There are shows on TV where you see someone can buy $100 of groceries for only 10 cents. They make it look so easy... but these are not typical experiences and usually to be on the show the store must 'set aside' their regular coupon policy allowing a shopper to 'break the rules.' In real life there are rules and policies you must abide by to use coupons in any store. This can be daunting when you first begin. Let me give you some simple step by step instructions on how to start couponing without being overwhelmed.
Don't Coupon For Food
You may have noticed many coupons are for junk food. There are a few rad coupons for fresh fruit and produce, and healthy items too. But these are rare. You will find the greatest savings if you use the majority of coupons to buy non-food products like Shampoo, Soap, Razors, Toilet Paper, Paper Towels, etc. When you can get these items for dirt cheap it helps you save on your overall bill so you can buy more fresh produce and healthy foods.
Where do you find stellar coupons?!?
Sunday Newspaper inserts (as shown in picture above)
- Get them from your local Sunday Newspaper inserts.
- You can print them online.
- You can write companies to request them.
- You can also find them in local Store Ads.
Most local papers have coupon inserts from Smart Source, Red Plum and Proctor and Gamble - these come in the Sunday edition only. Bigger city papers will have the most inserts. Sometimes it pays to order the bigger city paper in your small town. Most couponers order multiple copies of the Sunday paper to get multiple copies of each coupon.
Why get newspapers if you can print coupons? A lot of the coupons that come in the newspaper are not available to print. The only way you can get these in those Sunday papers.
Most coupon sites will direct you to the best printable coupons. If you are looking for a specific coupon consider checking a coupon database
which will tell you all available coupons including which Sunday paper they came in or where to print them. Print your coupons in black and white to save on ink costs. You can not photo copy printed coupons. This is fraud. Don't think you won't get caught either. Printable coupons are encoded with your ISP (or where the coupon printed from) in the barcode. They can find out who printed the coupons and block you for life from printing coupons again. It's not worth it. Most sites let you print 2 copies of each coupon per computer.
If you like a product write the company and tell them. They will almost always send some great coupons - many high value to you! You can do this online and not worry about spending the cost of a stamp. Even if you had a bad experience companies want to hear from you and will send you coupons.
Local stores will print their own coupons in the newspaper. For instance Rite Aid has in-ad coupons. Keep an eye out for these coupons. Usually you can 'stack' (or use in conjunction) with regular manufacturer coupons. We will talk about coupon stacking later in another post.
When Should I Use Stellar Coupons?
If you are struggling to see the savings in couponing, maybe this is you: you clip your coupons, run to the store, use the coupons, and think it was a waste of time for a few dollars savings.
How couponers really save is by waiting
until items are at their lowest price point, then using a coupon to get the item nearly free. How do you know when to use a coupon? All the work is done for you on coupon blogs
. They list out each week every store, what items are on sale, and whether or not its a good time to use your coupon on the sale items. By following along, you can easily start snagging tons of free items each week.
Go Big or Go Home
Once you've found a hot sale to stack a coupon with, it is slightly a waste of time to just buy one item on sale. Why? You might find a sale where you can pick up your favorite shampoo for a quarter! If you only had one coupon (with a family of 5) that shampoo would go quick. Then the next week you'd have to roll back to the store and pay full-price for more shampoo. If something is a 'stock up price
' it's best to buy multiples of the item so you can use it until the next sale comes around, which is typically in about 6-8 weeks. This means you picked it up for cheap and have enough stock to last until the next
great sale. Consider how many newspapers your family will need. A good rule of thumb is to order one newspaper for each person in your family.
You can negotiate with your local newspaper company to reduce the price when you order mutltiples. I’ve seen some bigger cities reduce the prices to only $0.75 per copy! Not all places will do this. Sometimes you will pay $3 a copy. Determine your monthly cost for papers and how much will you save by couponing. Make sure it’s worth it! If you aren’t start with less papers. You can always add papers when you see your savings add up.
Here are some already reduced prices for papers in several states, including California, Nevada, Idaho, Florida, Colorado & Utah.
Start One Store at a Time
The best advice for starting couponing is to start with only one store. You will need to learn the store coupon policy
as they are different for each store. Some stores limit how many coupons you can use in a transaction and some limit you to how many exact-same, or ‘like’ coupons you can use, and each store has different policies on combining their store coupons with manufacturer ones. Sometimes even a cashier does not know their own policy so always have a printed copy of the store coupon policy with you.
The first few times you coupon will be trial and error while you learn to coupon. After you have coupon at one store and know their policy and the cashiers you can start learning another store. You will find some stores are more coupon friendly than others. Try to pick the easiest ones first. Walmart is known as an easy place to coupon, but the savings aren’t as great. Kmart & Walgreens are some of the most difficult, but rewarding places to coupon. If you keep trying, you will find the store that works for you and you’ll start to see the savings pour in.