I recently had a freind ask me to help her get started couponing, so I thought I would write my favorite 10 tips for beginning (or any) couponer.
1. Know the Policy - Nearly every store has their coupon policy online. If you are in doubt, check it out. Homeland, where I do most of my grocery shopping, doubles coupons up to and including $1. However, they one double ONE of each identical coupon. No stocking up on 30 jars of $.25 peanut butter at this store.
2. Smaller is Usually Better - Remember to think price per ounce. The smallest product your coupon allows is ually your best value.
3. Stack When you Can! - When I started seriously couponing, this was my biggest surprise. Many stores, including Target, Babies R Us and others let you use a manufacturer coupon AND a store coupon at the same time for the same item. This can equal some serious savings!
4. Use Online Resources - Couponing is work, but take advatanage of the many online resources to make it easier! I use the Homeland forum at A Full Cup for my weekly grocery coupon matchups. Other sites, like Hot Coupon World, and I Heart WAGS can give you previews of what's to come at your local stores as well as coupon matchups.
5. Keep your Eyes Peeled for Coupons - Coupons are everywhere! Look for tearpads and peelie stickers while shopping. Check out magazines and mailers besides just your Sunday newpaper.
6. Don't get Discouraged - You WILL make mistakes. I still do! However, the benefit of using coupons, should out weigh the few screw ups we all make. So, when you try to use a coupon that is expired, or only grab one item when the coupon state you ahve to buy two, don't throw in the towel.
7. Stand up for Yourself - Sadly, after you have couponed for a little while, you probably know more about the store's coupon policies than most checkers working there. If you think are wrongly being denied use of your coupons, question it, or ask to see the manager.
8. Stock Plie on the Things you Need, Think Twice about the Things you Don't - Free is free. When you can get something for free, money maker (yeah!) or close to free with a coupon, and your family uses the item, buy it up! Remember in many states you ARE paying tax on items, so free is in totally free. Pay attention to expiration dates on food, as you don't want anything to go bad. I donate food items that I get for free and my family does not eat to the homeless shelter. Excess health and beauty itmes often get donated, given to family members and sold in our yearly garage sale.
9. Prepare before you Shop - When I do weekly grocery shopping (especially if I have kids in tow) I try have my coupons matched with the sale ad and organized in a seperate envelope by store isle BEFORE I hit the store. Preparations is also important if you are matching up store coupons and manufacturer coupons to use together.
10. Go Easy on the Ink - When I started printing online coupons, I went crazy and printed everything under the sun. I soon realized this was costing as much in ink as I was saving. Online coupons are great, and often high value, but save the ink for the ines you think you will really use.
What's your favorite couponing tip?