Guide to Couponing

Posted by Madison on January 18, 2008

grocery aisle

My New Years Resolution was to stop super couponing. Why? Because I got so into it, I ended up spending way too much time on it. I also got some sort of mental block when I went to the store.

If it wasn’t on sale, super cheap, or free I couldn’t bring myself to buy it! We ended up with a pantry full of hundreds of items we use, but not the right mix of things to put together. That’s what happens when you are a Type A personality… everything to the max!

So last year I decided to get out super couponing. I did pretty good all year. I still use coupons on occasion and I still shop the sales, but I also feel free to buy things that aren’t on sale. And I’m not wasting so much time!

During my super couponing days, I learned a lot. Here’s a guide of the resources I used in order of involvement. Want to stay a casual couponer, stay near the top of the list. Want to go all the way, check out the extra credit at the end!

Super Couponing

Use coupons in the Sunday paper. Look through the ads, cut out the products you use and redeem them. It’s a pretty simple strategy. Buy two papers if you need extra coupons.

Use free coupons from the web. If you don’t have a Sunday paper handy, print free online coupons directly from the web.

Use coupons in conjunction with sales. Get a copy of the weekly flyer for your grocery store and buy items that are on sale and you have a coupon for. If your store offers it redeem the coupons on a “double-coupon day.”

Learn the fluctuations in prices. Keep a price book to determine when a sale item is truly a good buy. After tracking the prices for awhile, you’ll learn to spot a great price without your book.

Stock up on rock-bottom prices. Using your price book, when a product hits it’s lowest price, use all your coupons for that item and stock the pantry. The rule of thumb is to buy about 12 weeks worth, as that is the typical time before the item will hit a rock-bottom price again.

Use a service to tell you what to buy. There’s sites that specialize in putting together lists of the above information for you. They match the sales, coupons, and rock-bottom prices:

Trade or buy coupons. Need more coupons for that terrific sale? Use a coupon trading site or clipping service to purchase multiple quantities of the coupons you need.

Visit forums to discuss good coupon deals. Divided by store, find free items each week and strategies for spending the least amount of money on hot sales.

Photography: grocery aisle by The Consumerist

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Comments to Guide to Couponing

  1. Definitely stop couponing if you’re spending way too much time doing it. It’s probably better that you spend your time managing your credit card arbitage plan (which makes my head spin) over coupons. Savings from coupons pale in comparison to the amount of money you could make with the CC arbitage.


  2. I actually made a resolution this year to start couponing and was surprised by all the coupons I’ve found for everyday items that I buy. We’re talking OJ and toliet paper! I was skeptical at first, thinking it would be a waste of time. However, when I combine coupons with items already on sale, the savings really do start adding up. Thanks for the tip!


  3. I’m a couponaholic and can’t imagine NOT using coupons! You’ve got some great tips posted here. Lots of great information on your blog, so I’ve subscribed to your feed…oh, my feed list is getting so long!


  4. @ Frugal Chick:
    You’re right, minute for minute the payoff for the credit card strategy is huge in comparison to coupons. That’s a great way to look at it…. doesn’t make me feel so bad for leaving money on the table.

    Isn’t it amazing, once you start to look there’s almost a coupon for everything! Keep track of how much you save, it will be fun to look at your savings over time!

    Glad to hear you subscribed! It was hard at first to not use coupons… now I’ve settled into a comfortable medium, I still use them, but I’m not a couponaholic anymore… I’ll live through you though, because if I had the time I still would be!


  5. I am new to super couponing and I love it. Last month I had $80 in coupons! I find if I stay on top of it, it takes little time and reduces the clutter couponing can cause. Thanks for your tips, although I don’t want to become an extremist, I am looking for tips to always keep improving!


  6. I currently live in Las Vegas, NV and if possible will like to team up with someone with coupons. I have lots of coupons since I live alone and don’t use most of the items I know with someone that I team up with it will be much easier and better.


  7. my store no longer will doulble coupons and also would like to know how people get coupons for meat


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