Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Guest Post: How to Keep Track of your Rebates, Coupons and Freebies!

Guest Post by one of my loyal readers, Freebie Fran:

Collin’s site is all about helping us save money, so I thought I’d show you another way to save money. If there are any products that you use all the time and don’t get enough coupons for those items or don’t get coupons at all, you can call the company to request coupons. On most packages you will find their toll free number. Just call that number and let them know that you use their product, then ask if they'd be willing to send you coupons (not every company will send you coupons, but you will find a lot of them that do). Also, ask how often you can call for more coupons.

Okay, at this point you should have the company name, the company phone #, and how often you can call. Now I will walk you through a spread sheet providing you have Microsoft Excel… this is the page that has all the cells (blocks). What I did was type the company name and their phone #, then I highlight, bold, and underline it and use a different color for each company, although black is fine. Directly under the company name I typed in parenthesis how often I can call (once a month, once every 6 months, etc.). Directly under that I type the date I called for the coupons and who I spoke with. That’s it… then you do this for every company you contact. One company can use up to 3-4 cells. You can get 6 companies across the page. The length of the page is pretty much endless. Once you get what you requested, you can either delete the date you called or check it off.

Just remember, every time you make a change in your document, you must save your changes. My save button is on the same line as the print button, or you can hit “Control + S”. When you first get out of Excel, it will ask you to name your document. I use “Coupon Requests”. When you need to go back into Excel, click your start button, click documents, and double click “coupon requests”. Every month, just check your spread sheet to see who you need to call. This can also be done in one of your free notebooks, if you don’t have Microsoft Office.

You can do this with lots and lots of different companies, and you will also get to know the people you speak to. I’ve have actually made a few new friends. New friends and coupons to boot… what more can you ask for!


Here’s something else that might be of help. I’ve often read where some of you don’t remember when you requested a freebie or ordered something on line. You can make a document in Microsoft Word that is quite easy.

I like Microsoft Word because you can alphabetize your list to make is easier to find what you are looking for. Once you are in Microsoft Word, type the company name, the date you requested the freebie, and what you are to receive. If you order things on line, you can include this or make a separate document (your choice). By putting the company name first, you can use “A to Z” at the top to put the company names in alphabetical order (I love this feature). Every time you request something, order something, or do a rebate, you will include it in Microsoft Word. When you received what you expected, you can delete that entry. When you add something new, you will click “A to Z” again. As I mentioned above, you will need to name your document. I use “Rebates” because rebates are included… you can use “Freebies”, or whatever you like.


Hip2Save here: Do you keeping track of your rebates, freebies and/or coupon requests? If so, how do you go about doing this? If you don't, what is your reasoning? Do you feel it takes too much time? I'd love to hear your thoughts!


Anonymous said...

speaking of....did anyone ever get the two free pedometers from the healthcare scoop????

mclovin2save said...

I keep track of how much I spend vs how much I save in coupons. I tack the receipt to a cork board by my computer every time I go shopping and write how much I saved in coupons at the bottom and circle it. At the end of the month I tally it all up and put it in a spread sheet :)

Gina S. said...

Nope, Not yet. I'm still waiting for the Natural Dentist rebate too.
Thank you for the spreadsheet idea! I have been writing it in a mini calendar I got from donating to Human Society but Excel would be so much better.

Gina S. said...

I meant Humane not Human. haha.
That's a great idea too. I think I would have too many receipts to enter by the end of the month. I will try every week. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

I don't keep track of my rebates. I usually only participate in the brands that I am comfortable with (General mills, office Depot, Huggies.....). Knock on wood, but I still haven't had a rebate that I have not received. I suppose that if I was sending in for a lot more that I am not sure of I might, but probably only after I have been burned- I usually learn the hard way :)

Anonymous said...

I use excel similar to Mclovin2save. I keep track of what I spend, what coupons I used(I use the comment option in the cell), and then calculate how much I saved.

Unknown said...

Here are the totals that I havve so far. I only started tracking the end of June this year.
Grand Totals Combined
Original Cost $4,182.68
Store Disc/Card
Savings/Coupons $1,058.73
Total Manufacture
Coupons $931.02
Previous Rewards/
gift cards used $287.74
Cost for Product at
register $1,905.19
Rebates - Cash Back $482.75
Rewards - Received
from store $145.99
Final OOP after Rebates
Rewards $1,422.44
Total Saving $2,760.24

It's great to be able to see the numbers

Erin said...

There is a great spreadsheet available at Iheartwags.com for tracking Walgreens purchases. I love using this one.

Anonymous said...

