I’m so confused! How do I start using coupons?
I want to pay just tax for my groceries like they do on TV!
Ok. Let’s be realistic. Shows that you see on TV are in fact “reality” type shows. Shopping trips are sensationalized, coupon policies relaxed etc. But can you still save BIG, even in Rockford? The answer is an ABSOLUTE YES!
So how do I get started?
Many people would like to coupon but they do not know how to get started. They use one or two coupons here or there and in the end saving $1 or less doesn’t make a big difference. One big mistake is that people try to do too much in the beginning. Here are some helpful tips:
- Start your coupon collection. Sunday papers are still a great spot to get coupons. I keep every coupon in the inserts (unless it is something I know I will never use even if it is free!). Call your local paper and set up home delivery of the Sunday paper. It is a lot cheaper than buying a paper at the store! Ask about a discount price if you have more than one paper delivered. You can get the Chicago Tribune delivered in many areas for $0.50 (Sunday only). Click here and enter codes (just one) X277 or X264 or X843 to see if it is available in your area!
- You can find printable coupons all over the internet. The main ones are coupons.com, Smart Source, Red Plum and Coupon Network. We have links to them all on our weblog here on the right side. You may print each coupon twice!
- It is helpful to have more than 1 coupon for an item (for ex: to have three (3) of the same coupon for say Pampers). Then wait until there is a sale and stock up! An item goes on sale, on average, every 3 months so as you get going try to stock up on commonly used items using coupons and a sale. If you miss a sale, be patient! A sale will be back!
- Start small! Start with a store with which you are familiar. Pay attention to prices, location of merchandise and where they put clearance items, etc. You may find some great deals with coupons in the clearance section!
- DO NOT expect to save 90% the first time (or ever!) 50% is awesome! Remember any savings is money back into your pocket!
- Keep your coupons organized and with you! I use a binder but you do not have to do that! Use whatever system works for you. Some use shoe boxes, some envelopes. Whatever works for you! But get them out of the bottom of your purse
- Know your store’s coupon policy. Do they double? Up to what amount? Can you stack store coupons with manufacturer ones? Do they accept internet coupons? Can you use a B1G1 (buy one get 1) coupon AND another cents off coupon together? How many like coupons do they accept in a transaction? Make sure you know what you can and cannot do! We have a link to many store coupon policies here on our site. If you aren’t sure just ask.
- Bigger is NOT always better! Change your thinking from “but I can get $1 off the larger one” to “but I can get the smaller one and pay only pennies for it!” For ex: Crest may be $2.99 for say 8.2 oz. You have a coupon for $0.50 off 1 Crest 6.4 oz. or larger. That store will double your coupon (FYI Schnucks/Logli/Hilander doubles every day!). So you would pay $1.99 for the 8.2 oz. size. Pretty good deal right? Maybe and maybe not. Right next to the 8.2 oz. Crest is a 6.4 oz. size that is on sale for $1.00. Your coupon that is $0.50 off 1 says you can use it on any Crest 6.4 oz. or larger. Therefore you would want to get the smaller 6.4 oz. Crest. Why? Because it is on sale for $1.00. Your $0.50 coupon will double making the 6.4 oz. size completely free! You saved yourself $1.99 by buying the 2 oz. smaller Crest! (Toothpaste is something that you will realize as you shop that always goes on sale for $1 or less. Having multiples of the same coupon for that toothpaste allows you to get several at next to nothing or free and stock up until you have more coupons and until the next sale! I have yet to pay more than $0.25 for a tube of toothpaste!)
- Make sure you read the coupon. Watch expiration dates but also read it. For ex: there was a Safeguard bar soap coupon out there for $0.50/1 bar and it had a picture of Safeguard soap on it. BUT if you actually read the coupon it said $0.50 off any one Safeguard OR Ivory! Know what your coupon says. Also know the size restrictions and product restrictions. Does it say not valid for trial/travel size? Does it say on 17 oz. or larger etc? Using coupons correctly will save you headaches at the checkout
- Finally make a list! I never go shopping without my list. I know what each item will cost because I read the ad carefully. I know what my coupon amount is and what my final cost should be. A list also helps me keep shopping under control. Yes I still do browse the store for deals but most often I have a list and stick to it!
Don’t try to take on every store at once! Don’t buy a bunch of items that you don’t need or won’t donate. Don’t buy something just because you have a coupon! In the end you will end up spending more money! Keep track of what you are spending and saving and you’re your savings will add up!