How to coupon

Using 50-cent coupons will only get you so far, but if you’re aiming for big savings you will have to adopt a smarter and more effective coupon strategy.

Smart Coupon Strategy is about maximizing the coupons to save money. The trick is to get double and triple discounts on the same item, by matching the items already on sale with the coupons. This is known as discount stacking. It is the core of couponing and the only way to get groceries for free.

Here’s an example: Say you have a $1.00 manufacturer coupon for a shampoo bottle that’s normally priced at $3.50. So now that bottle costs you $2.50. Nice, but not enough…

If however you hang on to the coupon and wait patiently until that bottle goes on sale for $2.00 and only then use the coupon – you get that same shampoo bottle for only $1.00. Nice, but you can do even better…

If you shop at a store that double coupons or allow you to stack coupons – this time you pay nothing for that shampoo!  

That’s all there is to it – Play your cards right and get groceries for free!

O.K., so how to coupon smart? What most people don’t know is that when the large companies start pushing certain product, it is usually done in two waves.

Initially – they’ll put out coupons to start bumping up sales. Later on in the promotion campaign, any time between 3-4 weeks later, they’ll move onto sale prices.

There are two reasons for this.

  1. They’d rather have a steady and long boost in sells rather than a spike.
  2. People who bought the product with coupons and liked it would probably buy it again on their next month’s shopping trip if it’s on sale.
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Your Smart Coupon Strategy should be to hang on to the coupons and be patient. Don’t use them immediately. Instead – Keep them until the products come on sale. Only use them on top of the already reduced sale price.

What I do is this:

  • I take out the coupon inserts from the Sunday paper and keep them.
  • During the weekend, while having my coffee I leaf thru them and clip out grocery coupons or food coupons for all of the products I usually buy, regardless whether they’re on my shopping list for this week or not.
  • I do the same with my favorite store’s magazine.
  • I organize the coupons in my coupon organizer according to product type. In it I keep all of my various coupon types – my Sunday paper coupons, my grocery store coupons, coupons I’ve downloaded and printed online and coupons I’ve collected (blinkies, tearpads etc.) during my previous shopping trips
  • Now comes the planning part. I go over my shopping list, my pantry and my coupons, and try to figure out whether I have enough coupons, or do I need to go online and search for some more.
  • If needed, I log into my favorite grocery coupon websites (including this site!) and download a few more grocery coupons, or order a few more Sunday paper coupons from a coupon clipping service (eBay is also a good option).
  • I wait for a double-coupon day/week (not a must, but it improves the savings).
  • Before going to the store I leaf through my wad of coupons to remind myself what I have (most of them have been clipped 3-4 weeks ago).
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Entering the store I pick up its magazine and look for some more interesting store coupons and sales. I also look for sales thru out the store and try to match them with my coupons.    

Magically, most of the 3-4 week old coupons sync up very well with stuff that’s already on sale on the shelves.

  • Sale price combined with coupons gets me products for less than half the usual price. And on double-coupon days/week I practically get many groceries for free.
  • While at the store I pick up more coupons (blinkies, tearpads etc.) and see if they mach my shopping list. If they do – great. If not – they’ll wait in my coupon organizer for next week’s shopping trip.

Smart Coupon Strategy is the core of effective couponing. Double Coupons and Coupon Stacking are nice to have, and while they do improve the savings they are certainly not a must.

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3. How to use coupons for beginners: Maximize your savings

Aside from actually finding coupons, knowing how to use them is the next most difficult step for couponers that are just starting out.

As we mentioned above, there are so many different types of coupons available, from product coupons to coupons that get you a discount off your whole purchase at a particular store to brand coupons.

So, it can be difficult to know how to actually use them.

You might have questions like:

  • “Can I use a manufacturer coupon and a store coupon together?”
  • “How many coupons can you use on one item?”
  • “Can you use a BOGO coupon with another coupon?”

And, you’re not alone!

Many people who are new to couponing wonder how they can use them.

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The fact is, there are quite a few ways that you can combine or stack coupons as the practice is referred to in the couponing world.

If you really want to maximize how much you save with coupons, then you really should be combining them where you can.

Closing thoughts

It’s really easy to become overwhelmed when you first start couponing.

There are so many places to get coupons, complex store coupon policies to understand and a plethora of ways to stack coupons – there’s a lot to take in.

That’s why we really recommend taking a step-by-step approach to couponing as a beginner.

So, follow step one in this article, before moving onto step two and so on. This really helps you to stay organized and streamlines the couponing process.

Here’s a quick recap of the steps above:

  1. Gather your supplies – get everything you’ll need to collect, print and store your coupons
  2. Find your coupons – Use a mix of offline sources, like newspapers, and online sources, like coupon websites to collect coupons
  3. Use your coupons strategically – Stack coupons wherever possible using the methods we discussed above.
  4. Understand coupon policies – Print out the policies for the stores you shop at regularly.
  5. Tips & hacks– Stay organized, be polite and prepared, and don’t take too many of one discounted item.

So, follow this step by step guide on how to start couponing for beginners, and start saving.

Coupons really are a great tool for saving money.

After all, if you can get a discount on most of the stuff you buy, then you significantly cut your monthly spending.

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