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First you need coupons! Where to find them…
1) Newspaper inserts: At first you may be confused or discouraged looking at your local coupon inserts. How do people save so much when there are so few coupons to be found? The truth is, most papers only receive a small fraction of all the coupons that are actually available. Large metropolitan papers, on the other hand, do contain the bulk of them. In order to receive more coupons, you just need to get your hands on the largest metropolitan area newspaper you can. This may involve picking up the paper on Sundays, or subscribing to home delivery.
2) Online printable coupons: One of the easiest ways to get coupons is to print them yourself at home. Most coupons come with a print limit of two per computer, which means if you have more than one computer at your disposal, you can print more. (Unless there is a limit per household.) To be cost-effective, you need a printer that doesn't blow through ink. A toner printer is usually a good option. You also do not need to print in color. Black and white (grayscale) is fine.
3) Digital coupons: Many stores partner with coupon companies to bring digital coupons to the marketplace. These are usually linked to store loyalty cards or to your mobile telephone number. Digital coupons are “clipped” online to be used at the register electronically. To “clip” them, you browse the available coupons on the store’s coupon site, choose the ones you want, and go shopping. At the register, the coupons you digitally clipped are automatically applied when you swipe your loyalty card or enter your mobile number.
Second you need to use the coupons. How coupons work…
1) Pairing with store sales: The way to really have your grocery savings add up is to pair a good store sale with an available coupon. (Of course, you could always use SavingsAngel.com to help with this.)
2) Checking the fine print: When redeeming a coupon, it’s crucial to follow the coupon’s rules. Coupons have limits, specified varieties, purchase, and/or size requirements, and redemption guidelines. For example, a coupon might say “$1 off when you buy two”. In this case, two of the specified products must be purchased in order to use the coupon.
3) Using more than one coupon (also known as coupon stacking): To get the kind of big savings I promote, you need to use the method of coupon stacking. This is when you are able to use more than one coupon on the same purchase. This only works when using one manufacturer-backed coupon, paired with one store-backed coupon. The important factor is who backs the coupon. For example, a manufacturer’s coupon for “$1 off two”, and a store coupon for the same product that is “$1 off one”. You can use both coupons, purchase two products, and get a total of $2 off. Better yet, if you have two of the store coupons, and can use them both, you could actually use three total coupons on the two products; one for “$1 dollar off two” (backed by the manufacturer), and two “$1 off one” (backed by the store) coupons, for a total of $3 off the two products. That’s coupon magic!
4) Leveraging store offers: Along with stacking coupons, leveraging store offers with coupons is a way to really skyrocket your savings. Store offers, such as “$8 off when you buy eight participating products”, combined with manufacturer’s coupons, can make expensive products extremely affordable. This is when you stock up!
Using coupons does have a learning curve. I advise viewing this time as an opportunity to pay yourself to learn. Too often people give up if they do not see staggering savings their very first shopping trip. But even seasoned couponers see a variance from week to week in their savings. Some weeks are simply better than others for deals. If your first week or two aren’t the stellar results you’d hoped for, don’t give up. Give it at least a good month of learning and saving, and track what you would have spent if you’d not used coupons. Rest assured, as you stick with it, you’ll see your savings increase dramatically.