Coupon Like a Pro

If you ever caught an episode of TLC’s show “Extreme Couponing,” you probably think you have to have some great commitment skills to coupon correctly. The truth is, you can save big with a few simple steps to use coupons to your advantage. You do not need to clear out your garage to stockpile and save.

If you want to coupon like a pro, start here:

Key Tips:

  • Don’t buy an item just because you have a coupon for it. If you are likely not going to buy the product, just save your dollars.
  • Don’t bend the rules on your coupons. Later, how to use the coupons will be discussed in detail.
  • Be organized and prepared. Couponing can be quite easy if you know the proper ways to use them.

Types of Coupons

  • Manufacturer
    These coupons are generally found in newspaper inserts or other printed material that comes directly from the manufacturer of the product. Sometimes these coupons can come in the mail or are found in the packaging of a product.
  • Store
    Many stores will advertise coupons in their flyers or in their stores. These types of coupons can only be used in said store.
  • Printable
    There are many legitimate websites that offer printable coupons. Such websites include: coupons.com, redplum.com and retailmenot.com. 

How do I use coupons?
The most important thing to remember when couponing is to use them appropriately. Stores accept coupons as a convenience to you. No store is required to accept any coupons at all. If people misuse or abuse the coupon system, stores could stop accepting them altogether.

  • Know the coupon rules of the store you plan to use your coupons at. Each store has a different policy, so make sure you follow the rules of the store you are shopping at.
  • Read the coupon and the fine print. Most coupons have limits on how many products you can use it on. They will also list the size of the product applicable to the coupon. For example, the coupon might exclude “trial size” versions of the product or list the size you must purchase.
  • Stacking coupons: In certain instances, you can use two coupons for a single product. For instance, the manufacturer might offer a coupon for the same product the store also has a coupon for. Keep in mind that it is often impossible to stack two manufacturer coupons together or two store coupons.
  • Overages: On rare occasions, it is possible to receive cash back due to an overage. Walmart is one store that does allow this. For example, if your coupon is for $1.00 off and the product cost is $0.75, the store will give you $0.25 back. Not all stores will allow this.

How do I organize coupons?
A huge way to make couponing easy is to have a proper way to organize. There are a variety of ways this can be done. Some people can use a few envelopes, while others have a folder system or use a binder.

No matter which device you use, successful couponers have a way to categorize their coupons to find them easily. These categories may include things like: toothpaste, deodorant, snacks, breakfast foods, hair supplies, makeup, medicine, beverages, paper products, etc.

How do I make a shopping list with coupons?

While extreme couponers will basically buy anything that is on sale, a smaller scale couponer can just focus on what is needed. Make a list of what you actually need to shop for and then consult with your categories.

Consider being a bit flexible with brands if you are looking to really save some change. Many people can get away with choosing toothpaste or shampoo of differing brands.

Be considerate when couponing
There’s nothing more maddening than getting stuck behind someone in line at a cash register fumbling through their coupons, punching a calculator or arguing the way the coupon should be used. You need to be considerate when using coupons at the register. Here’s how to be prepared when checking out:

  • As stated above, know the rules of the store and the coupon(s) you are using. Be sure the coupon has not expired and the size of the product you are purchasing is accurate.
  • Have your coupons organized BEFORE getting in line. Take a moment to step aside and pull out the coupons you intend to use.
  • Let the cashier know you plan to use coupons. They may want to see the coupons before they start your transaction.

Final Thoughts
You can easily coupon like a pro with a few simple tips and tricks. Extreme couponers are a rare breed and it is simply unnecessary to take it that far. You only need to buy things you and your family will actually use. Once you get organized, know how to use the coupons at the stores you shop at and be considerate of your fellow shoppers, you will be saving money in no time.

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