Shopping smart with coupons can shave off $5-$10 dollars on your weekly trips to the supermarket. There are a variety of offers, sales, discounts and more which can be combined with store coupons to save big on shopping. While we can't always find a coupon for the product we want, those who have the time and patience to look for them are amply rewarded when its comes to shopping with coupons. As a dedicated coupon mom who has been doing this for more than a decade I would like to share some money saving tips using coupons.
1. Hunting for coupons
Coupons are every where. The Sunday newspapers are full of them. Magazines, fliers, supermarket newsletters all contain them. Pay special attention to inserts in all the above to get more coupons. Companies also send their own ads, magazine and newspaper inserts, which contain special offers and sales on their products. Many websites offer printable coupons, too, which can be printed for use when you go shopping.
2. Why do I need multiple coupons?
I buy several packs of toilet paper every month for my family of 6. If I have a coupon that says $1.00 off on one pack, then I need one coupon for each pack of toilet paper I buy. Also, if the deal is a good one and is a big money saver then I can stockpile on additional packs of toilet paper which I can use for several months down the line. Some deals are too good to miss and so I hunt for as many coupons as I can lay my hands on. You don't have to pay for extra newspaper subscriptions just borrow day-old newspapers from friends/family who don't use their coupons or get it from your place of work. Most end up in the recycling bin any way. Some newsagents may let you have the unsold Sunday newspapers at discounted rates.
Here is Heather on "How to Get More Coupons"
3. Loyalty programs
Stores have loyalty programs that offer extra discounts. Some stores have coupons and deals loaded into the cards so you don't have to swipe them or ring them in when shopping. The store automatically discounts items based on the coupons loaded in the card. This is a huge time and money saving deal that's too good to miss. So join loyalty programs of the all the stores you shop in for super savings on your shopping.
4. Match coupons with store sales
This is time consuming task but offers big savings. If you are short of time don't worry there are blogs by coupon moms, extreme coupon enthusiasts, stockpiling mom and coupon matching websites that do the job for you. Spend a few hours initially to research and find such regular deal seekers in your area who post their finds on their websites and follow them. All you need to do is spend a few minutes browsing through their blogs before your shopping trip to find the deals matching your coupons and you will save much more than you ever did with your coupons.
5. Store policies
Each store has its own policies when it comes to coupons. Some stores do not allow more than one coupon for the same item. Some allow them if you buy another item from the store even if it rather inexpensive like an eraser that's worth 5 cents. Some allow double coupons. Some don't allow you to combine two or more deals to get double benefit. Some allow only one coupon per billing. So learn about these store policies and work with them to get maximum benefit using your coupons.
6. Pay full attention at check-out
After hours of hunting for coupons and picking up products on sale most people forget that the all important step of ringing in the coupons for the items being checked out is still pending. This happened to me a few years back when I took my eyes off the tiller for few seconds to speak to my 2-year old. The busy and hassled cashier forgot to ring in my coupons and I ended up paying full price instead of $3 off on each pack. The coupon said $3 off each diaper pack when you buy two packs. That was one costly learning experience. So remember to pay full attention at the check-out counter.
7. Ask to speak to the manager
I did try to go back and get my discount but the long line of customers and their huge shopping trolleys discouraged my half-hearted attempts to get back in line particularly with a two-year old in tow. So I decided to talk to the store manager and explained my situation. He was gracious enough to ring in the coupons and deduct the extra amount charged and gave me discount on my two packs of diapers. I ended up saving the $6 dollars as originally planned. A second lesson is to not give up if your coupons are not included during billing. You can politely ask the cashier at the counter if she can fix the problem or talk to the manager.
8. Leave your toddler at home
A third lesson I learned while shopping with coupons is to leave the toddler at home. There are several things to consider when shopping with coupons as each has different conditions printed on it. Trying to do this while managing an active toddler needs superhuman capabilities and patience. It is not always possible to leave a child at home but try to time your shopping trips when she is napping in her stroller or when your partner can watch over her while you shop with coupons in hand. Don't stress too much if you miss out on a deal because you had to pay attention to your child. Remember that the child is more important than the deal you missed.
9. Coupon expiration dates
Coupons come with expiration dates printed on them. Some expire within a month while others are valid for 3, 6 or 12 months. Keep track of them and throw away the unused expired coupons as they clutter up your table and cause heart breaks on shopping trips. I keep the coupons organized in binders by store, company and date. Once a month I discard the expired coupons. I spend about an hour a week collecting, organizing and arranging my coupons and planning my shopping trips. This saves me $5-$10 dollars on every shopping trip and sometimes even $20-$30 dollars.
10. Shop at different stores
Those who shop with coupons know that to get the best deals you need to shop at multiple store multiple times. I have 3 major supermarkets that I shop at regularly using my coupons. Apart from them I also shop at other stores when major deals or sales are announced. You can not stay loyal to a store if you want to save big with coupons.
Follow these 10 tips and you will enjoy great savings with coupons.