I am waiting for someone to create an iPhone app that will allow my scanned coupons to work with my grocery list. I’d love to be able to select “lunch meat” and have the app tell me, “You have a scanned coupon for that. Note it in shopping list?” so that while I”m shopping I’ll know to pull that coupon. Ideally, the app would allow me to check off items on my list and hold them in another list, so that before I get to the checkout I could pull the coupons I want to use before I get to the checkout, but not in the middle of the aisle of groceries. If you can develop that app, I have several customers lined up for you. In the meantime, I have a method of scanning my coupons and exporting them to an excel file that I can use with my shopping list, and it’s not that difficult. The steps are as follows:
The coupon app I use is called Coupon Keeper 2, and it’s not free. Current price on it is $12.99 and I’ve used more than that in coupons, so as long as I can actually use the coupons I clip, it’s worth it. There is a Lite version, and I’m not sure what the differences are.
Adding coupons can be done in four different ways: you can scan the coupon’s barcode, you can do a bulk import of the published coupons, you can type in the barcode and search for it, or you can manually put the information in.
To scan the barcode, find a comfortable position for the phone or import device where you will be able to move quickly from one coupon to the next without having to reposition the device each time you add a coupon. The position shown below is how I hold my iPhone while I’m scanning the barcodes of the coupons, it allows me to position the phone over the barcode and see what the camera sees, then to select the “save” button without moving my hand from the grip I have.
The green lines show where you want to position the barcode within the camera’s view. Once the camera gets a good focus on the barcode, it will capture the image automatically.
As the image is captured, the fields are populated with the coupon’s details, as well as an image of the coupon itself. Select the Save in the upper right. If you already have an identical coupon, you will be presented with the option to add the current coupon to an existing coupon. To manually add a coupon, you just type the information into the fields.
A bulk import is just like it sounds; you select the source of the coupons, by week, then within the source you select the items you are clipping and want to add to your database. My experience with this process is that there are going to be several items in the physical circular that aren’t listed in the bulk import, and the scan process for me is much more intuitive, so I don’t bother with the bulk import, I just clip the ones I want and scan them in.
If for some reason the coupon doesn’t scan (sometimes the camera just can’t focus the barcode well), you can type in the barcode and search. The app will find the coupon in the national database and populate the fields, just as it would with a scan, then you just select Save again.
After you have your coupons entered into the phone’s app, you want to make the information about them available outside of the app, so we’re going to export the data out of the iphone into a file on your computer. So still in the Coupon Keeper app, go to the Settings icon, looks like a little gear, and select Data Management.
Within Data Management, select Export Active Coupons to iTunes. You could select Export All, but that would send expired coupons as well, and there may be some use for that, but not for this purpose.
Now we’re going to go to a part of iTunes you may not have known is there: File Sharing. With your phone connected to your computer and iTunes open, sync your phone. Then find the phone icon up near the upper left corner, and click on it:
In the left column, under Settings, select Apps. Scroll down to the bottom of all the apps loaded on your phone, and the whole screen will scroll up as well. At the bottom of the page, you’ll see File Sharing, and a list of apps that can share files with the computer from the phone.
You should fine a file with today’s date on it. Click once on that file to highlight it and elect Save to…, and navigate to the location you where you want to save it, then click on Save To.
The file has the same file name you saw in iTunes, and it’s zipped, so you’ll use whatever unzipper you normally use (modern systems will do this automatically just by double clicking on the filename).
It unzips it into a file folder, and the folder will have a comma-separated-values file and the images of all the coupons:
You can close the file manager now and we’ll open up Excel. If you are using a different spreadsheet, the instructions should work pretty much the same. So just open the program without opening up a file yet.
Select File, then in the dropdown menu, select Import.
What type of file do we want to import? It’s a comma-separated-value file, or CSV. If you opened the file just on its own, it would open up in a text-editor, and you would indeed see the values, or items in the file, separated by values, and it would be such a jumble that it wouldn’t make any sense. So we’re going to let Excel separate the values for us. Select Import.
Navigate to the folder ExportCoupon, then select the file Coupon.csv, and select Get Data. The next three steps are going to tell the spreadsheet how you want to see the data. The default selections should be correct, it’s a pretty simple file. Select Next>.
Once again, these defaults should be correct, and you should be able to see some of your coupons in the Data preview section. Select Next> again.
These defaults are also self-correct. Select Finish.
For this import, we do want to use the Existing sheet, and it should default to =$A$1, so just leave it there. Select OK.
Your spreadsheet is populated with ALL the coupon data, some of which is not going to be very useful. I keep the columns for Name, Category, Detail, Expiration, Quantity Available, and Value. I delete the columns that I don’t find useful, and I add one column for Item. In that column, I put what I call it in my grocery list. I also make sure the coupon Category corresponds with the category separators I use in my coupon keeper.
Verify some of the expirations, you may see this:
Verify if that coupon has no expiration, or if the database had it wrong, and if so, you can correct it here.
Now you have a spreadsheet of coupons that corresponds to your shopping list (I use Our Groceries, the free version because I don’t mind the ads), and you can sort the items in your spreadsheet so you are using the closest to expiration first, or by whatever else makes sense to you.