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How to Do Super Couponing (or Extreme Couponing) Part I
How to Save Big Money on Groceries
Super couponing, which is also known as extreme couponing, has become quite popular lately as the economy continues to fumble. The entire premise of super couponing involves combining store sales with manufacturer coupons, rebates, and other promotions. The super couponer, in essence, tries to get the final item price as close to zero dollars as possible. In some cases, super couponers even make money on their purchases, since the amount of money saved through coupons can occasionally exceed the value of the purchased items (although some stores only allow couponers to get charged zero dollars for their purchases, not to make additional money).
When starting on the path towards saving money on groceries through coupons, extreme couponing can seem quite daunting. There are various store circulars to track, as well as publications which post weekly manufacturer coupons. There are online sites that offer store loyalty card coupons, store-only coupons, and unique online coupons. The stores may have different rules regarding the use of coupons, from limiting their number to amount doubled to amount saved. Luckily, there are online sites that help you organize your coupons and find out which store is carrying a particular promotion. Here are the steps that can help you tackle the sometimes overwhelming task of extreme couponing:
Step 1: Buy a Sunday newspaper
To begin the process of super couponing, it is necessary that you purchase or otherwise obtain a Sunday newspaper that contains circulars from coupon sites such as Redplum, Smartsource, P&G, General Mills, etc. These circulars are printed on glossy paper and are usually tucked inside of the newspaper. Because many folks will purchase a newspaper just for its coupons (or even dumpster dive for coupons), many newspapers have begun the practice of enclosing coupon inserts in plastic. The Chicago Tribune, for example, encloses its Redplum and Smartsource circulars in plastic (along with other store circulars and coupons). Not all coupon circulars are released every Sunday. In the case of Redplum and Smartsource, the circulars do come out on a weekly basis; however, P&G, General Mills, and others do not. Thus, to really get the maximum benefit from using coupons, you will need to purchase or obtain a Sunday newspaper for several Sundays in a row.
One thing to keep in mind about buying Sunday papers from a news stand is that, quite often, these papers may not contain your expected coupons! This occurs because the coupon circulars are preferentially inserted into subscription-based newspapers. One those circulars have been passed out, then the "free standing" newspaper receive whatever coupon circulars are left over. When all the circulars have been passed out, no new circulars are printed. Thus, you may become quite dismayed after paying $3 for a thick Sunday newspaper only to find out that your it does not contain the expected coupons. Overall, if you are going to go all out and use coupons on a regular basis, consider getting a subscription to your area newspaper.
Step 2: Clip your coupons
Once you have your coupon circulars in hand, clip out those coupons that appeal to you and that you would be sure to use. You don't need to cut out and use every coupon, nor should you start buying items simply because you have a coupon for them. However, if you do end up purchasing an item through a coupon for little or no money and you know that you won't be using this item, consider donating it to charity.
Once you have all your coupons clipped, consider organizing them into separate envelopes or even tucking them into the pages of a coupon binder. Otherwise, it will be difficult to know just which coupons you have on hand when you arrive at the grocery store. There are binders made especially to hold coupons that you can buy through Amazon, for example. These will serve you well once you are trying to find your coupons in a grocery store and also trying to avoid spilling all your coupons over the grocery store floor.
Step 3: Find online coupons
Of course, the magic of super couponing isn't just about using one discount on a given item;rather, it's using multiple coupons and discounts to save 50% or more on your grocery store bill. As such, you should also go online to download and print coupons from there. CouponMom, for example, posts weekly alerts about store sales, store coupons, and manufacturer coupons. If you are wondering which store has the best discount on a particular item, CouponMom is the place to go. Coupons.com is another great resource for online coupons, allowing you to clip the coupons that you want and then print them from your printer.
The only issue with online coupon sites is that you usually need to download a special coupon printer before you can print coupons. These coupon printers often install an additional toolbar to your browser and slow down your surfing capacity. There are ways to disable these printers when they're not in use, but having them on your computer means that some of your computer's hard drive is devoted to their upkeep. If possible, it may be best to devote an older computer to be the "printer" for your online coupons.
Another good source for online coupons is the store loyalty card coupon loader. Such a loader requires only that you supply your store loyalty card code; you then select your desired coupons and load them directly onto the card. At checkout, your loaded coupons are activated when your loyalty card is given to the cashier for scanning; however, your actual savings are not deducted from your total at that time. Instead, a separate online account on that loyalty card site tabulates your savings. Once you reach a given amount of savings, you are sent a check or the funds are deposited into your Paypal account.
Savingstar is a great example of a store loyalty card coupon loader. Savingstar offers unique coupons that are usually not available anywhere else. Best of all, if you use Savingstar, you could end up actually making money from all of your product discounts. Making money on purchases is typically not allowed via traditional grocery store policies; however, with a site like Savingstar, you could pay $0 on your groceries and still make a few extra bucks by using additional Savingstar discounts.
Now that you have all your coupons clipped and in place, what do you do next? In my next article on super couponing, I will explain how you can combine all your coupons with weekly store specials and other promotions. Likewise, I will let you in on a few time-saving secrets so that you are not stuck in the grocery store for hours on end trying to sort through your mountains of coupons. Ready to read on? Click on How to Do Super Couponing (or Extreme Couponing) Part II