I have started using Excel to do my shopping list! It comes in sooooo handy. I put my product in and the cost and amount of coupon.....it calculates it and at the end it does the tax and my expected oop..... I am still tweaking it but I really like not having all those little pieces of paper all over my desk with notes.

Rochelle said...

I keep track of my rebates on a Pages document (since I have a Mac). The only company I don't put on there is RiteAid since I can track everything on their site. It's great!

Mom Who Cares said...

I don't keep track of those things, it is to much work to do on top of everything else I have to do.

I already call companies for coupons, and I use rebates. I am like anony 12:11pm. I only do reabtes with companies I am comfortable with - I already know I am saving tons of money and I see what I have and do not have and what I do not need more of by whats on my shelves.

I use excel to balance my budget, do my checking account ledger and things like that.

This is a great idea for those who have time to see exactly to the penny how much they save, I jsut know I am saving money and lots of it and I also know what companies I do rebates with, so I wouldn't bother.

But, definatly nice to share that idea with those who do want to know what is what.

Tawanda! said...

Gina S,

I was wondering if anyone else had submitted the rebates for the Natural Dentist products. Unfortunately, there wasn't a number to call or a website to check to see when it was processed. Fingers crossed!

Mom Who Cares said...

opps posted that responce to soon..


The word "tedious" comes to mind when I think of doing a chart like this - for me. But, liek I said - there are those who are more organized than me, and I am very organized, just not to the point of overboard.

And, I think some people with more time than me and other moms, would find doing these charts rewarding and something to have for bragging rights and self reward feelings :)

Take care -

Lizeth said...

I just started my coupon Journey the beginning of this month. I use excel to keep track of what I spend verses what I have saved!!! It really adds up! I wish I would have started sooner. Thus far I have saved an average of 74%!!!! I have paid $167 on a total of $544!! I could not have done with without all of you ladies!!! Thank you!!!

Mom Who Cares said...

You know - I just thought of something:
You know if I had the time I would like to make a chart of how much time I spend cutting, sorting, buying coupons from ebay and how much I spent on them, online research of free samples and deals posted on 99% your blog Collin, etc, the extra time I spend shopping finding the matching coupon deals, time checking ads from the paper to find great deals and sales, the extra drving and gas used to go to all the extra stores I go etc.. and break it down to how much time a week I spend vs my savings to see how much money I save my family and equal it out to an hourly paying job.

I guesstimate one day that the money I save would equal to a job paying about $15.00 an hour minus all expenses like childcare, driving wear and tear etc... Of course I didn't do it on a chart, it was all in my head. But, hey - wouldn't that be cool to know you are "working at home making an income technically'.

Anyways, I would like to know if orthers have actually fingured that out and how much they were worth in savings in comparison to an hourly/salery job. That would be cool.

Lisa in WV said...

...Nope...no tracking here. Too tedious fer me 2!

cjs said...

I haven't tracked any savings yet because I know I am saving tons more than before couponing (about 4 months ago).....but maybe one day I'll set up a tracking system. I did not know that some companies give out coupons if you request them via the 800 #! Thanks for a helpful post!

BargainFun said...

HI, I make a copy of the rebate form after I fill it out and the upc's or receipts date it put it in my Rebate folder. That way I also have my proof if it's needed.

jamie said...

I don't keep track of rebates, but sometimes wish I did, and might start doing so with future rebates. I am having a hard time remembering what rebates I have done and if I have received them yet. keeping track of them would be good so that If I don't receive one that I was supposed to, I would be able to call the company and find out about its statis! I don't keep track of freebies just because if I receive them Great and if not oh well I didn't pay for them! I think the spread sheet is a good idea!

Anonymous said...

i don't track -- no time. i just know that in the past i spent $800 monthly feeding 6 ppl, buying only generics at Walmart and running out of food, money and medicine sometimes before payday. Now i feed 8 ppl on less than $500 a month, always have what i need before i need it (like children's medicines *before* they get sick) and pay less than half or even nothing for it. That's good enough for me! :)

Anonymous said...

What companies do you call that you have luck on getting coupons?

Unknown said...

All I do right now is keep a notebook in my car - as soon as I'm done shopping, I write the date, the store and how much I spent. That's all I've been able to make myself do :-) I need simple, quick, easy. I've only done two rebates so far and didnt keep track - not a bad idea to keep track of them as they are easy to forget about. I'm finding I need to set a monthly limit as even though I'm saving a lot more money each shopping trip, I'm shopping a lot more and it adds up fast! I've got to let some deals go :-)

Unknown said...

I use excel spreadsheet to plan my shopping so that I can easily tell before I leave the store that all the coupons were deducted & the total was correct.

