I love to coupon! I had a friend introduce me to couponing a few years back. I learned very quickly and was saving so much. Then I realized I was couponing wrong. I was couponing for the best deals, but not necessarily for the deals my family used. While it might be neat to get free mustard, my small family only uses about 2 bottles a year. I was working too hard at couponing. I don’t buy cake mix, but the savings percentage on my receipt was more of a rush than the actual need. You can save money for what you consume and/or donate without spending hours couponing. Here are my top 25 couponing tips!
Top 25 Couponing Tips
- DO NOT CUT ANY COUPON INSERTS. Instead buy an inexpensive file box and file each insert by the weeks date. When I post deals from stores I will let you know which insert to go to. Isn’t your time worth more than spending hours clipping coupons for things you do not need? For a great app to check out matchups, check out the FREE Favado app!
- BUY only items that are on sale. Sale cycles go anywhere from monthly to seasonally. You don’t stock up a huge stockpile immediately, you wait until the prices with coupons are the lowest, then you buy as much as you need to get you through that sales cycle.
- Give up brand loyalties and the assumption that the store brand is always the cheapest.
- Costco, Sam’s, and Gordon’s Food Service aren’t the best places for couponing since you cannot buy the smallest size. The smaller the size you buy the more value you get for your coupon.
- Keep copies of the coupon policies from each store you shop at with you. Sometimes the cashiers are not informed on their coupon policy.
- Use your smart phone to save money! Checkout 51, Target Cartwheel, Ibotta, Saving Star and others are apps that help you save on top of savings coupons.
- Please do not misuse a coupon. If a coupon says that it is for a specific item do not use it on anything that brand sells. Example: using hair dye coupon ($3) on a bottle of shampoo. That was not the way the coupon was intended. Eventually companies will figure this out and withdrawal their coupons for that item.
- Learn the lingo! Check out my post on the lingo HERE.
- Look for coupons in the store (blinkies, tearpads, free samples, etc.) for items you would buy. Even if the item is not on sale now, it might go one sale before the coupon expires. Take a few (NOT ALL). Please do not take peelies off products though.
- When an item is on sale but isn’t on the shelf, don’t give up. Stop at the customer service desk to ask for a rain check. You’ll get the sale price next time you shop.
- Learn how to shop at the drug stores, you can save hundreds each year on cleaning supplies and toiletries.
- You might want to dive into couponing headfirst, but easing in is probably the better route. Start with a single store while you’re getting your feet wet; you can branch out later as you get used to bargain pricing and coupon policies. I first learned at Publix.
- Sign up for freebies/samples. They usually come with high value coupons.
- Make a separate email account to sign up for coupon offers so you don’t overload your normal inbox.
- Clip coupons from your favorite magazines. All You magazine is the best magazine to get coupons from.
- Shop during non-peak hours. Extreme coupon transactions take time, and other customers will feel impatient if you hold up the line with your coupons. I like to go early in the morning.
- Be considerate to your cashier and to the people lined up behind you.
- Never photocopy coupons. Some stores will no longer accept coupons that even appear to be photocopied.
- Avoid hoarding. Items usually go on sale on a 6 to 8 week cycle. Stock up on enough to take you through the sales cycle and no more.
- Shop local when it comes to produce. Your local CSA or farmers market is a great place to get in season produce. I also like the produce at Save-a-Lot and Aldi’s. Couponing does not need to be unhealthy.
- Be patient. You won’t save 80 percent on your groceries during your first trip; but you may save 5 or even 10 percent. It may be that the items your family needs rarely go on sale and saving 10-15% is the max your family will save.
- Give your paper coupons before handing over your store rewards card to your cashier. A lot of times the paper coupon is a higher value than the stores’ digital manufacturer coupons. Only one manufacturer coupon per item.
- Buy produce seasonally. Freeze or can what you won’t use that moment.
- Check out several deal and couponing sites.
- Have fun! Don’t make saving money a chore, a test, or boring. You are doing a great thing by saving your money family- take pride in that and don’t stress.
I hope you enjoyed my top couponing tips! What others tips, rules do you follow for your family?
Photo Credit: Flickr CC StockMonkeys.com (text added)