Getting Started in Couponing

Coupons have long been a mainstay for savvy shoppers, but those new to this way of saving money may wonder if getting $0.05 off a box of cereal is actually worth the effort.

While clipping the odd coupon out of the newspaper may not yield impressive results, with a little know-how and a bit of organization, couponing can result in hundreds of dollars of savings.

Read on to discover the tips of the trade in extreme couponing.

Step 1: Preparation Before Shopping

While newspaper coupons still exist, thanks to an ever-changing landscape of both print and electronic media, there are now multiple sources for couponing. By being aware of these sources of coupons and prepping before heading to the supermarket, savings can be exponential. The following are the best places to find coupons.

The Newspaper:

While national newspapers rarely have coupons, local newspapers still run their fair share of them. Full page advertisements with coupons regularly appear; they just need a bit of searching for. As well, local newspapers regularly have supermarket flyers and circulars. These flyers usually come out a day or two before their prices and coupons come in to effect so it’s a good idea to read them and make your shopping list ahead of time.

Online Weekly Ads:

While most supermarkets still print paper flyers, the majority of places now offer online versions as well. To help you in your search, visit this link to Supermarket Weekly Ads – Sales Circulars & Newspaper Ads in order to find a list of your local supermarkets and the sales they are currently offering.

Printable Grocery Coupons:

Some coupons are run by specific supermarkets while others are offered by the brands themselves. A lot of these coupons can be found online and printed so that they can be redeemed at any supermarket of your choosing. To find a list of current printable grocery coupons, check out CouponsLink.com.

Magazine Coupons:

Magazines still hold a place in the house and the majority of home-centred magazines will offer coupons. Titles such as Better Homes and Gardens, Shape, Woman’s Day, and others, will have coupons throughout their publications.

Tearpads/Blinkies/Peelies:

While the majority of coupons are found before the actual shopping begins, there are still some surprise bargains to be had. Keep your eyes peeled for these coupons in the aisle of your favorite grocery store.

‘Catalina’ or Receipt Coupons:

While supermarket receipts often find their way into the garbage can, or better yet, the recycling bin, check them before you dispose of them. Receipts often have promotions on the back of the paper, at the bottom paper, or even as a separate piece of paper attached to the primary receipt.

eCoupons:

Coupons have come a long way and many now take advantage of modern technology. Some coupons are uploaded to loyalty cards or sent via email. Often, ecoupons don’t have to be printed anymore; simply show your smart phone or scan it to get the savings.

Step 2: How to Use Coupons for Maximum Effect

Finding and cultivating coupons takes a lot of physical effort and this next step will use mental effort. To get the best results from coupons, meaning saving the most amount of money, it is important to use coupons in an effective manner. Here are some tips that will help to make the most out of coupons.

Look for sale items:

Coupons can, and should, be paired with sale items. If a grocery store has a loaf of bread on sale for $1.00 off and you have a coupon for $0.50 off, you can combine them for $1.50 in savings. It is important to remember, however, that sales do not exist forever.

Be cautious about expiration dates:

Most supermarket sales last for a week, usually Friday to Thursday, although some have super sales for one day only. Coupons last a bit longer and their expiration dates are usually a month after being printed. If you have a new coupon that doesn’t expire for a few weeks, hold on to it in the hopes that it will go on sale during this time.

Be aware of sale cycles:

Not everything will be on sale at the same time, and items will almost never be on sale two weeks in a row. This is because supermarkets employ a sales cycle which usually lasts about eight to ten weeks. If you have a coupon for toilet paper and you see that that brand is on sale, make sure you go out and buy it as chances are it won’t be on sale again for a month or longer.

Step 3: How to Save the Most Amount of Money

Having a coupon and looking out for sales is the fundamental way of couponing, but to make this task truly extreme, there are more tricks to be aware of.

Double Coupons:

This is the holy grail of extreme couponing. Some specific supermarkets will offer double couponing. This where they match the value of an external, brand coupon, in effect doubling what it is worth. Sometimes, if an item is on sale, it can actually turn out to be free. If toothpaste is on sale for $0.99 and you have a coupon for $0.50 off, and the supermarket will double its value, then that toothpaste is free. 

Competitor Coupons:

This policy may not be actively promoted, but don’t let that fact stop you from asking. Some supermarkets will accept competitor coupons. This means that if they have a better sale than a different store, you can save even more money.

Step 4: Stock up and Save

Most sale items have a limit to the amount you can purchase, and for good reason. However, don’t let this stop you from purchasing the limit. Items that have long expiration dates such as cleaning items and canned goods should be stocked up on. If the limit is nine items and there are only five on the shelf, ask for a rain check receipt. You can pay for the sale items with your coupons and receive the savings and pick up the items at a later date when there are more in stock.

If you have a chance to save big on perishable items and know that you won’t have the chance to use them all before their expiration date, consider giving them to friends or donating them to a local food bank.

Conclusion

Extreme couponing may seem like a bit of work at first, but once you get into it, it can feel like a real-life video game. Only in this version, the winnings are real!