Extreme couponing can save you a lot of money, probably in thousands, on purchasing necessities that you need every month, such as groceries. You must have seen and heard people featuring in TV shows who use at least 100 coupons every time they go for shopping and walk out with plenty of basic stuff, like dog food, detergents, toothpaste, floor wash, diapers etc. If you think these people are lucky, then you could be one of them. You just need a few things and a place in your home or basement to start couponing. And, the good news is anyone can actually learn how to start couponing. It doesn’t require qualification or major skills. If you do it right, you can easily buy most of the things from your monthly shopping list at just $ 1 or 2.
This is a quick guide that talks about starting couponing easily.
How Do Store Coupons Work
Coupons are not uncommon anymore. You get online coupons and hard coupons. They are just like free cash that can be used to buy or avail discounts. The working is very simple. You cut out coupons out of newspapers and magazines, take them to the grocery store, and buy products against them. You also get coupons that offer exclusive discounts. Some stores even double a coupon value. In a month, grocery stores collect millions of coupons.
And since it is a waste of paper and nothing but garbage, most groceries mail the coupons to the manufacturers so that they can use them to reprocess. In return, the manufacturer reimburses the amount of the invoice, up to 8 cents per coupon.
This is a simple, yet meticulous and time-consuming process. Nonetheless, since people are highly benefited, couponing is quite popular across the world.
Step 1: What Do You Need to Begin the Process
First, you have to gather the supplies that will help you become an extreme-couponer. Few tools that you need are:
- Local newspapers (especially that come on Sundays)
- Mail subscriptions with coupons
- Printer to print the coupons
- A pair of scissors
- Store flyers of your choice
- A computer or laptop and
- One or two plastic binders with label/divider
Of course, you may not need all these things as a beginner. You have to see first if you like the work and then invest in computer and cabinets.
Step 2: Define Your Couponing Goal
You have to decide your goal next, as in, what do you want to accomplish with extreme couponing? Everything starts with a plan and a determination, even as simple as couponing. Many people coupon for the following reasons:
- Save money at the grocery store
- Stock pantry in half price
- Reduce grocery budget
- Buy things for the homeless or
- Save the coupons and distribute among the underprivileged
Step 3: Set Few Hours Aside
As we said, it is a simple yet time-consuming process.So, time is the most important factor that determines the success of this process. You can make couponing a part-time, casual affair or a full-on task. Either way, you need to set a few hours aside for it. Many extreme couponers dedicate up to 30 hours a week for coupon cutting, strategizing and shopping.
You don’t have to be that involved or crazy, however. As a beginner, plan on investing a couple of hours a week, probably on Sunday or Monday when Sunday newspaper arrives. Make sure, you buy one newspaper per member of your family. Once this is done, you need to strategize your time. This could be a great part-time activity for school and college goers. But if you are an office goer, you won’t be able to spend hours together for collecting and organizing coupons.
Make your first few shopping goals conservative and try to reach them. Adjust your time when you set new goals. You can spend one to two hours per week and save about $25 to $50 weekly. Just make sure, your concentration does not wander and you stay focused on the work.
Step 4: Search for Coupons
There are several places where you can find coupons. It also depends upon the place you live. However, you have to implement quite a few strategies to gather them in multiples. Networking is one of the ways that can help you get multiples of the same coupon. In the beginning, you may not save much. However, with a planned strategy you can slowly raise the bar of the game. Make sure you choose and multiply only those coupons that offer discounts on the products you actually use.
Apart from local newspapers, you can find coupons in-store bulletin boards, hypermarket coupon walls, store flyers, coupon apps, and coupon websites.
Sign up for as many local newspapers as you can. Make sure your family members do the same as well. Before you start shopping in a store, check the store’s bulletin board for coupons. There are several coupon apps(CartSmart and Snap)in the market now. Download quite a few in your phone. Use coupon websites. Checkout51 (both app and site), CouponSurfer, Groupon Coupons, Coupons.com, Savings.com are some of the popular coupon sites for US citizens. Look up Google for your state-specific websites for coupons.
Step 5: Learn How to Multiply Coupons
You can be successful with just a few multiplies of your chosen coupons. However, you need to develop strategies to gather the coupons in multiplications. We have listed a few strategies that worked on others:
Get More than One Copy of Sunday Newspaper
You don’t have to subscribe to all newspapers for all the days of the week. Keep one regular newspaper and sign-up the rest for Sunday-only subscription. Buy newspaper for each family member. Sometimes, Wednesday’s newspapers include the weekly sales flyers. You can either subscribe for it or buy the paper from a local convenience store.
