There is a difference between using coupons and actually couponing. Using coupons simply saves you a buck or two here and there, but there’s no real effort in which coupons are being used or how they are used. Couponing is a lifestyle—something that takes time and know-how to do it right. It involves clipping coupons, scouring ads, and organization to save the most money possible. If you’re a beginner couponer, this guide to couponing effectively will help you get started saving 25, 50, even 75% or more on your grocery bill.
Step 1 – Gather your Coupons
This is the easy and fun part. There are several places to get coupons. It’s a good idea to get coupons from different sources so you have a variety to choose from. Different areas offer different coupons, so don’t be afraid to go outside your locale to find coupons. Be sure to use these sources as often as you can:
- Family and Friends
- Clipping services
Step 2 – Get Organized
An organized couponer is a good couponer. If you know what coupons you have and when they expire, you’re on the right path. There are several ways to organize your coupons. Try a couple of different ways to find one that works best for you.
- Coupon binders
- File box
Step 3 – Learn and Understand the Store Policy
Each store has its own policies on using coupons. It’s important to know how the stores you frequent handle coupons before you begin using them. it takes a lot of effort to organize a shopping trip with coupons, so knowing what to expect once you get to the checkout makes things go much smoother. Find out the following information for each store you shop at.
- Does the store have a loyalty card program?
- Do they offer double and triple coupons?
- Do they allow stacking coupons?
- Will they take printable coupons?
- What is their policy on competitor’s coupons?
- Will they accept expired coupons?
Step 4 – Have a Plan of Action
Once you have your coupons, it’s time to make a weekly routine.
- View weekly ads for all the stores you shop.
- Match the coupons you have with items on sale.
- Do price matching. Some stores such as Walmart will match their competitors’ prices,. This allows you to shop in one place and still receive the deals.
- Make a list. Never go to the store without a list. This tip is two-fold: you’re more likely to only get the things you need and you won’t forget anything you’ve come for.
- Ask for rainchecks for items that are on sale but sold out.
Step 5 – Begin Building your Stockpile
The main purpose of couponing is saving as much money as possible on as many items as possible. You may end up with 50 tubes of toothpaste because you got a great deal—they may have even been free! The main things to remember when building your stockpile are:
- Start slowly – building a stockpile takes time, so don’t begin buying everything you see just because you have a coupon. You’ll blow your budget and defeat the purpose of couponing in the first place.
- Plan ahead – many sales run on a 12-week cycle. Buy more than what you need to get through the week if you find a great deal. Instead buy enough to get you through 12 weeks until you can take advantage of the great deal again.
- Pay attention to what you actually use – knowing how much cereal you eat in a month or how many bottles of shampoo you use will help you keep things in perspective so you have enough to get through until the next great deal but you don’t have too much.
- Donate what you can’t use – There will come a time when you do go overboard—every couponer does it eventually. Don’t sweat it. Just donate it and feel good that you were able to help someone else out.
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