Using coupons, or “couponing”, can save you thousands of dollars a year. To gain the skills needed, it takes practice, patience, knowledge and discipline. Follow these rules and you can become an expert:
- Look for coupons in your daily mail, Sunday newspaper, online supermarket sites, and dedicated online coupon sites. You can even download digital store and manufacturer coupons directly to your supermarket reward card. When leaving for a shopping trip, always make sure you have your reward card as well as any coupons you might need.
- File your coupons in an organized way, by category, store and expiration date. You can use a sorting file made for this purpose to sort by category (or store) and place the coupons that expire soonest in the front of that category. When creating your grocery list, go through your coupons to see what matches your list, or bring the file with you.
- Don’t have the time to spend filing your coupons? Take a folder and simply store all the coupons you receive (and are likely to use) over an 8-week period. On week 9, get rid of week 1 coupons and continue this way so you always have the most recent coupons available. When creating your grocery list, go through all your coupons to see what matches your list and bring them with you.
- Don’t rush to use every coupon, but wait until a sale can be coordinated with it. Store and manufacturers coupons can be combined or “stacked” to maximize your savings. In some cases, double or triple the coupon’s value are available and really make the savings incredible. For example, a store has a 16 oz. sour cream (regularly $1.99) on sale for 99 cents. You have a $1.00 off coupon and when applied it means you get the item for free. Even a 50 cents off manufacturer’s coupon doubled can yield a free item like this one. If you are a big user, obtain multiple coupons and buy 2 or 3, all free!
- Always ask for a “rain check” if the item you are looking for is temporarily out of stock. Ask for multiple quantities (or the maximum you can purchase). Many times the rain checks have no expiration date and when you use them you can buy just one item, and then use the rain check again at a future time. Just ask for the rain check back after it’s been recorded.
- Make sure you have a store reward or loyalty card. Promotional prices and coupons are not always available to everyone and cardholders get the best prices. They’re free and essential to saving money each week.
- Before you use your coupons at checkout, be sure that 1) you have the right product, size and number of items, 2) the coupon is not expired, and 3) you read the fine print (such as cannot be doubled, or one coupon per item).
Now you’re on the road to making couponing a big part of your supermarket savings!