Where to get coupons to use while shopping, how to figure out which stores are better to shop at using coupons, and how to get maximum savings.
If you are new to couponing, the first thing that you will want to do is to build up a stockpile of coupons. You can do this a couple of ways. One way is to buy several papers every Sunday, or if your newspaper does an Early Sunday edition, then buy some of them instead because most people don’t understand that the same coupons that are in both the Regular Sunday and Early Sunday papers. Another way is to go online and print coupons from the Manufacturer’s website or from a coupon database such as the ones created by Southern Savers or The Krazy Coupon Lady websites, but trust me, the ink and paper can get costly. I have been through three reams of paper since I started couponing four months ago and two ink cartridges. If you don’t want to spend the money printing coupons or buying papers, you can always email the manufacturer’s and just tell them that you love their product without mentioning coupons and they will usually mail coupons to your home. Generally these take 3-5 weeks for delivery, so if you are building up a stockpile before you start shopping with your coupons, this can take some time.
While you are building your stockpile, find out what the local grocery store’s coupon policy is, print it out, and keep it with your coupons. Some stores do not publish their coupon policies online so you will have to go up to the store and speak with the store manager.
Putting together your shopping list
The biggest problem that I got into when I started couponing was that I wanted to use all the coupons that I had to buy the products that they represented. I spent over $200 on stuff that we didn’t normally use or want. I learned quickly that the best way to save using coupons is to make a shopping list from the stores week circular then go through your coupons to find the corresponding coupon to the sale item. This will save you the most money by buying the items while they are on sale and using the coupons with them.
When I make my shopping list, I cheat. Since I generally shop at multiple stores, I like to use sites that do the coupon match ups for me and I just check the boxes next to what I want to buy and print the list, gather my coupons, then head to the store.
While planning to go to the store, start with the deals at the stores that double and triple coupons, those are the stores that you want to shop at because they will save you the most money over all. Although some store sites state that the stores double and triple coupons, there are some stores that are affiliated with major companies that do not adhere to all the policies of the parent company. Such as coupon policies. So tread carefully.
Using the coupons at the store
When you go to the store and have several coupons to use, try to go during off peek hours so that you aren’t holding up lines with your coupons. It puts less stress on you, the cashier, and the people in line behind you. If you use a website that does the match ups for you, try to get your coupons together beforehand. Some sites even have a listing of the items that are on clearance as well as best prices for stocking up on items. Remember that sales are cyclical, if you think about it, about every 8-10 weeks, you will see the same things on sale at your local stores. So if it is something that takes you 4-5 weeks to go through, just buy two. But if it is something that you use on a daily basis, then you might want to stock up. When you do so at the lowest sale price, double or triple the coupon, you can get your food for just pennies. One item that we purchased was Frenches Honey Mustard Dipping sauce. It was on sale for $1.29 and with the coupon that we had it was for $0.35 which was tripled to $1.15. We bought four of them because my daughter tries to use it on everything she eats. This made an item, normally $1.99, on sale for $1.29, just $0.14 each.
If you remember that all coupons have a contract printed on them that state how you can use the coupon, and the restrictions that were on the coupon, some limit the coupon use to a certain number of coupons per transaction. Some stores will allow you to make multiple transactions by splitting up your orders and coupons. This allows you to get the maximum savings because not only will the manufacturer give them back the money that the coupon is worth, but most manufacturer’s will give back $0.08 extra to the store for processing just for taking the coupon. You just have to be careful because this can be seen as misuse since the coupons are being used in back to back transactions. So if you are wanting to attempt this, speak with the store manager first to see if they will allow it. Since the CIC, The Coupon Information Coropration, is made up of representatives from the manufacturer’s and stores alike, and they oversee the use of coupons, this is seen as a grey area. Approach with caution.