I have so many friends asking me for tips and tricks on how to get started with couponing. So I'm going to hit several friends and some people I don't know with one article. These are strategies that worked for me and I'm hoping they will work for you too.
Gather a Coupon Stockpile
Unless you have a stash of coupons already, you're going need to start collecting them. Before I found out about printable coupons and apps, I was buying 2 or more Sunday Papers per week. There were times when there weren't any in the paper. I was so mad. Then I found this website called "Sunday Coupon Preview". I still buy the papers, but I found out, on Wednesdays, some libraries and courthouses have free newspapers with coupon inserts.
There are several websites that have printable coupons. Here are a few that I use:
A lot of grocery and drug stores have digital coupons to use within their stores. Sign up online at your favorite store's website. Several drug stores give cash back when purchasing different products. Use the cash back you earned during your next visit.
Now that you have a good group of coupons, it's time to get organized. Here's what you will:
- 3 ring binder (3" or larger for an expanding coupon stockpile)
- Coupon Sleeves (they range in several sizes and found on Amazon)
- Dividers (separate you coupons in a way that is convenient for you)
- Envelopes (optional, but I use them to separate transactions)
Amazon Price: $12.34 Buy Now
(price as of Apr 11, 2014)
You can find a lot of blogs and websites that offer great deals and ways to save. When searching for sales online, here are a few things to look for:
- Easy to navigate
- Site lists products with corresponding coupons, and which inserts they came from
- Links to the printable coupon for that deal
- Have an up-to-date coupon database
- Have the stores where you shop the most
- Allow you to create a shopping list
Here are my often used sites to get you started:
- CouponMom - My favorite! Sign up for a free account and you gain access to search for deals by state and store. The site lists items least to greatest alphabetically, manufacture coupon date, sales prices, register price, final price, and percent saved. Your selected items get emailed to you with the suggested amount you will spend at the store.
- MojoSavings - Great site to go to if you are looking for freebies and items less than $1. They also meet the criteria I listed before. They also have some great DIY articles as well.
- StockpilingMoms - Meets the criteria as well. They also have a lot of other things for you to check out, like recipes, gluten-free articles and recipes, giveaways, and tons more.
- CouponProBlog - Is packed full of freebies and sweepstakes. They also have a lot of great deals that you may not see on other sites.
What ever site you decide to go with, be sure to check out your store's "COUPON POLICY". Store websites also have an up-to-date listing of their coupon policies as well. You may see some great deals, but make sure to take care of your research to get the most savings.
Check and Double Check
My last tip is, "Check & Double Check".
- Read your coupons
- Make sure they are not expired
- Some coupons only allow you to use a certain amount per transaction. This is where those envelopes that I mentioned earlier can come in handy.
- Certain stores let you "stack" them. This means that you can combine an in-store coupon with a manufactures coupon for an even bigger savings
- There are stores that accept "competitor" coupons. They accept at different places.
- Read the coupon policy for the stores you are going to
- Some stores double coupons at face value, up to a specified amount. Ex: a .50 cent coupon would double to a $1 at some locations.
- Sometimes, there are stores that don't accept printable coupons.
- Prepare for out of stock items
- You get to the store, and don't see what you're looking for. Keep in mind, you are not the only one that spotted a great deal. So be ready. You can substitute the items that you are missing, or you can do without. That's up to you. Some stores allow you to get a rain check on sales item, and keep that sales price when the product is back in stock.
- Have your list
- Be sure to have prices before and after coupons.
- Include product quantities and make sure you have the right amount of coupons to cover that amount.
- Plan your trip
- If you have several stores that you will be going to, you might want to plan where you are going first. I like to go the farthest out and end my shopping trip closest to my home
- Ask questions and watch the register
- If something didn't ring up the way you expected it to, ask questions. Confirm dollar amounts and make sure your totals come out right.
My biggest tip for you is: HAVE FUN! Yes, your mission is to save money and come home with a trunk full of groceries for a low price, but you must have fun. Like any other hobby, you want to enjoy what you do.
If you don't already have a lot of storage space. You may want to consider purchasing some heavy-duty shelves. They will come in handy for storing your growing stockpile. Even if you are not a stockpile person, there is nothing wrong with the added storage space.
With these tips, you shouldn't have any problem seeing savings at the register. When learning anything new, practice makes perfect. The more shopping trips you go on, the more savings you will see. Don't stop here. Continue studying, and stay organized. Happy shopping! Happy saving!