I use a word document to keep track of my stockpile so that I rotate foods out, and can easily tell what I have when asked to bring food to an event.

I use a word document (printed on both sides of a 5x7 card) and organized by date to keep track of my gift cards, restaurant.com certificates etc. so I use them before they expire.

wompwonp said...

An idea for those who can't/don't have the time for a chart:

I just go back through my credit card statement at the end of the month and add my totals for Publix, Kroger, Wags, Rite Aid and CVS (my stores). This past month I spent $248 before rebates on 4 kids, me and the hubby. That is all of our food, cleaning, paper products, ect. None of us eat out and I pack the kids lunches for school. We have 1 baby in diapers and 1 in Pullups. We are also getting $90ish back in rebates ($20is a "gift of savings cerificate from RA").

I have been couponing (hardcore at least) since March, and this is by far our best month. To me it is enough to see that we are saving at least $500 a month over what we used to spend, and we have more stuff than ever before. All of our needs are met and we can give like crazy to friends, family, and charity.

I don't track it on a spreadsheet, but we clearly save a ton!

Coup said...

For rebates, I do what SH does - I photocopy the rebate information and stick it in a folder. Once I receive the rebate in the mail, I remove the photocopy from the folder.

For freebies, I have been tracking them in a quite extensive list using Google Docs (so I can access it from any machine connected to the Internet!). I keep track of the day that I submit for the freebie and I highlight the row green when I receive the freebie in the mail. I am a very detail-oriented person, so I enjoy tracking all this information. It does take time, but I don't have children yet, so I can afford it!

For grocery shopping, I use Microsoft Money to track how much we spend. All credit card purchases from supermarkets are automatically downloaded to the software and categorized as "Grocery" purchases, which makes it pretty much effortless.

I just started a new spreadsheet to track my usage of newspaper coupons. Our newspaper subscription recently got much more expensive (and I tried to talk them down!) so I am trying to determine how much each newspaper coupon that I use is actually "worth" to me, to see if the newspaper subscription is still worthwhile amidst all the printer-friendly coupons. Once again, this is time consuming, but I enjoy doing this kind of analysis!!

Ann said...

I keep track of all kinds of budget/coupon things with Google documents (spreadsheets). You can put in all kinds of cool formulas so it does all the tallying for you. I have a household budget (usually goes out about 12 months), a current status (short-term budget, paycheck to paycheck, so I can keep track of where every penny is going), and a spent vs coupons monthly log, to keep track each month how much I'm saving by using coupons. Okay, so I just started the monthly coupon log in October ... but it is really keeping me motivated, and excited about how much I'm saving using coupons -- so far since 10/1, I've spent $195, saved $253 (would have spent $458!!), for a total savings of 56%. And that includes only organic produce and dairy products. Next on my agenda is shaving the "total spent" down. Even though I'm saving a bundle, I'm having trouble staying out of the stores - too many good deals to pass by, and thus spending more than I ought to!!

Anyhow, Google documents is awesome, I can quickly access it at my desk at work or at home, making it much easier to stay on top of.

Anonymous said...

i told Nature's Own how much i love their bread (and meant every word of it :) ) through the comment section of their site and they sent me a q for a free loaf of bread! Armour sent me a q for any Armour product free when i complimented them on their pepperoni. C&H did too when i wrote about how i use their sugar.

The Hansen Family said...

The only thing I really track is which rebates I send out for. The freebies to me doesn't seem worth my time, since they are freebies. I'm not all that concerned if I don't get them. With rebates, I usually count that towards my total out of pocket or total savings. All I do is write down the date, what company, amount and a phone number or email just in case I don't receive it. So far I have received everything, but some of my rebates are for $15-$20, so worth it to keep an eye on it.

I also write down just the total amount spent on groceries in a little journal. After each trip, just a quick jot down of the amount and then at the end of each month, I total it up. We are on a very strict budget and pay cash for everything, so I'm trying to keep track of an average grocery budget to see if I can cut back. Nothing fancy at all, but it helps!

Mary Beth said...

At first I just made a note in a little 3 x 5 notebook. But when I really started refunding it was so exciting to see how much money I was saving that I expanded.

Now I have a 3 ring binder in which I've put about a dozen clear plastic page protector sleeves. In the first sleeve, I have a sheet of looseleaf paper with a simple chart: Refund, Date Sent, Amount Expected, Amount Received, Date Received.

When I send in for a refund or freebie, I log it in on the chart. When I receive the refund/freebie, I note what was received (to see if amount is different) and the date received. Then I put a checkmark in the left margin next to the refund so it's easy to see at a glance what has or hasn't come in yet.

