I am asked often on my social media pages how to get started couponing. Many have wondered why I spend so much time checking store ads and clipping coupons. I relate coupons to money. Each coupon insert I throw away is just like throwing away money. Basically, each coupon is money. Coupons have assigned values and I want to ensure I get the most bang for my buck. I have worked hard to get a system down that works for me and my oldest helps me a lot! So what are the first step to using coupons? The answer to that is clipping! But where to even begin?
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Here are some tips on how to become a coupon clipping diva:
- Be familiar with the store’s coupon policies before you begin clipping. The last thing you want to do is waste your time clipping coupons that you won’t be able to use. This is why it’s important to check out the store’s policies ahead of time. For example, the grocery store I frequent allows doubling of coupons up to 50 cents, but I’m limited to five coupons per item. Another store in my area also doubles coupons but limits me to eight coupons per item. The store policies vary. Call ahead or check out your store’s website for the policies.
- Avoid clipping coupons you won’t use. One of the biggest mistakes that many people make when they start their couponing journey is clipping every coupon they lay eyes on. It’s important to be realistic and honest with yourself. When you clip coupons that you’ll never use, you run the risk of cluttering your coupon organizer and never using any of your coupons. My hubby always says to work smarter and not harder. Clipping coupons can be a tedious task and the last thing you want is to add to that tedious task. You know what your family likes and the items your family uses often. On a side note, I do, however, clip each and every coupon I lay eyes on because military families stationed overseas can use those coupons up to 6 months post expiration date. I have taken these coupons to the American Legion to ship them and I’ve also sent these coupons to CoupsForTroops.
- Make sure you’ll use the items you’re clipping for. Do you find yourself clipping coupons for quinoa when you know you’ll never actually eat it? A lot of people get so caught up in finding a great deal that they lose sight of what they actually want and need vs. what will provide them with the most savings. However, I know many couponers who coupon for the best deals and donate what they know they won’t use to charity such as the local food bank. When Clay was active duty Army, I also couponed similar to this and would walk out of the store with free items from my coupon take. We would donate bags of groceries to Soldiers who were struggling financially.
- Subscribe to the paper or to a coupon service. It’s hard to maximize your coupon savings if you do not regularly have coupons on hand. I order coupons from a few places and I also have a local gal that operates a coupon service. Purchasing only the coupon inserts from these places is more cost-effective for me than buying the entire paper just for coupons.
- Clip and print coupons. I want to start out with a piece of advice about this – establish another email account primarily for online coupons! You will thank me later. A lot of people limit their savings potential by only clipping coupons from newspaper circular advertisements and store advertisements. While you will want to clip coupons directly from the stores you’ll be shopping, you can save even more money by printing coupons from the Internet. If the store allows, use manufacturer coupons in combination with store coupons to maximize savings.
- Check out Manufacturers. One fantastic way to get more coupons is by going to manufacturers of products you love and telling them that! Are you partial to a specific brand of dog food? Email them! Tell them how fantastic they are and you would love more coupons from them. This is another good reason to have that second email! Most times, manufacturers are so thankful you love their product, they will send you coupons. Sometimes these coupons are very rare and have a greater savings value than regular coupons!
- Store Savings Cards. I cannot stress enough – if you really want to get the most bang for your buck, get the card! No, not the credit card, the store savings card! I cannot tell you how many thousands of dollars I save per year using store cards! I shake my head when the customer in front of me declines to sign up for the store card. Y’all, that is money lost! The cards are not credit cards. Think of it as a coupon card. Every time you swipe this card, you’re saving money through the in store sales. Most places now have cards and all you have to do is ask. They will also email you special savings. Tonight I went to Kroger and because I spent $80 on groceries and I have a store card, they gave me an EXTRA 300 points to use for gas! Earlier today I received an email about this special they were having and I downloaded the coupon for the extra points into my Kroger card. Since I was going to the store anyway, this was just another way to maximize my savings. Also, I want to point out that you can use your store card WITH coupons to further increase your savings!
- Look for sales when you’re clipping. One of the ways you can save bundles of money is by using coupons for items that are already on sale. In many cases, you’ll end up walking away with items that are completely free of cost. When you do your coupon clipping, you’ll want to pay close attention to what deals or sales the store is offering and then match your coupons accordingly. Sometimes, you can maximize these savings and the store actually owes you a credit, which you can then apply to items that rarely have coupons, such as meats.
- Swap coupons with family, friends, and neighbors. Does your family member, friend or neighbor eat Greek yogurt while you eat regular yogurt? Once you’ve finished clipping from your circulars, swap with one another so that you can both find more coupons to clip.
- Organize your coupons after you clip them. There’s no sense is spending your time and energy if you’ll end up losing or forgetting them anyway. Whether you choose to store them in an old wallet or a homemade coupon tote bag, it’s important to find an organizational method that works for you. If you want a couple of suggestions for organizing coupons HERE and HERE. Honestly I use so many coupons that I am using something similar to this HERE.
These are just some tips on how to become a coupon clipping diva! Once you begin couponing regularly, you will begin to see what works for you.