By now I bet everyone has seen the special “Extreme Couponing “ on TLC. That show made couponing look so time consuming and difficult. While using coupons to the extent that the people on the show used them would require some serious life changes, you can still coupon, save money and live a regular life.
Here are a few tips for getting started:
- Know the sale cycle – Most items go on sale every 2 to 3 months. The trick is to only buy items when they are on sale, and at that time buy enough of the item to last you until it goes on sale again. The 2 to 3 months is just an average, some cycles are longer or shorter than others. And some items never go on sale. Remember to check multiple grocery stores for sales. Each store will have its own sale cycle.
- Know each stores coupon policy – Some stores triple coupons one day a week, other stores may double a coupon up to a dollar, others still may honor manufacturers coupons. Learn all of this information and figure out which store will save you the most money.
- Learn the art of stacking – Stacking is when you combine a manufacturer’s coupon with a store coupon. Almost all stores allow this practice. Just read the fine print on your coupon to determine whether or not it was issued by the store or by the manufacturer. If you stack at a store that doubles or triples coupons and the item you’re buying is already on sale you can save some serious money.
- Collect as many coupons as you can – You can sign up for rewards cards at stores, sign up for newsletters with the makers of your favorite products, buy a newspaper or two, ask your friends and relatives to save their unused coupon inserts for you, go to company websites or coupon sites, look for coupons in the aisles of the store (those are usually referred to as “blinkies”), check your receipt print out (those coupons are usually referred to as “catalinas”), you can even buy coupons from a clipping service. Or you can try my personal favorite coupon getting trick – write to the makers of your favorite products. I usually either tell them what I like about their product or offer a suggestion that would make it better. Either way I’m always honest. I’d say about half the time I receive coupons back from the company.
- Don’t be afraid to get a rain check – If the store is out of a popular item that is on sale, simply go to customer service and ask for a rain check. They’ll write you a ticket that allows you to come back to the store at a later date and buy that item for the sale price. If you have any coupons that may expire before the store gets in the next shipment of the item they can make a note on the rain check that will allow you to use the expired coupon.