You’ve seen the shows on TV about extreme couponing – basically a money saving contact sport. But how do the rest of us coupon without it taking over our life? With just a few tips and tricks on how to start couponing, you’ll be saving money and still have time to watch Sharknado.
How to start couponing the easy way.
1. Types of Coupons: First thing is first. There are several different kinds of coupons to look out for, so let’s break them down.
- manufacturer’s coupons: found in magazines, online printable coupon websites, in your mailbox and on products themselves. (Visit Bargain Babe’s Coupon Database for up-to-date printable grocery coupons.)
- catalinas: printed out at the register or on the back of your receipt
- store coupons: rewards programs, frequent shopper cards, and in mailers
- blinkies: located on store shelves
- tear pads: usually found on a promotional display in stores
2. Coupons coming to you: You can always clip coupons from the newspaper, but there are also ways to have coupons delivered straight to you.
- loyalty cards: By signing up for your grocery store or pharmacy’s loyalty or rewards program, you can instantly see savings at the register, no coupon required. Stores like Ralphs, Vons and CVS have clipless coupons on their website that you can load directly to your club card after registering your card on their website. In some cases, you can double a card discount with a paper coupon for extra savings.
- email/online: Visit product websites to sign up for email alerts that contain discounts or contact the company directly to request coupons via email.
3. Organize coupons: Once you have all of your coupons, you need to keep track of them so they are easily accessible during your shopping trip. There are many ways to organize coupons, and you’ll need to find what works best for you.
- file ‘em: Keep your coupons in a binder with clear sleeves, in an accordion file or simply a shoe box. Categorize them by grocery category, aisle, recipe needs or expiration date. Try a few options until you’re able to easily flip to the right one while pushing the cart or wrangling a small human. Keep your coupons in the car, so they are always nearby for last minute stops.
- don’t procrastinate: As soon as you come across a coupon, file it. Otherwise the coupons will stack up and expire or get coffee spilled on them before you’ve had a chance to use them. If needed, set a time each week to organize your clippings. If you stay on top of it, it should only take a few minutes.
- let them go: Just like you make time to file, make time to throw away expired coupons. Don’t feel guilty – it happens to the best of us.
4. Get the most for your money: Stretch your coupons and dollars to the max with these quick tips.
- stockpiling: Stockpiling is what it sounds like – buying product in bulk when it is at its very cheapest or even free through using a sale price plus coupon. This can easily fall into the “extreme coupon” category, so don’t feel like you need to buy 500 rolls of toilet paper just because it’s on sale.
- stacking: Stacking coupons means using two different kinds of coupons together. Typically stacking starts with a manufacturer coupon, used alongside a store coupon. Many stores accept competitor’s coupons. Find one that does, and stack a manufacturer’s coupon with a competing store’s coupon. If you stack the coupons while the product is on sale, you essentially get a triple savings.
- stick to the plan: Make a shopping list and meal plan, and don’t stray. If it’s not on the list, you don’t need it. Even if you have a coupon, buying something just because it is on sale isn’t really saving money.
How do you organize your coupons?