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How would you like to save an average of 50% off your grocery bill every shopping trip? If you have time, the internet, a printer, and means to collecting your local Sunday paper, saving that money is easier than you think. I won’t deny that couponing isn’t exactly easy. It can be a little tedious, but watching those prices drop at the register is completely worth it. So, you’re ready to start but don’t know how to…
Loyalty and coupons. The first steps to starting your buzz-worthy couponing adventure are, naturally, collecting coupons. The first place to look is the Sunday paper. Start making a habit of collecting the store ads (more about this later) and clipping the coupons from your paper. Second, check out the internet. There are free coupons EVERYWHERE! Here are coupon-specific sites to get you started:
Next, collect store loyalty cards. Most people all ready have one for their preferred grocery store to save them money off the retail price. Go ahead and get a card for the drug stores and other grocery stores in your area, because in the next phase you’re going to learn how to find the best deal, and it may not be at the grocery store you always go to, so be prepared!
Shopping Around. You’ve clipped you heart out and now have a pile of coupons next to a pile of in-store ads. Now what? This is probably the most fundamental part of “extreme” couponing: match-ups. A coupon, even doubled (more about this next phase), is great… but a coupon on top of a great sale is magical! Before you’re left scratching your heads, let me explain the process: A match-up is coupon jargon for matching a coupon in your personal arsenal to a weekly deal going on at a store. For example, you have a 1.00 off coupon for a bottle of olive oil. You check the Sunday in-ad store for a grocery store you don’t usually go to, and they have a buy one get one free deal on the olive oil you have a coupon for. You’ve just created match-up deal bliss! Not only are you going to save a dollar on that essential cooking element, you’re also going to get one free! This is also a prime example of “Shopping Around”.
Shopping around is abandoning rigid store loyalty to hunt the best deal. I have found this the most challenging and time-consuming part of my couponing adventure. Compare the store-ads you receive each week out of the newspaper or on the couponing website you follow. Often times you may find that Rite-aid has the same deal as CVS or CVS has the same promotion as Walgreens. In these instances, if there isn’t another bargain or accumulated store rewards to sway you to one store over another, just pick whichever one is better for your shopping plan.
Plan, prepare, and plan some more! The way to get the best deal is to have the best plan of action. Make a list of what you’re going to buy and where. Make sure your coupons match the item for sale and aren’t expired. I recommend getting a small envelope-sized extendable pocket folder to hold your coupons for the shopping trip. I separate my coupons based on where I plan to use them and each store is a sleeve. Once you’ve finished your match-ups for the week and your shopping list, plan your trip. If all the stores you plan to go to are within five miles of each other, it’s not as important as if your main shopping hub is 30-40 minutes away. Plotting which stores to hit first can save you time and gas. Sometimes the first store you hit has better unadvertised deals on things then the second store you plan to hit. It’s okay to amend your plan to get the best deal; and if the opposite should happen, don’t sweat the few cents difference. A missed deal stings a little, but just remind yourself that either way, you didn’t pay full price!!!
Extra Starter Tips
Doubling coupons- almost all grocery stores double manufacturer’s coupons. That .55 cent coupon you were planning to use at Target is going to go a lot further if you can wait to use it when the item goes on sale at your grocery store.
Coupon Policies- before using coupons, make sure you review the store coupon policies where you plan to shop. You can usually find them under the store policies on their website. Knowing your store’s policy can deter confusion or a difficult cashier.
Get Organized! I recommend keeping your stash in a binder for sanity’s sake. It doesn’t matter if you organize them by expiration date, category, or alphabetically, as long as you have a system that helps you keep track.
Freebies- if you know where to look, the internet is FULL of freebie treats! Mostly sample-sized products are available… but sometimes companies offer full-sized freebies directly from their website. (Check resources for great links for freebies!)
Well, hopefully this article has given you some good information and confidence that you too can save! Getting started really is the hardest part, but once you start saving and learning the nuances of couponing through experience, you can watch your savings grow! I started out saving a few dollars on groceries to watching that register total drop 43 dollars in a single transaction. Take it from me, if you really want to, you can do it!
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© 2013 Livia Jayde