Frugal Lifestyle Guide 1

Couponing Like A Pro

With the rise of the TV show dedicated to couponing it’s clear that when it comes to being thrifty people are going back to the ways of clipping and getting money off. Coupons really are like free money if you’re smart about how you use them. Many people don’t realize they can request coupons, double, and even use competitor coupons all in store. If you’re out shopping practically anywhere it’s worth having a quick check on your phone to see if there’s a valid one but that isn’t near the commitment that extreme couponing requires.

For the savvy, extreme couponing can often turn into getting paid to shop.

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Step 1: Get some Coupons

Coupons are extremely easy to find. Sunday papers, store fliers, and a lot of the junk mail that comes right to your door is stuffed with them. On top of this you can go to websites like where you can browse and print as many as you like. One thing to remember is that most coupon websites have cookies which track how many coupons you’re printing and it means you can usually only print two so it’s a good idea to save a digital copy as well then you can print it multiple times.

You can also apply to companies directly. Many big name organizations will send you coupons on request or if you send them an SAE. Writing about how you love or hate a product is an easy way to do so. If you’ve bought something and it hasn’t performed then send them a note about it. There’s a big likelihood that will get you a coupon but try not to over use this.

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Step 2: Get Organized

There’s nothing worse than planning your strategic shop and then realizing your coupons are at home or expired. Buy yourself a binder or organizer that will fit your coupons and allow you to organize them in a way you can keep track of them. Organizing by expiry is a good idea and if you have more than one coupon for the same item be sure to put the ones expiring first at the front. You may also choose to organize them by store area or categories like beauty, deli etc.

Step 3: Read Policies

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Everyone knows there is a thing called “store policy” but almost no one ever bothers to read it. Every store has a policy when it comes to coupons. Kroger, for example, in some areas will not double coupons while in others it will. Most stores have a limit on how many similar coupons they will take per transaction, and others will not allow coupons from competitors. Walmart allows unlimited numbers of coupons no matter where you shop. Make sure you know these policies for your area and don’t assume just because someone said it works online that you’ll be able to do it where you are. Don’t frustrate other people by being that guy in line arguing a coupon that doesn’t work for store policy.

Step 4: Look at Your Coupons

Every coupon has a terms and conditions on it somewhere. This is part of what’s called stacking. Stacking several coupons together for the same item lowers the cost even further, often making it free or resulting in money back. Stacking uses one coupon from the store and one from the manufacturer, it cannot be two coupons that come from either or unless they allow doubling. Many stores will stack up to a certain amount and as long as it doesn’t say “cannot be doubled” you can use two of the same coupons for that item – getting twice the discount.

Step 5: Plan with Sales

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There’s a certain amount of planning that goes into couponing. You want to buy when the item is at it’s cheapest which means monitoring store ads and looking for sales rather than wasting the coupon on a full price item that will cost the same without the coupon next week. For example, if you have a coupon for $1 off shrimp that is usually $7.99 and you use it at full price you’ll pay $6.99. But if you wait until that shrimp is on sale for $5 then you’ll only pay $4 for the same pack.

Don’t be afraid to buy items that you won’t personally use if they are an especially good deal. You’ll often see people offloading toiletries and laundry items on yardsale pages because these are the easiest to coupon and end up with money back or an extreme discount. If you’re not going to use them yourself then sell them on and make a profit.

Read the grocery ads from your local paper, read the specials pages, and see which store is offering the things you have coupons for the cheapest so you can find the best deals. Then start making your list. It may also be worth noting on your list which coupons are for what item and how many just so you can be organized at the check out. I always pull the coupons from my organizer that I’m going to use as I shop so I know I have the item, the coupon and then check it off my list. When I check out I already have the coupons for the exact items I have waiting which helps stop people behind being frustrated.


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