I keep copies of each refund submission in the other page protectors, so that I can flip through quickly to find my proofs if I get a letter saying a refund didn't qualify. And I also will put a copy of a refund form that I intend to use (but just don't have all the qualifiers for) in its own sheet protector, too -- that way I can accumulate receipts and upc's, etc. right in the plastic pocket with the form. I log the ones that aren't completed yet onto the list so that I don't forget they're there & need to be completed.

It's a lot quicker & simpler than it sounds, and gives me a lift whenever I see how much money or free products I've gotten back for my time.

Don't keep track of my coupon savings . . . agree with Anonymous 1:09 -- I have a great stockpile that I never had before, and my budget is stretching much farther than it used to (much of it thanks to Collin!).

SuzyQpon said...

The only thing I track are rebates. I like seeing how much I've gotten back and to kind of see how many free products I've gotten. I wish I had taken the time at the beginning of couponing to track how much I save each time I shop - would be neat to see but then again, I'm a spreadsheet freak! :) I just recently emailed a company and they sent me 5 $1 Qs with no exp date. Very cool! I also told my SIL to call a company to get more Qs than what come in the paper (few and far between). She got several too. They are usually happy to hear people raving about their products!

Anonymous said...

Wow it would be great to have so much time! With working full time, a 10 mon old, finishing my degree, and trying to manage just my coupons I cannot even see straight. Wow, you stay at home moms have the life!

Anonymous said...

Dear Anon 2:47 - Well it looks like you had enough time to read this blog, read through the comments to get some tips, and make a snotty assumption about stay at home moms. No one here signs on as a SAHM or non-SAHM, so don't know how you can tell. But there are a lot of very organized, very original people here that want to share the good in their lives.

Please don't try to start the "gum wars" again.

MomDG said...

I know I save appx. 70% on all purchases; that is enough for me. I am doing good to work, take care of my family, and do my coupons. Maybe at the start of the new year I am going to keep track of before and after expenses, but that is the extent of it for me. Half the time it is like a surprise every day when I get to the mail box if there are coupons or rebates there (and I like surprises) LOL!!

Michelle S said...

Wow I do not think my comment was snotty. Jeez I wish I could stay home. What did you think was snotty about it?

Pattil24 said...

Wow this is SO timely! I just started a spreadsheet - just for rebates.

trash2cash4u said...

I don't keep track of freebies; I just am happy when they come in the mail. However, I cannot imagine not keeping track of rebates since this is money down the drain if they don't come in! As others mentioned, I simply photocopy everything that I submit to a company and then I write the date on it for my own records. That way, if I don't receive a check in the allotted amount of time, I can check up on it.

I would like to track purchases more than I do, but I have always been really good with money and we find that my stockpiling works better than setting a budget. That may sound strange to some, but I really work hard to plan my "meals around the deals" and my husband is not a picky eater, so that helps!

I do conduct seminars on using coupons and other money saving methods and so I do tally up my purchases quite often to show my attendees. For example, today at Rite Aid I bought almost all of the free after SCR items, plus a few filler items and purchased 2 of each b/c my mom lets me use her address for rebates and I will end up earning $12 after rebates including paying 7% tax! I take photos of my purchases and then type up a rundown in MS Word of what coupons, RRs, etc. I used and a bottom line figure for instructional purposes.

I don't do this EVERY time I shop, mind you, but it does give me a good idea of my savings ( or earnings!)

Lolo said...

Anon 11:44
In response to your question about the free pedometers, YES I did receive mine about 1 month ago. I had forgotten about them so it was a nice little surprise!

Lynne said...

Did anyone out there receive the free Hugo Boss perfume sample? I remember having an ID number - I lost that - but I know I never received the sample. I keep photocopies of rebates, the freebies - well they are free so I don't bother... As for savings - definitely save 50-70% and always have rebates, coupons or samples coming at least weekly! It takes some time, but Collin and her site really do the tough part - searching for the deals. I've only been couponing since June and I am very thankful to Collin and all of you!

SuzyQpon said...

Lynne - I did get the Hugo Boss perfume sample. Loved the smell but the sample was the size you get in a magazine!

CJ said...

I only keep track of the rebates I send for, so I can make sure I receive the check and so I don't send for the rebate more than once. With all these rebates around, it's sometime hard to remember which ones I've done if I don't keep track.

Unknown said...

How do you use Word Document to keep track of your inventory?
Do you just do an alphabetized list or do you make some sort of table?

Anonymous said...

I got my healthcare scoop pedometers. My friend requested them but didn't leave a comment. It looks like they double-checked.

Anonymous said...

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