Saturday, October 18, 2008

Coupons in General

If you're like me (or like I was), you're probably wondering how clipping (or printing) a coupon for some cents off here and there is going to ever make a dent in your grocery bill. For those of you who are skeptical and/or new to the art of couponing, let me explain a few of my secrets:

  • Never use a coupon on an item at regular price. Obviously, $0.35 off a box of granola bars that costs $2.99 is far from a stellar deal. Though every bit helps and will add up eventually, you can do much better. Read on.
  • Wait until the sale price is good (or great) before using your coupons. When your granola bars are on sale 2/$3.00, your $0.35 coupon makes a bigger dent. Matching coupons up with sales is key.
  • Find out if any stores in your area do double or triple coupon days. Stores usually have a maximum amount they will double (i.e. coupons up to $0.50) and sometimes a maximum number of coupons they will double in a transaction (i.e. up to 15 coupons doubled per transaction). Combine this with a sale, and your coupon gets a lot more mileage. Your $2.99 granola bars are now down to $.80 a box.
  • Look for store coupons as well as manufacturer coupons. They can be combined to go toward the same item. This is a great way to get things free (see example of Pert Plus in the previous post). Store coupons can be found on store websites, in their ads, and monthly circulars. Manufacturer coupons can be found online, in newspaper inserts, in magazines, on tearpads or blinkies in the store aisles, or in your mail.
  • Clip and print coupons for any items that your family uses or would use if you got them dirt cheap or free. When you find coupons you're pretty certain you will use, it is much easier (at least for me) to clip or print them when you come across them, than try to find them when the sale actually comes up. If you don't use them, you haven't lost much.
  • Clip all high dollar value coupons. If you scroll through the coupons on the sidebar, for example, you should find some coupons for $1 off Kelloggs cereal. In Utah there were always 10 for $10 cereal deals at one store or another. That would mean free cereal! Here the lowest I have seen it go is 2/$3 (though I've only been here 2 months), but $.50 for a box of cereal is still pretty good! High dollar coupons don't usually get doubled, but they go a long way with sales. But, once again, don't just use the coupon because you have it, even if it has a high value. Wait for the deal to come along.
  • Plan to stock up. When you can legitimately get more than one of a coupon, do it! If you stock up on things you know you'll need and use, you won't have to make extra trips to the store to go buy them at full price. Having a food (and other essentials) storage is a great idea anyway!
  • Don't stress out and overdo it. Though you may have more time than money, don't overspend yourself saving. It's true that every little bit counts.
To you couponing newbies:
Did this all make sense?
What other questions or curiosities do you have?
Are you excited to start saving or still not convinced?

To you seasoned savers:
Did I miss anything?
What other general couponing advice do you have?

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