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Coupon Shopping on the East Coast (in miniature)
While shopping at Target, I freaked out a cashier by saving $34 on an $87 purchase of dog food and candles. The candles were not on sale nor did I have a coupon so it was more like saving all that on a $57 purchase, bringing my total down to less than I saved. It is not usual for me to save more than I actually spent, but I can easily save 1/3 of my grocery bill with coupons. This is what drove me over the edge to make a "save on shopping" book, or booklet since it will be small, and sell it on Kindle. It is not out yet, but I thought I would share my best pointers with you all.
First, check out your store's generic brands. You might enjoy them as much as name brand. The only things I buy name brand on a regular basis are toothpaste (my teeth are messed up), tampons, pizza, pasta sauce, ice cream (it is usually as cheap on sale), and pet products. One thing you should never buy name brand is medicine. Legally, the name brand and generic brand must contain the same ingredients unless specified (Excedrine with caffiene, but stores usually make an equivalent in time). You may or may not have a coupon for the generic brand but nine out of ten times it will still be cheaper. Many stores offer coupons for generic brands so you can save even more, but name brand coupons are more plentiful.
Extreme couponing like you see on television does not exist much anymore. Not only have stores gotten wise to stacking coupons, but shows make exceptions on camera for publicity. The best you will be able to get is one store coupon, one manufacturer coupon, a mobile coupon, a sale, and an additional sale for bulk buys. It is rare to find stores that do this and are not specialty stores selling everyday items. Target, Walgreens, and CVS are the only ones I could find. I shop at Target all the time using one store coupon and one manufacturer coupon. I recently found out about Cartwheel (mobile coupons) and will be trying it out this week.
Be prepared to buy much more than you need. Your house might not be filled to the brim with toilet paper like in some tv shows but I have bought over a year's supply of laundry detergent in one go. The more you buy, the more you save. Make sure your bank account is ready. You might have to wait for the savings to come later.
Technically, you are not supposed to share coupons but I have never had a problem with it. Whether you trade coupons or buy it for a friend for reimbursement should not make a difference in my opinion. Many of the pet supplies coupons I do not use go to my friends at a local rescue. For their hard work, they deserve to save a little money.
Practice. You will not use every coupon, so do not try to. Start slow if you have to. You will make mistakes, try to use expired coupons, or coupons that do not work with each other. Do not be mean to the cashier if your coupons do not work. Make sure there is a reason before asking for a manager. Remember, polite people are more likely to get what they want. Do not let couponing take over your life because it is very easy to become addicted. Do what you can.
Finally, never ever allow someone in line hassle you for using coupons. You worked hard for these savings and you have a right to them.