I grew up in the Philippines where couponing is not a big thing. As I came here to US, I learned that couponing is one of the best ways not only to save money, but also, to earn! Couponing is not hard but it’s a bit tricky sometimes. It depends on the store policies, coupon fine prints, and your location. I am currently residing in Virginia USA so there are a lot of strict limitations when it comes to couponing, but it is only a matter of timing and perseverance to get to know the guiles of couponing and clearance hunting here.
What are the stores near you?
First, you need to know what stores in your area accepts coupons. Here in Virginia, we have Target, WalMart, Dollar Tree, Dollar General, Harris Teeter, FarmFresh, Food Lion, Walgreens, RitaAid, CVS and Kroger. Store loyalty is good and all, but it will not help you with your couponing. You must be willing to venture on other stores with better sale prices and deals to maximize your savings.
Apply for their weekly subscription of ads and it is better if you get or apply for store loyalty cards as well. Which brings us to our next tip.
Make use of their Loyalty Cards and Store Applications
Most of the stores only offer sale prices and deals with costumers with loyalty cards. Together with their loyalty cards, some stores also have store apps which also have coupons some of which are store coupons that can be stacked with manufacturer coupons. That’s why it is very important to be aware of sales and weekly deals.
Personally, me and my husband have our own cards to maximize our savings, because some offers or store coupons loaded in the card can only be used ones. This gives us a better chance to stock up on sales and deals.
Know Where and How to get Coupons
If you’re asking where to get coupons, there are some ways to acquire them. One way is to get them from Sunday papers. If you have subscriptions you already know this, if you don’t, you can get one from stores such as dollar tree. Ask your neighbors and relatives if they get newspapers but don’t use the coupons, they will be more than happy to give it to you. You can also print some coupons from websites such as coupon.com and retailmenot.com. Instore, there are also available coupons such as peelies (coupons that are stuck to the actual product), tearpads (Pads of coupons typically found on special displays at the store, tear off one or two or three), blinkies (some stores have machines that gives out coupons), and hangtags (coupons that are usually hanging on the neck of the bottled products).
How to Organize your Coupons
To make things a little easier, it is very important to organize your coupons. There are several ways to organize your coupons. One way is file by insert (coupon booklet). With this method, you can just your inserts by date and put them in a box or binder and use an online coupon data base to find the coupons you need and clip it only if you’re about to use. This method is the least laborious, but the downside of it, you might miss out on unadvertised deals if you don’t have your coupon with you during store trips. Another is clipping out coupons and organizing it in envelopes or binders. After cutting all coupons, you can organize it by category, by date, or alphabetically. It depends on what works for you. I usually do it by category or use, it is much easier for me.
Be aware of Sales and Deals
This comes in handy to be able to time your trip to the grocery store and to make sure that you don’t miss any of the GOOD deals. It also helps you plan and organize your coupons before leaving the house. It is good that you can save money by using coupons but isn’t it better if you can pay way less or get it for free. First tip for planning is read the weekly store ads. Check what is on sale and compare which store has the least price on the items that you need and check if you have coupons that you can use for these items. If you don’t get weekly ads delivered to your door, you can always check the store websites. Second tip is making a list. List down all the items that you will be getting, and which coupon is the best match for it. It is better to already put the coupons that you will be using in a separate envelope. If most of the items that you need is at one store but there are some items that have a lower price from another store, you can price match. This means that if a diaper for example is cheaper at Target, you can take the ad to Walmart and at checkout tell the cashier that you would like to price match the diapers. Show them the ad and they will sell you the diapers same price as what is in the Target Ad. During your trips, no matter how much you plan, we can’t avoid that the items you need is not available. During this time, you can ask for a raincheck. Go to customer service and ask for a raincheck for the item you wanted. They will fill out a piece of paper with the item details and price. Then you can come back another day (usually no more than 30 days) and buy that item at the sale price by giving the cashier the raincheck. This also gives you more time to gather coupons for the item! You can still use a coupon if you are using a raincheck.
Build your Stockpile
Be sure to start slowly. Don’t buy a ton that will ruin your budget, especially if it’s not free. It takes time to build your stockpile, but rest assured, with patience and perseverance, you will get there. Another tip is, buy for the future. Some good coupons are seasonal. Meaning, not all the time you get them from inserts. So, if this is the case for the items that you usually use, buy several of them so you have stocks for the future most especially if you can get them for great prices or FREE.
Every couponer will go overboard at some point. In this case, if there is no way that you will use the items you bought before it expires, consider donating them to shelters or food pantry. You can also give and share some to neighbors and relatives. I do a lot of couponing so I can share and send some goods to my family and friends in the Philippines.