This is a safe zone, so you can admit it. You’ve watched someone check out with a stack of coupons as thick as a box of playing cards and shook your head irritably. Or maybe you’ve watched someone’s grocery bill go from a few hundred dollars down to under $20 after the cashier had processed all the coupons, and you thought ‘I want three hundred dollars worth of stuff for twenty bucks!’
A lot of individuals are impressed with the amount of money people can save with coupons, and they might think that they’d like to get into couponing themselves but aren’t sure where to start. Rest assured, it’s easier than you think! The trick is knowing how to get the most savings, and that’s what we’re going to share with you today. Feel free to save this post and refer back to it when you need it.
Step 1: The Coupons
You already know that in order to save money, you’re going to need some coupons. If you’re anything like me, when I first started couponing, I looked in the Sunday paper to find maybe 10 or 12 great coupons I could use. Then a very baffled look came over my face and I wondered how that woman at the grocery store had enough coupons to fill a giant binder that she had organized with laminate card protectors. So, there are a few different places you can get your coupons:
The Sunday Paper
This is one of the best places to find coupons; inserts are placed which offer a variety of coupons for various products. If you want to start small, you can just purchase one newspaper but many people go all out and purchase 3 or 4 in order to stock up on products that are on sale.
You can also get coupons online. There are a slew of sites that offer up the latest coupons, and you just need to print them out to be able to use them. A simple Google search will turn up more results than you could ever pick through, but one great coupon site is RetailMeNot.com. You can go to the website, type in the manufacturer or store you want, and see the latest coupons available from those companies.
Apps for Your Smartphone
Things are even easier when it comes to couponing now, because you can take advantage of apps that provide you with the latest coupons. Again, a simple search of the App Store will allow you to find these apps.
Once you’ve started to amass a little collection of coupons, you’ll be ready to go. One important thing to remember when searching for coupons is to find coupons for the things you actually use. Don’t purchase 10 packages of Cool Whip because you can get it for $.25 a package if your family never eats Cool Whip. That is the total opposite of your goals here.
Treasure Hunting for Coupons: The places mentioned above are not the only places you can get coupons from. If you pay close attention, you can find products at the store with manufacturer’s coupons attached. That’s a big win if you’re already planning to purchase the item. Another great place to check is the back of the store receipt, as many stores print coupons to use during your next visit. For instance, some Dollar General stores offer coupons through the week that give you $5 off your next $25 purchase.
Step 2: Organizing the Chaos
Now that you’ve started finding helpful coupons, you’re probably going to gather them up really quickly. This is especially true if you’ve asked friends and family members to start saving them for you. While you don’t have to go all out with a binder and dividers and color-coded product categories, it is important to get organized. This will allow you to access specific coupons quickly and will prevent you from forgetting to take advantage of any coupons.
A very simple and helpful way to organize your coupons is to purchase a small recipe box and divide the recipes into whatever category is easiest for you. If you want, you can divide it by the type of item (groceries, cleaning supplies, paper goods, etc.), the brand, the date or however you want to do it. Then, before heading out to shop, grab any coupons you want to take advantage of and off you go!
If you really get into couponing and amass an even larger collection of coupons down the road, you can always switch to a more efficient method for you.
Step 3: Tips for Getting the MOST Savings Out of Your Coupons
What takes couponing from ‘Cool, I just saved $4.00 in coupons on my grocery bill’ to ‘OMG DID YOU SEE ME GET ALL THAT STUFF FOR $3 AND SOME CHANGE’ is learning how to get the most out of your coupons.
Take Advantage of Store ‘Doubling’ and ‘Tripling’
Many different stores will have “Double Coupon Days” or “Triple Coupon Tuesdays” where your coupon will be doubled or tripled. So, instead of saving $.50 on that can of Progresso Chicken Noodle, you’ll actually save $1.00, or $1.50. Now, knowing that a can of Progresso soup doesn’t cost more than about $1.50, you can see why double and triple coupon days are special. Many times, it results in FREE STUFF. So, find out which days your local grocery store doubles or triples coupons. Here is a fantastic resource you can use to find out which stores in your areas double or triple coupons.
Utilize the “Stacking Method”
Now, you probably already know that you can’t use more than one manufacturer’s coupon for one item. However, what you can do is stack your manufacturer’s coupon on top of a store coupon for the same item! So, let’s say you get a manufacturer’s coupon offering $.75 OFF a loaf of $3.00 bread. Then, you realize that the store has a $.50 OFF coupon for the same brand and size of bread. You’re going to save $1.25, making your bread just $1.75 instead of $3.00. Imagine if the store was doing double coupon day – your coupons would be worth $2.50, so you’d get your $3.00 loaf of bread for $.50!
Whenever you can, stack your coupons so you can save more money. This is another big reason why Step 2 is so helpful; staying organized can help you keep track of which coupons you get, so you immediately know whether you can stack your coupons or not.
Wait Until an Item is On Sale
Another way to save big when using coupons is to catch an item on sale while you have a valid coupon. Making sure you have your neighborhood grocery stores’ ad papers is important, as it can help you keep track of sale items. If you shop at a grocery store that does price-matching, you can also take advantage of the same method. If a bag of grapes is originally $3.99 but it’s on sale for $2.49 at your local grocery store, and you have a manufacturer’s coupon for $.50 off, you will get the $3.99 grapes for $1.99. If it’s double coupon or triple coupon day, you will receive the grapes for $1.49 or $.99. Make sure to read your grocery store’s policies, as some sales cannot be combined with coupons.
Did You Know: If you’re able to catch a sale when you have a coupon and it’s double or triple coupon day, it’s possible that you will end up with MORE MONEY than you had when you went to the store. That’s right! If a 2-Liter bottle of Coke is on sale for $1.00 and you have a manufacturer’s coupon for $.25 off and a store coupon for $.50 off AND it’s double coupon day, the store will actually PAY you $.50 AND give you the bottle of Coke. It just doesn’t get any better than that!
Some Important Tips for Benefiting with Coupons
Now that you know how the process works, the following tips can help ensure that you utilize the world of couponing for good; after all, with great power comes great responsibility.
- Read Up on Store Policies – The very last thing you want to do is head to the checkout counter with 6 bottles of Gain laundry detergent and a handful of coupons only to find out that the sale the store is offering limits customers to only 2 bottles. It’s embarrassing and can be a serious downer that makes it more difficult for you to use coupons the next time you visit. Don’t get discouraged by making this mistake. Reading up on store policies helps you understand what you can and can’t do when couponing, so that you can respect the store’s rules and avoid embarrassing situations.
- Know When To Stockpile and When Not To – I’m sure you’ve seen friends’ pantries and let your jaw hang open in shock at the 25 boxes of Raisin Bran cereal. Or, you might have seen ladies on Facebook sale sites trying to sell off some of their stockpiles. While it can be good to stock up on certain things (non-perishable items, for instance), you really don’t want to overdo it or have a bunch of items that go to waste. After all, the couponing thing is all about smart shopping.
- Get Involved with a Group of Couponers – You can really benefit from becoming active with a group of individuals who like to coupon. You can get great tips, trade receipts, and even gain a shopping buddy or two.
There you have it – our Beginner’s Guide to Couponing! I hope it helps you save money and really benefit when shopping. If you already coupon, do you have any tips that we haven’t added? Please feel free to share them with us in the comments below!