If you've ever caught an episode of Extreme Couponing or found yourself in line behind someone wielding a binder of coupons, you might be intrigued about where to begin. Of course, you can save money by coupon clipping, using digital coupons, or printing coupons found online without taking things to that level. Whether you're interested in snagging your favorite soap for $2 off or building up a store of household goods and items, you'll find something helpful in the tips below!
When you begin looking up information for couponing tips, it's easy to get overwhelmed. A lot is going on between store coupons, manufacturer's coupons, stacking, and so on. It may feel like it's too much, but remember you don't have to do everything at once. You can start with a small number of coupons for your first transaction.
Pick a number you feel comfortable with, whether that's three, five, ten, or whatever works for you. Choose your store, find coupons, pick your items, and match everything up. By starting small, you have a chance to experience using coupons and see the payoff.
Learn the Store Policies
Couponing policies aren't the same across the board. Some stores only accept a single coupon per transaction while others allow multiple coupons. You may be able to stack in some grocery stores, but only be able to use one manufacturer coupon in another. Before you go into a store with all of your carefully collected coupons, familiarize yourself with their coupon policies. It'll save you (and the cashier) a lot of time and possible disappointment.
Check the Expiration Dates
Coupons have a specific expiration date, so if you collect paper coupons or manufacturer coupons, go through your stock often. Move the closest expiration dates toward the front of your stack and use them first. Otherwise, they'll go to waste. It's an important part of developing a couponing system.
Find a Source
There was a time when coupons showed up fairly frequently in the mail. That doesn't happen as often anymore, especially if you don't have a newspaper subscription, but there are plenty of convenient ways to find coupons online. Depending on the source, you may print coupons or clip them digitally.
- Sign up for retailer mailing lists
- Visit sites like Coupons.com
- Download apps for your favorite retailers
Check the Details
On the bottom of every coupon, you'll find the fine print. Make sure you read it! Whether it's a store coupon or a manufacturer's coupon, it will likely have specific requirements for use. There might be a size limit (such as "no travel size") or a required quantity to receive the discount. Additionally, you typically can't use coupons on things like the store brand, but it's always best to check!
Make a Shopping List
If you really want to get the most out of your couponing, make a list of what you're searching for. You'll waste less time going back and forth through the aisles searching for everything, and you'll run less risk of forgetting something you have a coupon for! Sometimes, you can even find a store map and really lay out where you're heading and how to locate each item you have a coupon for. If you're interested in the extreme coupon version of this, saving time is second only to saving money!
If you make a shopping list, you can also pair your couponing with cashback items. Some deals may overlap, so you'll earn and save as you shop. That's hard to beat.
Set Up a Stockpile
People coupon for a variety of different reasons. Sometimes it's the thrill of the hunt, other times they need the significant savings it offers, and for many, they're hoping to create a stockpile of certain items.
It so happens that many non-perishable household items like paper towels, soap, toothpaste, and so on are often included in coupons. Extreme couponers in particular amass enormous amounts of those items. Some use them and others make large donations to charity from their stockpiles. Whatever your plans may be, starting a stockpile with some surpose is a great way to use all those fantastic coupon finds.
Just because you get a coupon doesn't mean it's the right time to use it. Unless you need the item right then, certain types of stock go on sale at different points in the year. You'll get a lower price by waiting and tapping into two types of savings at once (if the expiration date allows for it, of course).
For example, post-holiday shopping and seasonal changes often result in big sales for a lot of retailers. They're some of the best times to use your coupons, as long as you have ones that apply to the sale items. After all, couponing is about saving money. This way, you save big!
Keep Up With Your Savings
Tracking your savings is an excellent way to see your own hard work. It also helps you assess whether the time and effort you're spending on coupons is actually worth it. If you're into serious couponing, you may spend hours each week searching, clipping, printing, and organizing for your next shopping trip. Are the savings actually paying off?
To find out, try your hand at creating a savings spreadsheet. There are several online and available for download, often created by fellow couponers. If nothing else, seeing all the numbers can be very thrilling!
Coming in last (but absolutely not least) we have organization. If you're dealing with a lot of paper coupons, organization is a must. Otherwise, you'll lose track of the coupons you need or accidentally waste them by letting the expiration date pass by.
There are plenty of ways to organize coupons. You can separate them out by the store where you intend to use them, organize them by item, or organize them by the amount they save. However you choose to approach it, follow the advice about putting the earliest expiration dates in the most accessible location.
If you're looking for ways to get started, a few basic tools can go a long way. You can pick these up practically anywhere and even just drop a couple of bucks to get them at a nearby dollar store.
- Basic binder
- Plastic sleeves
- Accordion file
- Colored tabs
You can always adjust according to your own preferences and change labels around as necessary. Coupon policies change, after all, so you may swap out the stores you favor with something else in the future.
Couponing can be incredibly rewarding. It presents many opportunities to save money and tuck it away into your savings (or just treat yourself to something special). Make the most of that extra money by combining it with the cash back you'll earn from Comrade!
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