like any other skill, so if you want to learn how to get 3 boxes of granola bars, and 2 boxes of Cheerios for $1.30, just stick with it, ask questions, and keep reading my blog! My other comment on using coupons is that I think it's fun, which may sound weird, but really makes it easier to approach, like a game. If you don't enjoy it, there are other ways to save money on groceries, and I definitely don't use a coupon for everything that I buy, so stay tuned and we'll cover other techniques too!