Smart Couponing Tips
*Collect Multiple Sunday Newspapers*
The first coupon tip is to buy multiple Sunday newspapers. The more papers you have the more coupons you get. The more coupons you get, the more money you save! The savings are unbelievable! I asked my family and friends to save their coupon inserts for me as well and that gives me an extra 3 free inserts a week! Also, in most senior citizen communities, there are common area recycling bins and if you are not afraid to climb in one… you can sometimes find the jackpot of coupon inserts! I’ve gotten an extra 7 or 8 of them this way sometimes!
How many newspapers should each household order?
Getting 4-6 newspapers per week is sufficient for most households. If you have a large family you might want to get/order more. (I have a household of 5 plus 3 animals so I usually go for 8-10.) Most newspapers will let you subscribe to up to 9 papers! I walk out to my driveway every Sunday to 5 newspapers. When your cutting all of those coupons and you see all those $ off signs… you’ll realize the few extra dollars or extra time you spent on getting the newspapers already bought itself back! (Don’t forget to throw all the extra newspapers in the recycling bin.)
Why should you collect/purchase multiple newspapers?
You can start creating a “Stock Pile” of products that you need and you can get enough products to last you until the next sale. Instead of just being able to buy 1 item at a good price, you can get multiples of the items! Most stores will take one coupon per item instead of per customer. Imagine not having to buy shampoo, conditioner and deodorant for 6 months!
Is the newspaper the only place where you can get coupons?
No, but it is the most reliable place to get them. You can print some coupons online and get them from other sources, but this can be kind of chancy. You can always count on your newspaper coupons being there when you need them. I’ve also found that the “national” newspapers such as LA Times or NY Post will have better coupon inserts then the more localized newspapers. I don’t live in LA but subscribe to that paper on Sunday just to get the Smartsource that has double the amount of coupons in it!
Most of your great coupon deals will come from SmartSource, RedPlum, P&G Brand Saver, General Mill, etc. These coupon inserts come in your Sunday newspaper. It feels like the newspaper is sending you cash.
*Buy in Bulk*
The second of the coupon tips is to buy in bulk. When an item that your family normally buys goes on sale, buy a lot of it! I once found a deal where I could get a box of pasta for free… so I got ALL my coupons for that pasta and got 15 boxes! Another example would be with the Tuna we like to eat. My family and I personally like the Solid White Albacore Tuna… but it can cost anywhere from $1.49/can to $2.19/can. When it goes on sale for $0.99/can, I’ll buy 10-15 cans and save between $5.00 to $12.00!
If you don’t already shop this way, you’ll have some changes in the way you think about shopping. But it’s so fun, on your first successful shopping trip where you literally leave the store beaming and feeling like you “Robbed” the place… you’ll be hooked and you’ll never want to go back!
Most stores will accept one coupon per item so if you have a $1.00 off coupon for an item on sale for $1.35, buy 10 of the item with 10 coupons and get each item at $.35 with a total of $3.50!
It’ll take about 3-4 months to build up your home grocery store so that you’re only using on-sale food and consumables. Why? Manufacturers place their items on sale about every 3-4 months. So when an item goes on sale, you need to buy enough to get you through to the next cycle. After you build up your stash, shop from your own pantry. Now you’re only eating products that were super cheap.
*Maximize Your Coupons*
Another one of my coupon tips is to maximize your coupons. Now this is the exciting part. When you use a coupon with an in-store sale, you can really save big money. Try to only use your coupons when an item goes on sale!
Coupons are usually valid for 1-3 months after they’ve been issued. Always hold on to your coupons until their expiration date! In-store sales don’t typically coincide with coupons that are coming out in this week’s newspaper so you’ll want to have them on hand for when the sale finally happens.
So how do you maximize your coupons?
This is what made using coupons come alive for me. A grocery store ad will list the items they have going on sale for the week and sometimes have a “store only” coupon to coincide with the item. You can then match your manufacturer coupon WITH their store coupon and get double the savings on the item that is on sale. This is called “Coupon Stacking”. Let me show you how this works. Tums went on sale at Target for $2.29 (70ct) each. I had a manufacturer coupon for $1.00 and the store website had a “Target Only” coupon for $1.00 as well. This gave me $2.00 off the item. I was able to get 5 jars of Tums for $.29 each… totaling $1.45!
You can get really great deals on baby formula by stacking your coupons too! I try to ONLY buy formula when I can stack my coupons!
*Always check clearance racks*
This is an insiders’ coupon tip! Most stores have a specific section where they put all clearance items. This can be a jackpot for you! Just ask any clerk where they put their clearance items and they will guide you. Sometimes with a coupon, you can get paid to take a clearance item off the shelf!
The tip inside this tip is to NEVER LEAVE HOME WITHOUT YOUR COUPON ORGANIZER because you never know when you’ll come upon a great deal! I seem to learn this lesson the hard way. Sometimes I won’t want to bring my organizer with me and then THAT is the trip I see something on the clearance rack or a deal that I didn’t see in the paper! At least just leave it in your car! (Hide it and LOCK the car!)
