Your ready to begin couponing after you have read the Basics of Couponing Extremely and understand it fully.
At any given time, your favorite __________ will be on sale. At any given time ___________ will be on sale, since you never know what will be on sale, or when it will go on sale you want to always have a variety of coupons for various products available to you. Keep your eyes open because coupons are available in many different places. You will find manufacturers coupons in newspaper inserts, store shelves (blinkies, tearpads, and peelies), coupon websites, product websites, store websites, product Facebook pages, magazines, brochures, and on product packaging. Get your hands on them however you can. Always buy at least one (1) Sunday newspaper for all the periodicals in your area that offer coupon inserts (most experienced couponers get multiple papers). Ask your friends and family to give you their coupons if they aren’t using them. Another fabulous way to get more coupons is by creating a coupon swap where you can trade coupons as needed. (more information on Coupon Collection below)
Organize your coupons
Organization is the most valuable tool to getting the most value out of your coupons. You can keep your coupons in baggies, envelopes, recipe boxes, binders, accordion files, recycled shoe boxes etc. The coupon organizing methods are various so decide what works best for you according to your shopping style.
Prepare your store sales list
One of the best ways to maximize your coupon shopping trip savings, is to visit your store the night or week before; or for the more extreme coupon(er) do this at the beginning of each month. You will begin at the very first isle, with writing pad, tablet or laptop in hand. As you stroll the isles you are looking for sales tags, noting the sale expiration date, size of the product, complete name of product. You will list this information in its entirety. After completing your list, you will take it home to match up with your coupons to complete your shopping list.
Write your detailed shopping list and plan your trip
Before you step foot into a store for your coupon trip, you will need to be very organized. Collect your recently created store sales list, the store ads (from the paper or from their online website). As you mark the products you wish to by, match them up with a coupon from your collection. You can also use coupon matchup sites. One you have clipped your coupons organize them in a binders, box, envelope or some other holder, keeping them near your sales ads.
Make sure you know your stores coupon policy
I print my stores policies and carry them with me at all times during my coupon shopping trips. You’ll need to know if they accept internet printed coupons, if they limit the number of coupons per transaction, if they double coupons, how many coupons they double, do they allow you to stack store and manufacturer coupons. These are just a few of the questions regarding extreme coupon(ing). You can email the corporate headquarters or the individual stores for this.
Time For Extreme Coupon Shopping!
Now that your list is complete, coupons gathered, the timing is right (don’t shop during rush hours, with children, when your in a rush) your ready to tackle that couponing adventure. Head out to the store and make sure you check your clearance area for good deals. Most people get intimidated with coupons, embarrassed by paying with them or get flustered with time consumption in the store. If you are any of the aforementioned, you will need to train yourself to be stronger, more resilient and patient. Do not be embarrassed to use coupons your first time, because after you see your savings you’ll be embarrassed for those who don’t use them. Be prepared to take a lot of time during checkout when your using coupons, especially when you’re doing a $1000 shopping trip and paying with coupons to bring your total down below $50.00. Remember that in order to get your total down that low, the cashier will have to scan each coupon (sometimes each are only worth $0.50). Always keep your eye on the register tape or computer screen, as products have a tendency to ring up incorrectly or in some cases, they just won’t scan. Be prepared to say something if needed and pull out your coupon policy if the cashier tries to make you believe a false statement about their coupon policy, most of the time many cashiers simply are uneducated on all the policies in regards to coupon usage.
To Stockpile or Not To Stockpile
The more you coupon, the more stuff you will have to stockpile. Many a couponers goal is to buy before you need an item while it’s cheap or free, avoiding paying or to buy it at full price when you absolutely need it. Buying multiple items at your rock bottom price (you will soon learn what is your rock bottom price, it varies for everyone because of store/pricing/needs variations) can save you thousands of dollars annually. Stockpiling also eliminates individual runs to the store when you are out of something, cutting out those impulse buys. Product sales tend to have a cycle, normally every 3 months they go on sale so try to buy enough to get you to the next cycle.
The Sunday Newspaper – Your Sunday paper (or Thursday Newspaper) is still the primary and most reliable place to find coupons; subscribe to home delivery of MULTIPLE copies of various newspapers. I recommend 4-6 newspapers a week (1 per family member is a good guide). Why? Because you’ll get 4-6 of each coupon that comes out that week! A Sunday-only subscription should be very reasonable, and it will very likely pay for itself in ONE shopping trip. You will save HUNDREDS of dollars a month, yes HUNDREDS, and if you want to save the maximum amount each month – get yourself multiple Sunday papers!
