Now you know the biggest mistakes to avoid when shopping with coupons. To help you save even more money, here are some tips to help you get the most out of your couponing experience:
1. Get In, Get Out
Know what you plan to buy before you go to the store, and only buy the items that you planned to buy. If you stay in the store too long, you become susceptible to their marketing ploys, and you may end up spending more money. Get in, get the deals, and then get out.
2. Know Your Price Points
For every item in your pantry, determine the following price points:
- The Average Price. To get the best deals when shopping, understand the typical price points for items you buy on a regular basis. If necessary, keep a list of average prices for items you purchase. When the items go on sale, you will be better equipped to know if the sale price is really a deal.
- The Maximum Price. This is the maximum price you would ever pay for an item. Buy only one or two items at this price, and only when absolutely necessary.
- The Deal Price. This is the price you want to pay for an item when the item is on sale, and you have a coupon. If the sale and the coupon meet your qualifications for the deal price, then buy enough to last until the next sale.
- The Stock-Up Price. Also known as the Rock Bottom Price. When a sale and a coupon results in the lowest price you’ve ever seen for the item, collect as many of the items as you can. Go for broke!
3. Use the Overage
When your coupons exceed the sale price of an item, it produces an overage. Many stores do not give you cash back for this overage, but will apply the overage towards other items in your shopping cart. You can stock up on toothpaste and shampoo, and buy meat and produce, paying pennies for the entire cart.
4. Present Your Coupons in a Certain Order
You can maximize your savings by handing the cashier your coupons in a specific order. If you have a store coupon for $5 off of a $20 purchase, for example, use that coupon first. Otherwise, your other coupons might negate the $5 coupon by discounting the total amount of the sale to less than $20.
Some stores automatically apply all of your coupons correctly, so the order may not matter. But just in case, give the cashier the price minimum coupon before you give use any other coupons.
5. Get Multiple Copies of Coupons
You can use a coupon for each item purchased. If you purchase two boxes, you can use two cereal coupons. Extreme couponers often buy four or more newspapers every Sunday, just for the inserts. Other couponers order the inserts directly, bypassing the newspapers altogether.
6. Organize Your Coupons
When you collect coupons, you need a place to store them that you can easily access. Put your clipped coupons in a coupon binder with baseball card pages listed from A-Z. Some couponers prefer to file by product, using “P” for popcorn or “S” for salad dressing, while others file by brand name; “A” for Aunt Jemima Waffles or “V” for Vlassic pickles.
Choose what works best for you, and remember to sort coupons by expiration dates, too. Use hanging file folders and storage bins for filing whole inserts. Keep similar pages together, so when you begin to clip them, you can clip them all at the same time. Write down the date of the insert with a black felt-tip pen, so you can identify it more easily when you need to search for a coupon by date.
7. Know Your Store’s Policies
Does your grocer double coupons, price match, accept competitor coupons, or give rain checks if sale items are out of stock? If you don’t know, ask. These policies can help you save even more money, and they may not be prominently advertised.
- Price matching is when a store adjusts their item’s price to match a sale at a local store in the area, thus giving you the same sale price offered by the other store.
- Competitor coupons are store coupons from another grocery chain. Your store may accept competitors’ coupons, but it may not be clear who their competitors are.
- Rain checks may be issued in limited quantities for some items. Walgreen’s does not issue rain checks on items that produce “register rewards,” but they do issue rain checks for non-sale items.
8. Stack Coupons
For each item that you purchase, use one manufacturer’s coupon and one store coupon. For example, if Target has a sale on Planter’s Peanuts for $2.00, you can use a $1.00 Target coupon for Planter’s Peanuts and a $1.00 Planter’s Peanuts coupon, and enjoy a free can of peanuts! You can find store coupons online, or in your favorite store’s weekly flyers.
9. Stockpile Coupons
In addition to looking online and searching through newspapers, look for even more ways to find and stockpile coupons. Ask neighbors and coworkers to save their coupon inserts for you, buy additional Sunday newspapers, and sign up for e-newsletters from companies like Kraft and Proctor & Gamble.
10. Use Rebates
In addition to using store coupons and manufacturers’ coupons, many stores also offer rebates. Stores often print booklets that list rebates for in-store items. If you can’t find a list of rebates, ask a clerk if they have rebate booklets available.