Shows such as TLC’s Extreme Couponing have brought many insider shopping secrets out in the open. Perhaps you’ve watched the show and have wondered how they do it? How do they buy hundreds and hundreds of dollars worth of groceries for next to nothing? Here are some basic tips for getting the best deals:
Get your hands on the coupons.
Whether you buy multiple copies of the Sunday paper, trade coupons with friends, order coupons online, or go dumpster diving, you must have the coupons in order to use them. Contact manufacturers and ask for coupons, sign up for newsletters and mailing lists from your grocery store – they often send out special coupons you can’t find elsewhere. When your neighbors put out their recycle bins, ask them if you can search through their newspapers for unwanted coupons. Ask your friends who aren’t couponers to save their coupons for you.
Know your grocery store’s coupon policy.
Many stores are now limiting the number of coupons you can use in one transaction as well as the number of coupons you can use on one product. Stores are also cutting back on applying overage. Let’s say you have a coupon for $1.00 off of Product A. When your grocery store puts Product A on sale for .80, it is time to use your coupon. Because your coupon is worth more than the cost of your product, the register will credit you with the .20 overage. If you have 20 coupons and use them to purchase 20 units of Product A, you will have a credit of $4.00. The overage can go towards purchasing a gallon of milk at no cost. Although there are still grocery stores that will allow overage, many are cutting back.
Combine coupons with in store sales.
The key to saving big is to combine your coupon with the very lowest price the store will sell the product. This takes some work on your part because you need to recognize the lowest prices. Many people put together a price book to track prices of products at various stores.
The Couponizer Organizer is a great system for organizing your coupons. You can also use a 3-ringed binder with dividers. Purchase slotted sleeves used for baseball cards and keep your coupons organized so you can find them easily. You also need to regularly go through your coupons and get rid of ones that have expired. Although some stores will accept expired coupons, most do not.
Find stores that double and triple coupons.
Many stores automatically double coupons up to a certain values, and many stores have special dates where they will triple coupons. There are also stores which do not double or triple at all. Find out what is available in your area so you can maximize your trips.
If you find a coupon online, print it out and take it to the store with you. Be careful though – you can only print one copy. Also, make sure you know your store’s policy regarding internet coupons. Many will accept them but may have restrictions on coupons for free items.
Online shopping is so convenient, and with coupons you get great deals. Visit sites that have online coupons such as MyCoupons.com. In one place you can find great deals from your favorite merchants and the savings is instant. You can also use MyPoints where you can get coupons for anything from groceries to Office Depot coupons and deals.
Plan, Plan, Plan!
Before you begin shopping plan exactly what you are going to buy, and which coupons you are going to use. Watch the register carefully as you check out and make sure that not only is the correct price coming up when scanned, but the full value of the coupon is applied to your items.
What ways have you found to save with coupons? Leave us your tips in the comments!