If you have never dipped into the couponing world before, this post is for you. Couponing is a great way to save money on your family budget. Shows like Extreme Couponing scare a lot of people away because of the absurdness of the stockpiles. You can save money on what your family consumes or will donate without spending hours couponing. Here are my top 25 couponing tips for beginners!
Top 25 Couponing Tips
I love to coupon! I had a friend introduce me to couponing years ago. 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 items 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.
1. Do Not Cut Any Coupon Inserts. Instead, buy an inexpensive file box and file each insert by the week’s date. Isn’t your time worth more than spending hours clipping coupons for things you do not need?
2. 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.
3. Give Up some Brand Loyalties. Give up brand loyalties and the assumption that the store brand is always the cheapest.
4. Don’t Shop Club Stores. 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.
5. Know Your Store’s Coupon Policy. Keep copies of the coupon policies from each store you shop at with you. Sometimes the cashiers are not informed on their coupon policy. You can also have these bookmarked on your phone.
6. Use your smartphone to save money. Checkout 51, Target Cartwheel, Ibotta, Saving Star, and others are apps that help you save on top of savings coupons.
7. 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.
8. Learn the lingo! Check out my post on the lingo HERE.
9. Collect in Store Coupons. 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 on sale before the coupon expires. Take a few (NOT ALL). Please do not take peelies off products though.
10. Utilize Rain Checks. 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.
11. Coupon at Drug Stores. Learn how to shop at the drug stores, you can save hundreds each year on cleaning supplies and toiletries.
12. Start Slow. 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.
13. Freebies and Samples. Sign up for freebies/samples. They usually come with high-value coupons.
14. Set up a Couponing Email. Make a separate email account to sign up for coupon offers so you don’t overload your normal inbox.
15. Clip Magazine Coupons. Clip coupons from your favorite magazines.
16. Shop during non-peak hours. Couponing 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.
17. Courtesy Goes Far. Be considerate to your cashier and to the people lined up behind you.
18. Never photocopy coupons. Some stores will no longer accept coupons that even appear to be photocopied.
19. 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.
20. Shop locally 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.
21. 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.
22. Coupon Order. 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.
23. Buy produce seasonally. Freeze or can what you won’t use that moment.
24. Check out several deal and couponing sites. I follow a couple different websites that share coupon matchups for the stores near me. My favorite deal blogs are Addicted to Saving and I Heart Publix.
25. 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?
Post originally published July 31, 2014.