Clipping Services – There are several sources on the web that sell pre-clipped coupons, and even full inserts. However the cost you pay is not for the coupon, but for the time, collection, posting, handling and shipping of said coupons. This is a great way to obtain additional coupons for items that you are trying to build a stockpile for. This is also a great way to get your hands on some of the regional coupons that may not have been available in your local paper. For example, if your region received a $1/2 coupon on pasta sauce, and other regions received a $0.50/1 coupon, it might be worth it to purchase the $0.50/1… especially if you shop at a store that doubles! NEVER pay for coupons unless you are going to use them, never buy coupons that will expire soon and always know your sales dates to make sure you will have time to use the coupons.
Internet Printable Coupons – Nearly all stores accept Internet coupons, unless they do not scan properly. There are several sources for internet coupons, the most popular sites being: Coupons.com, CouponNetwork.com, SmartSource.com, and RedPlum.com which is now save.com . The downside to internet coupons is that they have print limits. In most cases, you can print (2) copies of each coupon from each computer. However, the manufacturers also put an overall print limit on each offer, so if you see something you want or need, your best to print it right away before it runs out of prints.
Electronic Coupons or E-Coupons – E-Coupons are the newest form of coupons available today. These require no clipping or printing, but instead are loaded directly to your store loyalty cards. There are several sources for e-Coupons, including Cellfire, P&GSaver, Upromise and the newest SavingStar. You can also find e-Coupons on many of the grocery store sites, such as Kroger (Ralphs in Southern California), and Safeway (Vons in Southern California). Electronic coupons do NOT double, regardless of the store’s policy toward paper coupons.
Catalina Coupons – These are coupons that are generated during checkout. You have probably seen the gray square machines at the registers at some of the stores you shop in. They print out long, receipt-like coupons or advertisements at the end of your transaction. Always pay attention to what the cashier hands you at the end of your transaction. These coupons are money! Catalina coupons can be tied to a specific product (i.e. $1/1 Jar Skippy Peanut Butter) or they can be store specific (i.e. $2.00 Off Your Next Shopping Trip, Courtesy of Skippy). The latter can be combined with manufacturer coupons and can be used to purchase almost anything in the store (restrictions may apply to items like alcohol, tobacco, etc.). Catalina Coupons can be advertised offers, or completely random.
Blinkies – These are manufacturers coupons that are dispensed from the small automatic machines that are found in stores on the grocery aisles, etc. The dispensers are usually affixed to the shelves, or attached to the refrigerator/freezer cases, near the product they are advertising. They are referred to as ‘Blinkies’ because they usually have a flashing red light on them that flashes as it dispenses the coupons, one at a time. Since these are manufacturer coupons, you can use them at ANY store, not just the one you found the coupon in.
Tear pads – Tear pads just as they sound… a pad of manufacturer’s coupons found near the product being advertised. These too, are manufacturer coupons, and may be used at any store for the product referenced in the coupon.
Peelies – These are manufacturer coupons that are attached to a product’s packaging. You will need to ‘peel’ the coupon off of the package in order to redeem it. However, you do NOT have to redeem it right away (you may have a better coupon in your binder), or even on the specific product it was attached to. Read the coupon terms and use it as you would any other coupon type. Often times it is best to purchase the smallest size that the coupon allows in order to maximize your savings.
ALL YOU Magazine – They say that this is a must-have magazine for serious couponers, but I still haven’t seen the logic in that statement, as I’m a subscriber and it seems to have a limited number of coupons offered lately. It is published monthly, and each issue is loaded with money-saving coupons. This is magazine more than pays for itself!
Store Coupons – A store coupon is a discount from the STORE or Retailer vs. the manufacturer. Unlike manufacturer coupons, this comes out of the store’s profit. Often these are found in the weekly circulars (i.e. Vons or Walgreen’s.) You may also find store coupons on the store’s website. For example, Target offers several STORE coupons on their site. Manufacturer’s coupons very clearly state ‘manufacturer coupon’ on them. If they are not labeled as a manufacturer coupon, it is almost a guarantee that it’s a Store coupon. We LOVE store coupons! You are allowed to ‘stack’ (use more than 1 coupon on the same item) them with a manufacturer coupon for extreme savings!
Know that you are more aware of the locations, areas, places that you can locate coupons, begin collecting!
[With so much information on the web about Extreme Couponing, I borrowed some of this from various sites and thank each and everyone of you for making it easy to learn how to do extreme couponing. (DISCLAIMER)]