Sunday, January 22, 2012
Tip # 1: Only clip coupons for things you actually use. Couponing has a way of being addictive. Take caution not to buy things just because they are a good deal. The coupons above are all things we use (hot sauce, pickled jalapenos, dishwasher detergent, vitamins, aluminum foil, nuts. Italian sausage, canned tomatoes, yeast, Cheerios (for my 5 year old) and cheese. (These coupons total $10.50 in savings)
Tip #2: Learn the coupon policy for your store(s). Every store's coupon policy varies. Visit your store's website or go to their customer service desk and ask them about their coupon policy. Most stores will double any coupon that is $.50 or less (this is as good as it gets at my store). However, some stores double coupons up to $1, making each $1 coupon instantly worth $2. Anytime you can double a coupon worth $1 then you are going to get an amazing deal (you may even get money back)! Additionally, some stores will double the value of any coupon on one particular day of the week. If this is the case then it would definitely be worth doing the majority of your shopping on that day. I could go on and on here, but it is best to check with your store. You'll want to be fully informed so that you don't run into any surprises.
Tip # 3: You'll find the best deals by combining what's on sale along with your coupons. Here is a perfect example.
($.59each x 3 cans = $1.77 - $.90 coupon = $.87). You really can't beat a deal like that! Canned tomatoes are a staple, especially in the winter. I will be so glad to have these on hand in my pantry. In fact, this leads me to my next tip.
Tip #4: If there are good deals to be had, and you have the room/space, stock up! Don't be afraid to ask a friend for their paper when they're finished with it OR if the savings dictate, buy another paper. The main point is to stock up. Sales and coupons are on cycles and oftentimes you will run out of a product before it cycles again.
Tip # 5: Make sure your coupon is the best deal to be had. Do not go to the store determined to use your coupon without first checking prices for the other brands. Every once in awhile it happens where I'll clip a coupon and then go to the store to find that another brand is cheaper. The motto here is to pay attention. Don't use your coupon just for the sake of using your coupon. Remember, you are after the best deal.
Tip# 6: Certain stores, like Walgreens, allow you to combine their store coupons with manufacturer's coupons. This is one of my favorite tips/tricks. Walgreens is the place where I find a lot of great deals. And, I must not be the only one because I frequently see other people couponing there as well. After you clip the coupons from the coupon inserts, get out your Walgreens ad. Inside the Walgreens ad there is another set of coupons. Here is an example.
I should also mention that in addition to their weekly sales ad, Walgreens also puts out a monthly pamphlet (available at the front of the store by the sales ad) that also has coupons in it. There have been times where I have used a Walgreen sales ad coupon, combined with a coupon from the monthly pamphlet, and a mfg. coupon. I love that Walgreens allows you to triple up on coupons. However, be cautioned when it comes to using mfg. coupons at Walgreens. You can use them, but Walgreens will not double them. Therefore, if you have a mfg. coupon and cannot match it with a Walgreens store coupon then it is best to use your mfg. coupon at the regular grocery store so that it can be doubled.
Tip # 7: Be Organized. If you decide to coupon then you will need some sort of organizer. I don't have anything fancy or pretty. I just use an old photo album that has separate compartments and I've labeled each compartment with a sharpie marker. Each week I take care to go through my coupons, removing any expired ones, and at the same time refreshing my memory with the coupons that I do have so that I can better match my coupons to what's on sale that week. As I make my grocery list I set aside the coupons I want to use and place them in a ziploc baggy to take to the store.
Tip #8: Keep your coupons with you. One of the most valuable lessons I've learned while couponing is to ALWAYS keep my coupons with me. I keep my coupon book in the trunk of my car so I always have it. You never know when you are going to find a good deal.
Tip #9: Leave your kids, and any other distractions, at home when you shop! Kids are cute, and I have two of my own, but I try my best to leave them at home when I do my shopping. There is no way you can pay attention to the deals, your coupons, and the cashier who is ringing up your order if you have kids in tow.
Tip# 10: Try to plan a menu based on your savings. Challenge yourself to come up with recipes based on the items you buy with your coupons. This week it's pretty much a no brainer for me. Based on the canned tomatoes, yeast, Italian sausage and cheese I will most definitely be making some homemade pizzas. The coupon for the pickled jalapenos is just the push I needed to make The Homesick Texan's breaded and fried pickled jalapeno slices, which have been on my to-do list for awhile now.
Bonus Tip: When couponing, please pay attention to the cashier ringing your order and also double check your receipt to make sure all your deals rang up correctly. Cashiers are busy and bound to make mistakes and sometimes the computers do not code the deals correctly. Don't be afraid to point out errors while the cashier is ringing up your order. Also, know beforehand how much you should be saving with your coupons so that you can double check your receipt afterwards and make sure it is all accounted for. The grand total of my coupons above is $10.50 and I will be sure to make sure I see $10.50 in savings at the bottom of my receipt.
Another Bonus Tip: If you're interested in couponing, but are feeling a little nervous about it all, then start off small. Find yourself one good deal, grab your coupon, take it all to the register, and have it rung up separately so you can look at the receipt and understand it. Next time around you'll feel more comfortable and you'll understand the rules a little better.
As of right now, I only use my local Sunday newspaper for coupons. Some people like to get their coupons online, but then it is necessary to print them, which does involve extra cost. If you're interested, there are some great online coupon sites out there, namely smartsource.com and redplum.com.
I hope this bit of information was helpful in answering some of the questions. If you have any additional questions, or tips of your own, feel free to share them in the comments section, or via email. I'd love to hear about them!