*Keep your Coupon Organizer updated and organized*
Every Sunday is my “coupon” day. After I’ve organized and cut all my inserts, I place all the coupons out on a table and group them, somewhat, in their categories. Then I sit down with my binder and go through section by section and take out the expired and place in the new. Not only does this help me almost memorize the coupons I have but also it saves the disappointment of finding a coupon for an item on sale, then soon realizing it had expired! Also you want to keep the thickness and weight down in your binder.
You’ll find that a lot of the times you will just be replacing coupons with the same ones. Manufacturers send out the new coupons the same week their prior ones expire.
A great way to use your expired coupons is to look online for a military base that will let you mail all the expired coupons to. In the military they are allowed to use expired coupons for their purchases. It’s always nice feeling like you are helping out.
*Be prepared for your shopping trip*
The last of the couponing tips is that you never want to go on your shopping trip unprepared! The best advise I can give you is to match all your coupons to your sales, have them already out and separated and write a “shopping” list with your planned savings listed next to the item. This will save a lot of time and frustration in the store and at the checkout stand.
*Tips of the Trade*
Successful coupon shoppers also use the following tips to maximize their savings.
- When an item is Buy One Get One Free, often two coupons can be used. You are using a coupon for “each” item taking double the price off the item you have to pay for in order to get the other one free!
- If the coupon says “off any size”, it’s often more profitable to use it on the smallest size. (No size restrictions can get you trial sized items FREE!)
- If the store is out of an advertised sale item, get a rain check. Use it later with coupons.
- Keep a list of needed items.
- Plan your meals around items in your food storage.
- Avoid trips to convenience and corner stores. I hate to say it but try to even avoid club stores too! (Say not to Costco!)
- Don’t shop when hungry. This will reduce impulse buys.
- Remember one store does not have the lowest prices on everything.
- Check expiration dates on food items, especially when stockpiling.
- Watch for price discrepancies at checkout. Make sure all coupons are deducted.
- Check your policies online every now and then and make sure they haven’t been updated.
- Try different brands. Eliminating brand loyalty increases savings.
- Have fun and be proud of the savings!
What is a Catalina Coupon?
“Catalinas” are also known as “Check-out Coupons” or “Rewards”. You can use them just like you would use cash on your next shopping trip to that retailer. You’ll need to watch the expiration dates of these vouchers because they do expire. You have to pay close attention while reading the store ads because they will show you which items to buy and receive the “Catalina” in return. Look for these in ALL store ads. (Drug stores included.)
Here’s a simple solution. Buy all your Catalina items on one receipt. Then run your bread, milk, eggs, and fresh produce through on another receipt. You can use your Catalina voucher to pay for the perishables. This way you don’t ever have to worry about your voucher expiring.
There are manufacturer Catalina coupons and store Catalinas. If you’re using a manufacturer Catalina, you can’t use a manufacturer coupon along with it. If you’re using a store Catalina, you can use it along with a manufacturer coupon.
How do people get multiples of one specific item?
In this case you need to have one coupon for EACH item. Most of the coupons will say in fine print that you can only use one per purchase… this generally means per “item” purchase. So if you see a great deal and you want to buy 8 of that item, then you’ll need 8 coupons.
Will a store take my coupon if it’s expired?
Most stores are pretty strict when it comes to expiration dates. I would never count on sneaking them past once you get to the check stand with all of your product. I’ve called stores and have asked before and every now and then I will find a store that accepts them. Always get the name of the person who said they would be accepted.
Can I use a Buy One Get One Free (BOGO) coupon on a store sale that has a BOGO item?
In most cases YES!!! This is where maximum savings comes in! If a store is having their own sale for a BOGO item AND you have a coupon for that exact item that is also BOGO, then you’ll get both items without spending a dime. Now some stores have caught on to this and have changed their policy to not let this happen, so in this case you would do the Buy One Get Three Free deal! Here is an example. A drugstore most of the time puts deodorant as a BOGO item… So you’d buy the 1st one at full price, grab your 2nd one free, then pair a BOGO coupon with EACH of those 2 deodorants to grab 2 MORE DEODORANTS FREE! Four deodorants for the price of one isn’t too bad!
Can I use my coupons on trial size or travel size items?
Yes! Sometimes a coupon will state that you can use the discount on any one item. If in fine print underneath the savings it doesn’t state what the coupon excludes then you can use it on the smaller sized items.
I once had a $1.00 off coupon for Cascade Dish Detergent with no size restriction on it… and their trial size bags went on sale for $0.97. I got 4 bags free PLUS got an additional $0.12 off my transaction due to the overage.
Make sure you read the coupon thoroughly though because most coupons will exclude certain sizes.
Wait… what is OVERAGE?
(What happens when I use a coupon that is more savings than the cost of the item?)
In this situation you’d get “credit” towards your other items. A store will never hand you money to walk out the door with their product but they will apply it to other items. Example: If you have a $1.00 of coupon for toothpaste that is on sale for $0.88, then you’ll get $0.11 off your bill towards other items you are buying. I once had a coupon for $2.50 off the purchase of 2 dental flosses that were on sale for $0.99 each. I bought four @ $3.96 and gave them two coupons to receive $5.00 off and that extra $1.04 went towards the milk I bought too!
*Here are some helpful posts I’ve written*