Connect with your Friends and Neighbours
They can be a great help when it comes to multiplying the coupons. You can start gathering coupons from your friends, colleagues, neighbors, and relatives whom you meet on a regular basis. Most of us tend to throw them away. If that is the case with your network group, request them to save the coupons for you so that you can collect them in bulk. Make sure you reward them for their efforts. You can send some free stuff that you got using their savings, as a token of gratitude.
Build a Relationship with the People at Your Store
If you shop frequently from a particular store or local market, you will become friendly with their staffs over a period of time. Use that to your advantage. You can request them to let you have the inserts from unpurchased Sunday newspapers. You can let the store management know that you are interested in having the coupons if they are available. However, make sure you build a good rapport with the employees at the store. Only then, you will be able to ask them without any qualms. If someone’s already getting from them, it is a good idea to remind them every six months that you are in line too.
Look for Manufacturers’ Coupons
If you know where to look for them, many stores strategically place manufacturers’ coupons around their aisle for customers. Once you find them, grab as many as you can at a time. Pay attention to the expiry date. Get the coupons that have longer expiration dates. It is not required for you to purchase the goods right away. If some of them are not available presently, you can use the coupons in the future. Some of the places where you may find manufacturer’s coupons in a store are:
- Blinkie coupons are usually located in the store aisles. They are found inside plastic boxes with blinking lights on them.
- Peelies can be peeled off from product packaging and use them immediately for discounts. Some peelies are meant for the future or are applicable on a combination of product purchase. Make sure you read the content on the Peelie coupons and then plan accordingly.
- Tear pads are thick pads of coupons often found fixed to store shelves. You can tear off as many as you want and use them.
- Coupon booklets are similar to monthly subscriptions. They are often found near the checkout counters. They are given out right before and during holidays. You can pick one for each of your family members. You may have to pay a few dollars to get hold of exclusive booklets.
Get Printable Online Coupons
Look up the grocery store and manufacturer’s websites. You will find coupons shared on their pages. You can print the coupons on your installed printer. Some software help computer tracks the number of coupons you can print. So, make sure you install a good software for printing coupons. If not here, go directly to your favorite brand’s website and social media pages. Most of them run some kind of reward program or promotional offer for their customers every month. They include printable coupons for redemption.
However, unlike store coupons, websites and social media pages allow only two prints of each coupon for a person at a time. If you wish to print many, you should either use different computers and different browsers to avoid problems. The coupons may vary in price each month. So, the expiration date may not be long, unless it is the same coupon.
Sign Up for Loyalty Programs
Loyalty programs are the latest way to shop more and avail great discounts on purchase. Many grocery stores have loyalty programs. You can load e-coupons in your loyalty card to automatically apply discount amount while checkout. Walmart, Grofers, BigBasket have loyalty apps for Android and iOS devices. Likewise, other stores will also have. The apps alert users when there is a bumper or weekly sale and when there is buy 1 get 1 offer, compare rates with other retailers, and even give gift voucher or freebies for VIP customers.
And,finally, you can trade coupons that you may not require for the ones you want with individuals who are also interested in couponing.
Step 6: Get Yourself Organized
We suggest not to try couponing haphazardly. If you are organized enough, getting through it will be easy, every time. Make sure your approach is concise to reduce time and effort. So, you should start organizing them in binders and folders. Here are a few ways you could do:
- Use Coupons that Expires in a Week. Keep them in a separate This is the simplest way of couponing. Find a coupon and use it during check out.
- Matchup Coupons According to Sale. For instance, you have a coupon for $.40 off on 1 KG detergent. And the product usually goes for sale (3 KGs for $ 10) every month. You can combine the coupon with a sale and buy3 KGs of detergent for $9.60 (actual price $4 per kg) instead of $10. And, if you have two of these coupons, you will be able to save more.
- Arrange More Coupons: You can stack multiple types of coupons with match-up coupons. For instance, some stores provide a coupon with the receipt as printed or as tear-offs. You can combine this coupon with a manufacturer and a store coupon to save more on the purchase.
- Try As Many Combinations As Possible: This is what extreme couponing is all about. Try various combinations to gain maximum advantage. Instead of one or two, try more combination. There are several types of coupons that can be combined, like Store Coupons, Manufacturer Coupons, Double Coupons, Bumper Sales at Stores (Buy 3 get 1 free or three for $10) and $ # off on Future Purchase Coupon along with receipt (Catalina).
You need patience. That’s all. Don’t give up on your coupons soon. You may not get $500 off in your first purchase and you may not save much on freshly produced goods. So, don’t get disheartened. Combine apps, coupons, discounts, and sales to get best deals on products and brands. If you have a unique strategy for couponing, do share with us in the comments below.