When I was a kid I used to help my Mom with the grocery shopping. She’d clip coupons on an occasional basis. I was fascinated at the thought of buying more for less thanks to those magical pieces of paper. As I got older, I realized why Mom did it on occasion - because you wind up with piles and piles of little pieces of paper that just clutter up things! And to make matters worse, nearly ¾ of them expired before I could get to use them! So, I gave up for a while. Then I started clipping again because I have since learned some tricks of the trade that can help. So, here are some key points or Couponing 101:
1. Do Your Homework
If you’re old school like me and prefer to read a book as opposed to doing internet research, you’ll love this book from the ladies behind www.theKrazycouponlady.com . There’s a bunch of different websites with helpful tips out there, just do your homework.
2. Read the Fine Print on Each Coupon
If a coupon reads “one coupon per purchase”, you can use multiple manufacturers’ coupons on the same products in the same purchase. In other words, don’t make a rookie mistake and make separate purchases and separate transactions and perhaps even do it on separate debit or credit cards. That’s the mistake I made “back in the day.” Now I have learned the difference between “one coupon per purchase” and “one coupon per transaction.”
3. Think Small
For the longest time, my husband and I were under the impression that we’d save more money at the warehouse grocery stores buying in bulk. But if you have multiple manufactures coupons, you can save more by buying in smaller quantities, especially, if you stock up on store coupons.
4. Buy More Than One Sunday Newspaper
From my experience, you’re not going to get the most ‘bang for your buck’ if you purchase only one Sunday paper per week. If there are a lot of great coupons one week, buy more than one paper. One recommendation is to buy one newspaper per family member.
5. Do a Coupon Swap with Your Friends and Family Members
This is good money saving tip if you’re on a strict budget. Find fellow “couponistas” to trade coupons for products that you can’t use but they can, and vice versa. You’d be surprised how many good deals you can find this way, and it can be fun.
6. Print Coupons from the Internet
Please be careful with this as some websites are legit and others are not. Some websites will even figure out which sales go with what coupons, like Coupon Divas.
7. Bring a Shopping Buddy
Designate a shopping buddy as the coupon holder. They can help me spot a deal since my brain can only hold so much information!
8. Stock up on Dry Goods
One thing I did learn from watching Extreme Couponing on TV is that it is a good idea to stock up on items that do not have an expiration date (e.g., toilet paper, shampoo and deodorant). It’s better to buy more of these now at a lower price than spend a bundle in the long run.
9. Get Organized
I’m a visual person and don’t like the idea of using an accordion file to separate my coupons, but my husband does. One website suggested using clear baseball card holders, which you can buy at a specialty Baseball or Comic Book Shop in your area. Whatever way you choose, organizing your coupons is a big part of being able to capitalize on deals, so figure out what works for you.
Couponing isn’t for everyone, but for those who are willing to invest the time and patience it can benefit in the long run. Being able to stretch your dollar further and keep more money in your pocket or savings account are good reasons to clip or print. That’s why I do it! Tell us about your shopping tricks or coupon deals in the comments below.