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Make the Most of Your Money... Getting the Biggest Return on Your Coupons

Updated on November 7, 2012
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Whether you use them or not I’m sure you have heard of coupons. As of late you may have even heard of Extreme Couponing. Couponing, extreme or not, can be an incredibly helpful tool in your mission to stay on a budget. Here are some tips and resources to get you started on the couponing trail.

Getting Started with Couponing

To begin couponing you need to start with coupons. There are several ways to get coupons but if you are just starting out the 2 best ways are the Sunday newspaper and printable online coupon sites.

If you decide to pick up your local newspaper realize not all papers have coupons. If you pick your paper up in a local gas station where you can look inside, take the time to double check. If you want to buy it from a machine then hop online or ask a friend to find out which papers in your area carry them. If you live in a more urban area I recommend buying it from one of the people who stand at intersections and sell it. You will get it for the same price and will be helping someone out who is also trying to make ends meet.

If you have access to a printer and would rather go that route, try out some of the sites listed below

Clipping and Keeping Coupons

When you first start couponing keep in mind that you should stick to coupons for items you already buy or can use. This relates to another article I wrote about secondhand shopping. If you are not careful you could end up spending more than you normally would because you are buying items you would normally never get. Don’t fall into this trap.

Having coupons for things you don’t buy is not always a mistake. If you join a local couponing group you can bring those coupons to trade for ones you can use. For example, if you don’t have a baby you could still clip/print baby items and then trade them with families that do. This step in couponing is a bit on the advanced side but if you have the time and there is a group near you it could dramatically increase your coupon savings. These groups are also good developing the best plan for your coupons.

Invest in a small organizer for your coupons, small being the key word. You should be able to keep your coupons with you and have easy access to them in a store. I use a small accordion file folder. Mine is separated by the types of items the coupons are for. For example... meat, dairy, fruit/veggies, beauty, cleaning, etc. That way if I am at a store and see a great special I can quickly check to see if I have a coupon to go along with it.

Planning for your Coupons

Coupons are always on name brand items (i.e. more expensive than the store brand). Just using them on any given day often won’t bring the item you are buying down below the price of the generic or store brand. The secret is to use them in conjunction with some other deal offered at the store. Learning about the deals available in your area can be done in a variety of ways. One of them is through the ads in the newspaper. If you already bought your Sunday paper there will be ads on the weekly deals for stores in your area. By looking through these deals and the coupons you have you can maximize your savings by matching up coupons with store deals. FYI, it will take a few weeks of clipping coupons to start seeing matches between your coupons and store deals.

A great way to get a leg up on connecting coupons with store specials is to join a local couponing group. 2 heads are better than one and if you are new to this process a little bit of help goes a long way.

If you can’t find a local group or if you don’t have the time, try an online group like the one listed below. These are run by couponing wizards who research coupons and upcoming specials and share not only where to shop but also how. Since different stores have different rules about coupon use, using your coupons in the right order at a store can affect how much you save. They not only list current and upcoming deals but also offer instruction on how to maximize your savings.

Learn to be a Better Couponer

Southern Savers (as well as other sites) Also offer tutorials on taking advantage of not only coupons but also special saving programs offered by certain stores like Publix, CVS, Walgreens, and Rite-Aid. Take a little time each week and read these tips. Over time you will become the expert and be able to help others save.

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    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 4 years ago from USA

      I just love couponing and I second your suggestion to join a couponing group. At first, I thought that was crazy to spend extra time, but I learned a lot of things about different store policies and announcements about extra special deals that helped a great deal. Voted up.

    • Rusticliving profile image

      Elizabeth Rayen 4 years ago from California

      I just started couponing and I love it. I don't think I will ever be an extreme coupon queen.. but I'm definitely into saving money! Great hub with great info! Thumbs up and shared! ♥