Thanks for joining us for the final installment of the “How to Shop For Groceries” series. I hope it’s been informative and inspiring. Today I will talk about coupons. You can’t turn on the TV these days without seeing some show where people are paying 80 cents for hundreds of dollars of groceries while using TONS of coupons. I will not be talking about extreme couponing, since I am not an expert on that, and I think the average shopper doesn’t have the time and energy to put into it. Most people are just looking to save money at the grocery store. The good news is that even moderate coupon use will help you do that.
You can find some coupons in the store circular, so if you have it mailed to you, look for them before you shop. You can always pick up a sale circular at the store too. Another good source of coupons are the coupon dispensers you will find in the grocery aisles next to specific products.
When it comes to manufacturer’s coupons, you will want to get a copy of the Sunday paper. Did you know you can get just the Sunday paper delivered? Check with your local newspaper for subscription options. You will find so much potential savings that it is worth it to get the Sunday paper. If you know someone who gets the Sunday paper and is willing to give you the coupons, that is even better. You may be able to accumulate quite a stash of coupons just for asking.
An important thing to do before you start using coupons is check your store’s coupon policy. There are lots of store rules that will affect your coupon use. Does your store double coupons? If so, you really need to start using them. Anytime you see a show where people are saving a crazy amount with coupons, doubling is usually involved. What does doubling mean? Basically the store will double the face value of a coupon up to a certain point. When we lived in New York, our local grocery store doubled up to 75 cents. What that meant was that they would double the value of any coupon up to 75 cents. They would not double a coupon for $1, but a 75 cent coupon would be worth $1.50. This was great and saved me a lot of money. Here in Northern California, no one doubles coupons. It was quite a shock to me when we moved here and I had to give up New York pizza and double coupons. If you live in a place that doubles, please take advantage of it. If you are in the land of no double coupons like me, you just have to be a little more creative.
The most effective way to save money using coupons is to match a coupon to a sale. If you have a $1 coupon for detergent and you use it when the detergent is on sale you will save more than if you use it when the product is not on sale. Simple right? Well, it’s not so simple when you are the one who has to go through the sale circular and your stash of coupons trying to match them up. Luckily, these days there are lots of free websites that will help match up your coupons to your store’s current sale. My favorite is Coupon Mom where you can look up your local grocery chain, see the sales for the week and which recent coupons you can use to help you save even more. It will tell you the date the coupons were published and who published them (Red Plum, Smartsource, P & G). The site will even tell you the percentage you will save just for using your coupon while the item is on sale.
Now that you have all these coupons, where do you put them? I organize my Sunday paper coupons in a binder with sleeve protectors. I sort them according to they date they came out. I do not cut mine out and organize them that way because on the side of the coupon insert it says the name of the publisher and the date they were published and this helps me when using the internet to search for coupons. I also like to keep all the coupons because if something is an incredible deal with a coupon I will purchase it, even if it’s not a product I normally buy. Some people find it very helpful to cut out the coupons they will use and file those. You just need to find a system that works for you and stick to it. Once a month I go through all my coupons and remove the ones that have expired.
This is just the tip of the iceberg as far as saving with coupons. There are tons of websites that will take you a lot more in depth if you are looking for that. Don’t be overwhelmed by feeling like you need to do everything at once. If you just incorporate coupons into your shopping trip on a basic level you will be saving money. Have fun spending LESS and saving more!
Join us next week for Thrifty Thursday!