Those Extreme Couponing TV shows have ruined couponing for everyone. The craze has caused grocery stores around the country to alter their coupon policies so much, that many people are afraid to even try to use coupons! And, who really needs 50 bottles of hot sauce anyway? Not me. I use coupons on items we use every day–laundry detergent, bath products, paper goods, etc. Now, don’t get me wrong. I love to get free stuff as much as anyone. But, within reason. Here is how I coupon and save my family hundreds of dollars (maybe even thousands) every year.
Subscribe to Couponing Sites
Facebook and the Web are home to hundreds of couponing groups, pages, and businesses. Seek them out, and check them often. One I like is Living Rich with Coupons, Coupon Wizards, and Couponing to Disney. Not only will these sites show you ways to save money with coupons, they will hook you up with deals on all kinds of specials, freebies, and discounts.
If you are lucky, you can get coupons in your Sunday newspaper. I am unlucky–here in LA (lower Alabama) you don’t get coupons in the paper. So, I have to buy coupons. Yes, I buy coupons. Sites like Insert Insanity allow you to purchase whole inserts at a bulk price. But, what I tend to do is purchase coupons a la carte, buying only ones I know I will use in bulk, rather than the inserts in their entirety. Why buy coupons? Well, paying $1.50 for 20 coupons that save me $3 each on razors makes sense. 20 coupons x $3= $60 in savings – $1.50= +$58.50. Make sense now? You can also buy coupons on eBay and extreme-coupon-clipping.com, but the the Coupon Wizards webpage will link you to their Coupons selling site, wizclipz.com. Theirs is super organized & easy to use. Coupon printing sites, like Coupons.com & SmartSource.com also provide the opportunity to print coupons that aren’t necesarrily available in your local paper. But again, those master sites will let you know when and where the must-have coupons and deals are from day to day.
Plan, Plan, Plan
Once you have gotten your coupons, check with the sites listed above for their list of what to buy and where. Or, you can just look through your grocery store’s sale ad & find out what items are on sale that you need to add to your home. I like to do the 2nd, because I will meal plan around what is on sale as much as possible. But, for items like eggs, creamer, coffee, etc. I know that I will use those coupons, sale or not. Oftentimes, the sale ad comes out early enough that you can order coupons from the coupon clipping sites at the start (or even a day or two before) of the sale cycle, and get them in time to take advantage of the sale. Another point is to grab rainchecks for items you want to get when they are on sale. If the item is sold out, they will honor the raincheck when the items are back in stock.
If you can, plan your shopping from more than one source. One store might have certain items on sale one week, so you need to weigh the gas/time with the savings. Many times, more than one item is on sale at a store that you want to visit, so look at the ad and plan your visit well. It will save you from spending more $$.
Learn Coupon Policies
Every store is different. No more stores tripling coupons (in my experience). But some stores will have in-store coupons which you can “stack” with the manufacturer coupons from your inserts. Double savings? OH YEAH! And, on top of that, many stores will have $5/$30 purchase coupons that you can use on top of your other coupons. Look in store, or even on eBay (you can search Kroger Coupons, etc). Again, you are buying them, but paying $1 for a $5 coupon makes sense to me.
These tips can help you to save a little or a lot at the stores. The biggest tip is to plan ahead–be an informed shopper, know your coupons ahead of time, and stick to your budget. A great deal on 100 rolls of TP is not a good deal if you can’t buy milk and bread the next week. Shop Smarter, not Harder!