This is the fourth of several Coupons 101 installments to appear on the Centsible Saver blog.
A reader new to couponing asked me how to best use the Centsible Saver coupon database, which made me realize there are probably a lot of coupon rookies out there who would appreciate a little more information.
I update the database each week, logging each coupon we receive in the Sunday inserts contained in The News & Observer. A new version goes up early Sunday morning at 5, making it the most timely and definitive guide to coupons in the Triangle.
You can access the database two ways:
For a quick look, check the small version that appears along the right-hand side of my blog. Simply click on the "view full page" button for a larger version. I have it organized alphabetically by product.
If you'd like to download the database, look for the attachment at the bottom of each Sunday database post. Once downloaded, you can organize the database any way that works for you.
Why do I need to use the database?
If you spot a deal on a national website but don't have the coupon in your organizer, you can quickly check the database to see if we received the coupon in the Triangle.
If you're prepping for a Super Doubles event, you can download the database and organize it by coupon value, from highest to lowest, to instantly see which coupons are in that crucial $1 to $1.98 range.
For a Triples event, organize from lowest to highest, looking for coupons in the 25-cent to 99-cent range.
Reading the coupon database is simple
Column one: The product name, arranged alphabetically.
Column two: The value of the coupon. This figure is written in coupon shorthand, with the first figure being the value of the coupon and the second figure being the quantity you need to buy. The two figures are separated by a slash. So, .50/1 is 50 cents off one. $1/1 is $1 off one. $3/1 is $3 off one.
Occasionally, there will be a coupon with no specific value, such as a buy one get one free coupon. These are denoted "BOGO." Or, if a coupon is for a FREE item, up to a certain value, I will put the maximum value in this space.
Column three: The date the coupon expires. Items in bold are expiring within one week.
Column four: The date the coupon appeared in the paper.
Column five: The insert* in which the coupon appeared.
*Some couponers don't clip their coupons. Instead they save their whole coupon inserts from each week. By knowing the insert in which the coupon appeared, they can quickly locate a coupon when they need it.
SS=Smart Source. RP=Red Plum. Parade=Parade Magazine. If there's a special insert from a specific store in addition to the regular coupon inserts, I typically identify it by store name.
When there are multiples of the same type of insert, they will be designated by adding numbers. For example, SS1 and SS2. On weeks when this happens, you can check the insert key (click the link at the top of the database to the right of where it says Coupon Database). In the key, I will tell you which insert is which by saying something like "SS1 is the one with a Vision Works ad on the front."
And finally, here's a quick glossary of other terms you might see appearing in the data base:
BOGO: Buy One Get One Free
DND: Do Not Double
DND(T): Do Not Double or Triple
ETS: Excluding trial size
MIR: Mail-in rebate
WYB: When you buy