10 More Tips for Extreme CouponingHeather Sokol
If you’re just getting started with coupons, check out our tips for beginner couponing. It’s a great way to shave a lot of money off your grocery bill each week I’m not talking about $.50 here or a quarter there — extreme coupon shoppers rack up serious savings!
It truly is possible to get your groceries so deeply discounted (especially if your store doubles or triples coupon values) that some of them are free. Once you have begun to learn the art of couponing, it’s time to move on to something more extreme.
Here are 10 more tips for even greater coupon savings:
- Clip more coupons. To really stock up on groceries, you’re going to need more than one of each coupon. I buy three newspapers every Sunday, but extremely frugal people may check dumpsters, collect coupon inserts from friends & family, and even utilize coupon clipping services. Whatever you do, be sure to consider how much you are spending on coupon access as part of the budget.
- Upgrade your storage. Now that you’re really clipping coupons, that tiny envelope just isn’t big enough. You’ll need a larger coupon storage system — I’ve used baby wipe containers, photo boxes and binders. Many serious couponers prefer a coupon binder — and this couponer loves her Coupon Clutch! It’s stylish, fun to carry and has sturdy pockets in a variety of sizes for storing lots of coupons.
- Size matters. Let’s talk coupon math for a bit. You probably know about unit pricing, to be sure you’re really comparing the value of different sizes. However, that value changes when coupons come into play. Sure, the large size is has a better unit price than the smaller one. But, what happens when you take a $1 coupon off of those prices? Often times, the smaller packages come out to be a better value. (Hint: check the trial section when your coupon has no size restrictions for free travel goodies.)
- Stack coupons. Once you have a handle on the coupon basics, it’s time to really get serious. Did you know you can use store coupons and manufacturer’s coupons at the same time? Most stores will allow one of each coupon per item for even greater savings — especially when you continue to wait for the sale price.
- Take advantage of bonus buys. As you’re watching the store ads, pay attention to specials like “Save $5 with the purchase of 10 items” or “Free milk when you buy 3 boxes of cereal,” then be sure to buy the right sizes & quantities to get all the deals available.
- Learn the sale cycles. Start paying attention to how often your favorites are on sale and what prices are the best value. Whether you build a formal price book (watch this price book tutorial video) or just have an idea in your head of how much you’re willing to pay, learning the sales cycles will allow you to really take advantage of the right deals.
- Check the clearance. There’s a misconception that grocery store clearance is all dented cans & expired food. The truth is, it’s overstock, just like any other store. You’ll find items nearing their expiration in the bakery & meat department, but even that is no big deal if you plan to use it or freeze it right away. Use a coupon a clearance item to score some serious deals. I was so excited to find this Udi’s hamburger or hot dog buns coupon — I find them with bakery markdowns each week to freeze for when I need them!
- Look for rainchecks and substitutions. When a store runs out of an item, they may offer a raincheck or substitution. Sometimes? It’s better than the original deal. Last week, my store had a special $5 off when you buy 10 items, but they ran out of the brand name green beans. They substituted their brand — at less than half the price — and still took the $5 off. You may also be able to get a raincheck to save for when you have more coupons (or a better one!).
- Know your store. In our tips for beginner couponing, I mentioned how important it is to learn the store coupon policies, but there’s more to it than that. To maximize your savings, it will be important to learn as much as you can about your store. When do they change the sale items? Where do they keep clearance items? Can you get a raincheck or substitution on out of stock items?
- Shop multiple stores. No, you don’t have to waste your time driving from store to store, but get out of your comfort zone a bit. Don’t be afraid to switch to another grocery store, if it will mean greater savings. Typically, I shop twice per week to keep our fresh foods well stocked. That makes it easy to shop two different sales. Maybe you have one grocery store near work or the gym and another near home. Be prepared to to shop while you’re there!
Yes, extreme couponing can be quite a bit of work, but if you learn the system and stay organized, it’s well worth the savings. I can’t wait to hear how much you save!
Photo Credit: Flickr