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How Can I Coupon Effectively?

Updated on December 1, 2020
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Tawnya is a freelance writer and mom of a tiny gymnast. When it comes to buying gymnastics-related gear, I'm an industry pro.


Use the Tips provided in this Lens to make Couponing Easier

Years ago, when Extreme Couponing first came on TLC, I became obsessed with couponing. I had always couponed, but did not start taking it seriously until I began watching the extreme couponers on the hit TLC show get carts of groceries for under $10. However, like many newbie couponers, I went about it all wrong in the very beginning. I literally became obsessed with couponing, finding deals, and printing and organizing my coupon binder. After many trials and errors, I am ready to tell you that there is a way to use coupons wisely.

All the photos in this lens are credited to Photobucket.


How much can you really save with Coupons?

While I always wanted to be like the shoppers on TV, I’ve never walked out of a store with three grocery carts of food and necessities for just a few dollars. However, I also haven’t ever needed 100 bottles of antacid, 50 candy bars, or 21 rolls of toilet paper in one shopping trip. What I’m trying to say is you have to put what you see on TV in perspective. Don’t just look at the huge savings the extreme couponers are earning. Instead, look at what they are buying. In most situations, the items they earned the huge savings on weren’t going to help me provide the basics for my family. Once I got real about my savings expectations, I was able to plan better trips and provide better results for my family. While doing this, I have literally saved thousands of dollars on groceries, furniture, clothes, and even vacations.

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Just because there is a Coupon for It You do not have to Buy It

In the beginning, getting a good deal made me feel as good as getting a pedicure. It was a rush! Then, I would put the item in my coupon closet and eventually either give it away or throw it away (if it was something that expired). What I learned here is that just because there is a coupon for something, it doesn’t mean I have to use it. This is especially true if you are printing all your coupons on a printer. The more coupons you print the more ink you are using. If you don’t use the coupon you printed or you use the coupon, but don’t end up wanting or needing the product, you are actually losing money. Instead, of printing every potential coupon available, make sure to choose the coupons you print wisely

Pair Coupons with Sales

The next important lesson is to pair coupons with sales. The best part about pairing coupons with sales is that you don’t have to do it yourself. You can, if you want, but there are plenty of websites out there that match available coupons with sales every week and make them available to the public for free. For instance, I LOVE to coupon at CVS. When I want to plan my shopping trip to CVS, I will go to my favorite coupon matching site, Hip2Save, and check out the CVS coupon comparison blog that the site provides every Saturday afternoon/evening. Then I can plan my trip and be at the store Sunday morning when the store opens to get my great deals. Another reason, CVS is my favorite store to coupon at is because of the stores ECB (extra care bucks) program, which leads me to my next topic.

Check out Store Loyalty and Credit Card Benefits when Couponing

Most stores have some type of store loyalty program. As mentioned above, CVS uses the ECB program. My next favorite reward program is the Advantage Card at Giant Eagle. Each of these loyalty cards rewards shoppers with perks that are only available to loyalty card members. With these cards, you can save extra money and pair the sales with coupons for the biggest savings possible. In addition to loyalty cards, many credit cards also offer cash back opportunities for purchases.

Make Friends with the Cashiers and Understand Store Coupon Policies

Since I’m an avid couponer, I know the cashiers at my local stores and have created relationships with them. The ladies at my favorite CVS store are always impressed with my deals and I’m always happy to share tips with them. Since I sometimes need to have two or three different orders, I will let other customers go in front of me and do anything else I can to help the cashiers keep their lines moving. For instance, if I take three carts out to my car at my favorite drug store, I am not going to leave the coupons in the parking lot. Instead, I make sure to take the carts back in. Believe me, cashiers notice this type of stuff and tend to be more patient with customers who make their jobs easier. I also always make sure my order is accurate before I begin the checkout process. There’s nothing worse than getting to the register and forgetting what deal goes with what order. To avoid this, make sure you write everything down and keep coupons for each order separate. Cashiers and store managers are usually much more patient with couponers who know what they are doing. When gathering your coupons for each order or trip make sure you double check the coupons as well. You will want to make sure that the coupon is not expired, not restricted to a certain store, and for the right product.

Organize your Coupons Carefully

Take Your Time Organizing Your Coupons

I’m not going to tell you how to organize your coupons because everyone has their own unique system. What I will tell you is that it is imperative that you organize your coupons, if you are truly going to be successful. Personally, I use a binder and baseball card holder pages to organize my coupons. I have tabbed sections to my coupon binder for different types of food and products and use the tabs to be able to quickly find certain coupons. I make sure to go through the binder at least once a week to remove any expired coupons and I always take the binder with me when I’m shopping. However, I don’t always take the binder into the store with me. I plan all my trips ahead of time and usually everything goes perfectly. But, every once in a while, I will need an additional coupon or find something on clearance that I know I have a coupon for, so I will head out to my car to grab the additional coupons, if needed. I don’t carry my binder into the store with me because I don’t want to lose it or risk the pages falling out and destroying all my hard work.

Know your Store Coupon Policies

Although many store managers often want to blame coupon issues on couponers, I have found that some of my problems at the register have come from cashiers, and even store managers, not understanding the store’s coupon policy. For this reason, it is important that you understand the store you are shopping at coupon policy. Almost all stores have a coupon policy and policies can vary from one franchise to another. On top of varying from one another, coupon policies can also change without notice. The way I handle coupon policies is by printing them and carrying them in my binder. Now that I have an iPhone, I can also pull up coupon policies online while in a store. Usually, having access to the store’s coupon policy can help alleviate any disagreements or misunderstanding about coupons at the register.

Determine Price Points for Commonly Purchased Items and Keep Track of Prices

Have you ever looked at an ad and thought that is a great deal? Then days later, you realize it wasn’t a great deal and you could have saved even more money if you had waited for a better sale. If you coupon regularly, this exact situation has probably happened to you. It use to happen to me all the time, but it doesn’t happen anymore. Why doesn’t it happen to me anymore, you ask? Well, I began to realize that sales on my favorite products ran on a regular cycle. For instance, my favorite laundry detergent goes on sale every three months. Now, when the laundry sale goes on sale, I buy enough for at least three months. This way I am never paying more than my “rock-bottom” price. I keep track of the best price I have received on a product in an Excel file on my computer. I also record the date of the sale too. Doing this allows me to recognize when I should buy a particular product and how much I should buy when I do.

Whether you are an extreme coupon expert like myself or are just starting out, I would love to hear your story in the comment section below.

© 2014 Tawnya


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