- Skip the small-town paper. Buy at least 2 copies of the Sunday paper from a bigger city. I always buy 2 copies of the Columbus Dispatch. The bigger-city papers always have more – and often higher-value – coupons in them. You can read the comparison I did between our local paper and the Columbus paper HERE. The extra $1 I have to spend is completely worthwhile!
- Print… now. If you find a printable coupon that you’re pretty sure you’ll use, print it right then. Don’t wait a week until you’re actually read to go shopping. Print limits can be reached fairly quickly, and you never know when a print campaign will end. So grab your copies when you find coupons. My favorite place for printables? Coupons.com, of course!
- Organize… organize… organize. Yes, I know this takes time. However, the time spent getting your menu planned, grocery list organized, and coupons organized will pay off when you do your shopping. Disorganized shopping is incredibly frustrating and very avoidable. To see how I organize my coupons, head over HERE.
- Know thy coupon policies. I’ve run into cashiers who have contradicted what I know to be store coupon policies. I learned – the hard way, of course – to keep a printed copy of each store’s coupon policy in my coupon binder. To get your own copies (personalized with your name), just send an email to your store’s corporate office. I usually go the store’s website and click the link (usually at the bottom of the page) that says Contact Us. Not only does it make you more confident to know exactly what each store allows, having the hard copy usually ends differences of opinion in your favor. Knowledge is power!
- Know when to hold ’em. You may find a super high-value coupon today and be tempted to rush out and use it. Wouldn’t it be good to save $2.00 off your favorite shampoo? Maybe… maybe not. If you hold onto that coupon and watch the sale flyers, you might find that your favorite shampoo goes on sale for 1/2 price, making your $2.00 off coupon much more valuable. Or maybe CVS will run an Extra Care Bucks deal on your shampoo, making it free after your coupon. Or maybe Kmart will offer super double coupons, making your $2.00 coupon worth $4.00. There’s no need to rush out and use your high-value coupons right away. Seasoned couponers know that holding coupons until a sale comes along means free or almost-free products!
- You don’t have to use every coupon. I know… If you clip your coupons (like I do), you have a sense of ownership. You spent 10 seconds clipping the coupon. It owes you. It MUST save you some money, or your time will have been wasted, right? Wrong. You only want to use the coupons that will truly save you money, not ones that make you go out and buy a project just because you had a coupon. I send my expired coupons to a military family overseas. Every month I clean out my expired coupons, pack them up, and send them off. This alleviates the feeling that I’ve wasted time clipping coupons. They are neatly clipped and ready to be sent to someone else who can put them to good use. If you’re interested in donating your coupons, visit the Happy Housewife’s Coupons for Troops. She’ll pair you with a family who wants your expired coupons.
- Persistence pays great dividends. As a new couponer, it’s easy to read the deals posted by other frugal bloggers, seeing their pictures of kitchen tables overflowing with food and personal care items. And they only paid $.99 for everything, right? Instead of getting frustrated, try to learn from these people. Then choose deals that work for your family. You may never get yourself down to a $30 weekly grocery budget. But we can all trim our current budgets. Shopping trips and financial goals aren’t the same for every family. Just stick with the couponing and bargain shopping, and you’ll be amazed at how much you can save!
Couponing and bargain shopping can be quite an adventure! Who would have ever thought that we’d be getting excited about free dishwasher soap? But by pressing on and working to lower our out-of-pocket expenses for food, household items, and personal care items, we can all free up a little more cash to spend on things that are a lot more fun or important than dishwasher soap!
Are you a new couponer? Do you have questions? Feel free to leave a comment asking your question. Just click the Comments link below this post to ask your question. I would be happy to answer them using what I’ve learned along the way. And there are some other great shoppers reading this blog who probably have some excellent advice to share with you!
For more frugal tips, stop by Frugal Friday hosted by Life As Mom.