Great! You clicked the page so that means you are at least interested in saving … or finding out more about it!
Using coupons to save money at the store is a great way to alleviate your family’s budget and to feel like you are in control of your spending. And, best of all – it can be fun! In fact, we think it is a total rush…walking out with an item or a bag full of items (or bags & bags) that you paid little for (or better yet scored for free) is a great feeling.
How do you start? We’d like to suggest some tips as you dip your toes into the world of using coupons!
Change the way you think about coupons. Now.
- Coupons have been around forever, and if you are like most people you pass them by without giving them much thought. Stop. Coupons are like money. Seriously. (It still amazes us when we leave a store having saved money with coupons! For years we were like most people and just threw away the coupon inserts. Can you believe it? Think of all that money we spent, needlessly. We guarantee you will feel that same way once you try couponing. It’s a rush.).
- Stop clipping just what you think you will use! This is a huge mistake, because it narrows the range of products you can score savings on. For example, if XYZ toothpaste goes on sale for $1, but you did not cut out the $1 coupon for XYZ toothpaste last week because you always buy ABC toothpaste, then guess what—you just missed out on free toothpaste! Keep in mind also that even if you don’t intend to use a particular item, you can always give it away or donate it. Sharing free items is a big part of the fun for the The Clever Couple.
- Brand loyalty be banished! This relates back to the tip above, but in other words, don’t be afraid to try new items. Some of the best coupons are put out by companies when they have a new product hitting the market. Expand your brands and you’ll reap the benefits by saving big with coupons! And who knows, you may just discover your new favorite something! (That is how we discovered Chex Mix…but don’t get us started!).
How do you get your hands on these magical coupons?
- Literally, coupons are all over! Once you start (become addicted) to using them, you will notice them in places you never would have thought of.
- Newspapers: every Sunday there are coupon inserts in the paper that are put out by various publishers. The most well known coupon inserts are Smart Source, Red Plum, Proctor & Gamble and some others depending on where you live. We’ve noticed that the “big city” newspapers have larger coupon inserts (more coupons) than our city newspaper. Some weeks it is literally double the amount; so, we buy the big city paper on Sunday. (buy multiple copies of the paper on Sunday, if you want more coupons).
- Family & friends: 90% of the people that receive coupons in the paper throw them away or recycle them. Ask your friends, family, co-workers, church members, anyone you can think of to save you the Sunday coupon inserts. We’ve had great luck just by asking. (And once you are a thrifty coupon user, you’ll be scoring free stuff left and right. Think of how kind it would be to give the people that supply you with these coupons a treat now and then. You will make them smile, and it will let them know you really appreciate their help.)
- Printable coupons are available on-line at various sites. You can find many printable coupons by signing up with the Coupons.com for their email alerts. You can also click here to print coupons online.
- Social Media is a great place for coupons! Brands are joining Facebook by the mobs and to get you to “like’ their business pages you are often enticed with a money saving coupon. Some companies even have pages for different products, which is even better! Watch for alerts from The Clever Couple for the hottest Facebook offers we see. Once you are a member of the company’s Facebook Family, you will see posts on their new offers which also often include printable coupons and/or free samples.
- Magazines often feature coupons; one of the best magazines out there offering money saving coupons is called All You. A subscription to All You Magazine will pay for itself quickly as you enjoy the over $100 in coupons each month. You can buy the magazine at Walmart too, but it is much less expensive to subscribe to All You.
- On products in the store you will often find hanging coupons or small folded coupons attached to the item that you peel off and use at the time of purchase. (These are called peelies, and you can find out more about them here).
- In the store’s weekly flyer
- Inside the store look for small machines attached to the aisle shelves that produce coupons. Also look for mounted pads of tear off coupons near a particular item in the store. Even if you are not going to buy the product that day, take some coupons so you have them for future use when the item goes on sale.
- When you check out, often you are printed a coupon good for your next purchase on a particular brand or variety of product (called a Catalina coupon) with your receipt. Save that! It is like cash!
Be organized, it makes using coupons much quicker, easier and more fun
- At first, you may feel like a fish out of water as you try and keep your coupons organized and easily accessible. This is normal, and do not get discouraged. The more you use your coupons, the easier it will become. Believe it or not, you’ll get to the point of being able to know (with pretty good certainty) if you have a coupon or not for a particular product without checking. It becomes second nature.
- There are many ways to organize your coupons and you have to find the best method that works for you. The most important thing is to sort them so you can easily locate them. Most people divide them by categories, and you can click here to see the categories the The Clever Couple uses. Some of the most popular storage methods are:
- White envelopes, labeled with different categorie
- An expandable file (from the dollar store or an office supply store), labeled with categories.
- A storage box, similar in size to a shoe box, with dividers marked with different categories.
- A large binder with clear plastic inserts (baseball card dividers work perfectly) for holding the coupons and page dividers marked with the categories. If you are going to try this method, buy a quality binder so it does not fall apart quickly.
Before you hit the store with your coupons
- Go online to the store’s website and check out the store’s ad, or if it came in your daily newspaper, review it.
- Check the coupons you have and match them up to the items that are on sale, to take the most advantage of the coupon savings. Many online sites will do coupon match ups for you, detailing what coupons to use at what stores during the week that mean extra savings when combined with their advertised specials. The Clever Couple will also post matchup for various stores.
- Make a list. This will eliminate spur of the minute spending and help you to stay on track with your coupon shopping.
- Find out about the store’s rain-check policy and senior or military discount program, if applicable to your situation. If a store is sold out of an item, they will sometimes write you a rain check so you can take advantage of the sale price when the item comes back in stock.
- Know the store’s coupon policy, if available, and keep a copy with you. You can find these policies on the store’s website, or at our policy page here.
- When you make your list, note the quantity and size of the items you need or want to purchase. This makes it easier for you when you arrive to the store, allowing you to match your coupons to the items and maximize your savings. Pay attention to the coupons expiration dates and the sizes stipulated. Some coupons will say “off any” _____. Some coupons will detail a size you have to buy in order to use the coupon. Realize that if you are shopping at a store that doubles coupons, if your manufacturer coupon says “Do Not Double”, the store will not double it. (Do you know what “doubling” is? Check out our Coupon Talk page for an explanation).
- Carry a calculator or load a calculator app to your phone; it is much quicker to use a calculator to figure a “good deal” you may stumble upon.
Some important tips from The Clever Couple:
- When you are in the store, always check the clearance section. Store’s make markdowns on products daily, and if you are lucky enough to stumble upon a markdown and you have a matching coupon, you can score some really cheap or free items.
- Check the sizes of an item you have a coupon for. Some coupons are even good on trail or travel sizes, so you can score free items with your coupon easier this way.
- Coupon overage can be a huge bonus to your shopping plan of attack. Find out more about coupon overage in our Coupon Talk page.
- Savour your savings! Even if you only use 1 coupon on a shopping trip, it is money saved. It all adds up little by little and you can keep it fun and exciting! Celebrate your savings!
- When clipping coupons, ask yourself
- Will I use this item, even if it is free?
- Can I give this item to someone I know, if it is free?
- Can I donate this item to a person or charity?
If you answer no to all 3 of these points, you could skip clipping the coupon. We clip every coupon!