How To Coupon Without Extreme Couponing
Couponing is back! If you want to know how to coupon, then grab your Sunday paper. I'm going to teach you the secrets of real coupon clipping. But be forewarned, I am not into extreme couponing; instead I'll be talking about cutting coupons that you will use for the short-term. People's habits change, their tastes change, and I don't like to overcrowd my pantry shelves. Honestly, I end up throwing out too much expired food that way!
Coupon Must Haves
Where to Get Coupons
The easiest way to get coupons is to order extra Sunday papers. My local newspaper runs a special. If you order more than one paper, then you can order extra copies for only $1 extra a week. It's a great deal. I get plenty of coupons, and they sell more papers. It's not free, but it's certainly close enough. I always save more money than I spend.
I personally only order two copies of the Sunday paper. However, many people order four copies. Why four? Because many coupons now state that only four like coupons can be used at one time. If your local newspaper distributor does not allow you to order extra copies, you can order one paper for each person who resides at your address. The newspapers are always delivered to your driveway each Sunday, and you don't have to go to the store. Besides, our local stores always sell out of the Sunday papers!
Bring Competitor's Coupons
Some stores will honor competitor's coupons. So bring them to the store with you and check their coupon policy! Of course, please check their coupon policy at the Customer Service desk before you are checking out. You don't want to hold up the line!
My local store will honor dollars-off coupons from competitors as well as the cashback coupons from some of the local drugstores. It never hurts to ask!
Use Printable Coupons
Many sites now allow you to print coupons directly from their site. These printable coupons will usually allow you to print two per site. They go directly to your printer and are acceptable in most stores. If the first number on the bar code is a 5, then these coupons will usually double. As a side note, some coupons are now using the new bar code system which I don't understand.
If you use the internet for printable coupons, you will have more success at the beginning of the month when the companies update their monthly database. So you might want to check at the end of the month and the again at the beginning of the next month and see what has changed. Many of the deals are limited to a specific amount, and it's first come, first served. So print those babies early!
You may also get special coupons by registering at your favorite manufacturer's website, signing up for their newsletters, or liking them on Facebook. Sometimes you can call the company and ask them to send you something. You never know.
Money Saving Tip
- Order newspaper delivery of multiple Sunday papers.
- Print coupons from the internet early in the month.
Double Coupons and Triple Coupons
The fastest way to get free groceries is to find the double and triple coupon deals in your area. Many stores run double coupons all the time, with special policies that allow you to double a coupon up to 50 cents or 99 cents. But sometimes, my local grocery store will offer an incredible deal called the Super Doubles, where they double coupons up to $1.98.
Yes, that means I could potentially save almost $4 on an item. If you plan it right, then you could actually walk away with free groceries. But you do have to plan well.These same stores sometimes offer triple coupon deals too.
Obviously, these are the best times to use your clipped coupons and get the most bang for your buck.
Check the Blogs
Many online coupon sites, such as couponmom.com, have detailed databases that allow you to look up all the grocery deals in your area. You can plan your entire grocery shopping experience before you leave your house!
When I plan how to coupon for my week, I will visit the big sites and local blogs and create a Word document containing my shopping list for each store. Then, I may staple the appropriate coupons to each paper and carry them around for the week. When I have time during the week, I will shop at each store and save money on groceries.
Other times, I may only plan to visit one store in a given week. For those weeks, I will use my coupon file to hold the papers for that week.
Bring Your Own Bags
In some stores, you will only save pennies (but isn't that what couponing is all about?). But, in some stores, like Kroger, you will earn additional Kroger points when you bring your own grocery bags. When you earn a specific number of points from these stores, they will send you a coupon for $5 or another amount off of your groceries. So remember your bags!
Rainchecks are Your Friends
It took me a while to realize that rainchecks are my best friend. While shopping, carry the grocery store's circular and a Black sharpie. Circle any items that are gone from the shelves. After you check out, go directly to the Customer Service area and ask for your rainchecks.
At first, I didn't want to bother the customer service people. But they have always been so nice to me, and they don't seem to mind. So go ahead and get your rainchecks. And remember, what's cleared off the shelves this week might come in handy later. Many times, I have gotten an incredible deal when I combined my clipped grocery coupon with my raincheck. Best of all, there were plenty of the products on the shelves.
Rainchecks are especially handy during Super Doubles or Triple Coupon specials at the grocery stores!
Shelf-Clearing is Rude
Okay, I'm just going to be honest here and probably upset some people. Do not be rude and clear the shelves. You do NOT need twenty bottles of mustard or ketchup. Honestly, you really don't. Now, if there is a great deal on Pepi and you are having a party, then go ahead and buy all that you need, but that's different than buying products you will never use anyway. No one needs more than four bottles of mustard. (Or, in my house, one bottle of mustard.)
Remember that sales run in cycles. If you need mustard that badly, it's going to go back on sale in three weeks or so. So please be kind to your fellow shoppers.
My Coupon Filing System
Everyone has their own filing system, and I have found one that works for me. I personally use an old recipe box that I converted into a coupon file. Some of my categories include Baby, Baking, Breakfast, Condiments, Dairy, Dental, Frozen, Girl Stuff, Meat, Medicine, Paper and Plastic, Pet Foods, and Snacks. I will write another hub about my coupon organizing system at a later date.
Actually, the truth is that my old recipe box has grown into three boxes, but it does a great job. It's almost time for me to move into something bigger, like the coupon organizer I have pictured below. That's the next step in my coupon venture! In the very front of my first box, I have three special tabs: Coupons I Plan to Use, Coupons I Will Use Today, and Coupons I Cannot Use Today. At the very back of the last box, I have another special tab:Coupons to Share. I will elaborate on each of these in my next hub.
Anyway, my three recipe boxes are getting to be too much to lug around, but I like the actual system itself. Why don't I use a 3-ring coupon binder system? Well, it just didn't work for me. I thought I spent too much time cutting and organizing the coupons, and I spent a lot less time using them. Now, this may be completely different for you.
The bottom line is: Use the system that works for you!
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Sales Aren't Always Cheaper
Always remember the Golden Rule: Just because it's on sale doesn't mean it's a good deal. One thing that I have noticed is that some things are not a great deal EVEN if they are on sale AND I have a coupon. Sometimes,they are just cheaper if I just bought them at Aldi's in the first place.
For example, the last time I went to Aldi's, I noticed that the cocktail sauce was on sale for 99 cents. However, I also know that the generic cocktail sauce sells for $1.99 at my local grocery store, and the Heinz brand sells for $2.19. Even if I had a 50 cent coupon that doubled, I would still spend $1.19 instead of 99 cents for the same quantity of cocktail sauce. There were several other products at Aldi that had a similar pricing situation. It worth noting that there were also cases in which the coupons really would have been cheaper at my local grocery store. It pays to shop around.
Thus, sometimes having a coupon doesn't always make it a bargain. But sometimes it does.
If you have some coupon tips that you would like to add, please mention them in the comments section below. I will be happy to include them in my updates to the hub! Thank you for reading!