Couponing for Beginners

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The coupon craze has swept across the country, with classes, clubs and organizations offering “how-to” lessons for those who want to save big bucks on their grocery bills. But if you don’t have time to attend these classes, or if they don’t offer one in your area, here’s a beginner’s guide to couponing to help you get started!

The Basics of Couponing:

  • Learn the Policies
  • Learn Where the Coupons Are
  • Perfect Your Timing

Couponing can be a great way to save money on your grocery bill. But without employing the right strategies, the monetary benefits can be quite underwhelming. To get started on the right track to couponing, you should first understand the basics.

First thing’s first: Learn the coupon policies of your local grocery stores. Most grocery chain stores post their coupon policies on their websites. As an example, see Harris Teeter’s coupon policy here.

Naturally, it may be difficult to memorize the policies of different stores, so printing the rules off and keeping them in a handy notebook or envelope is a good idea. In fact, most serious couponers keep this information along with their shopping lists and coupons in a well-organized binder or file box. Find some tips on organizing your coupons here:

After you’ve familiarized yourself with the policies, the next task is to find some coupons. It may sound old-fashioned, but the Sunday newspaper is still the best source out there for coupons. Some people choose to print their coupons online through a couponing website, which is also effective, but you usually have to download special software (most websites out there offer this for free) or sign up for an account on the manufacturer’s website.

The Sunday newspapers include inserts with lots of great coupons. In order to really make it worth your while, you’ll want to get a hold of several of these inserts. There are a couple of ways you can do this. You can either buy multiple Sunday papers or ask your friends or neighbors to save the coupons they don’t use.

Timing is Everything

Lastly, the real key to successful couponing is timing. You should resist the temptation to use a coupon as soon as you get it. Wait for the item to go on sale or for the store to offer a special promotion on the product, but be aware of the coupon’s expiration date. Most stores run weekly specials with newly slashed prices or attractive promos like “Buy One Get One Free” or “Save $1 Instantly.” Add your coupon on top of the current promotion and you could score a terrific deal!

Another great timing strategy involves stacking your coupons. This means using one manufacturer’s coupon and one store coupon on one item. Target and Walgreens are a few examples of places that allow their store coupons to be stacked with manufacturer’s coupons. (Again, refer to each store’s policy).

Also take note of double or triple coupon days. Double coupon days refer to certain days where stores accept coupons at twice the face value. For instance, if you have a $0.50 off coupon for one item, you will actually receive $1.00 off on a double coupon day. Triple coupon days work the same way, only the store offers three times the face value.

Those stories you hear about people getting their groceries for free or nearly for free, happen when two or more of these timing strategies line up. So if you’re stacking coupons on items that are already discounted on a double or triple coupon day, you’re likely to walk away with an incredible deal! Now get out there and start clipping!

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Lisa is a cost-cutting, money-saving, life-simplifying guru, ready to share her secrets and the tricks up her sleeve. As a mother to a teenager and a twenty-something, avid surfer, and world traveler, Lisa knows how to live the good life on a budget. She covers topics that help us let go of wasteful and costly habits, and embrace those that do our wallets, our bodies, our families, and our planet some good!

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