Couponing is the best game that I know and I am aware that many people are just jumping in. It can be tough to start a brand new hobby, so let me give you 15 tips for new couponers to get you going:
- There are items that you can always get for free if you time them right. CVS, Walgreens and other stores will offer you free toothpaste, toothbrushes or other items every few months. This is usually a good faith offer to get you into the store and often in conjunction with a coupon. Keep your eyes peeled for these freebies and check my Store Deals category for a head’s up the week before.
- Buy multiple newspapers for the coupon inserts each Sunday. I usually shop at Dollar Tree where you can get a Sunday paper for $1. Try to get to the store early in the day (so that there are still papers available) and be sure to check your newspaper before purchasing to make sure that the coupon inserts are in there.
- You can print two coupons per computer or device (in most cases). Printable coupons are a huge resource for savings, so making the most of your devices is a necessity.
- You cannot make photocopies of coupons. This is coupon fraud and there are penalties for doing so. Read more about that here.
- Coupons that say “Redeemable at…” are typically valid to use at all stores. There are some stores that will not accept a coupon with another store logo (CVS, Jewel-Osco, Dollar Tree), but if it says “Redeemable at” rather than “Reddemable ONLY at,” it is a valid manufacturer’s coupon and can be used at most stores. You can read the “Redeemable at” as a suggestion rather than an insistence.
- Coupons tend to run in cycles. When coupons are released, you will see the same batches over and over. For example, when the old Colgate and Huggies coupons expire, we typically get new Colgate and Huggies coupons within a week or two. You WILL get more coupons in many cases, so don’t be in a hurry to use the ones expiring!
- Store circulars often run in conjunction with coupons – both in obvious ways and less obvious ways. Stores and brands work together when it come to coupons. You will see coupons announced in the CVS and Walgreens ad to give you incentive to buy products AND use the coupons. That said, there are many cases when a sale won’t occur until the week before the coupon expires! The brand/stores assume that most people no longer have those coupons, so only the lucky few who have kept them will get the best deal. Don’t get rid of coupons coupons until after they expire! (And here is what you can do with them when they do expire.)
- Try not to be brand specific. We all have brands that we prefer to to taste or efficiency (Jif instead of Skippy or vice versa), but if you don’t mind whether you have Colgate or Crest toothpaste, you’ll be able to maximize your savings by buying toothpaste at the best price.
- Have good items to organize your coupons. It is important to have a coupon organizer to keep your clipped coupons in and you may want to have a file organizer for keeping your full coupon inserts safe and organized. It is easiest not to clip your coupons out of the inserts until you intend to use them. Use my Coupon Database to locate the coupons in your inserts when you need them!
- Don’t try to do every deal. Only do the deals that will benefit your household. If you try to do EVERY deal, you’ll end up spending more money than you save!
- When you see a printable coupon that you want, print it right away. The printables disappear quickly – sometimes within hours!
- Try to buy enough product to last until the next great sale. I recommend buying enough product to enable you to not shop for that product for three months. If you have a family of four and you can get toothpaste for free, pick up four boxes to allow you to watch for the next sale. Chances are you’ll see it on sale for free (or under $.50 per tube) before that three months is over.
- Try not to buy items just because you have a coupon. Your best deals will always be a coupon stacked with a sale and/or a store reward or gift card. If you don’t absolutely need the product, you’re better off recycling the coupon (after expiration) than you are using it on an item when it’s not on sale.
- Be courteous. If you want to stock up but have separate transactions, politely ask your cashier if you can do your transactions separately. If there is a long line behind you, I recommend doing a single transaction and going to the end of the line for the next transaction. If you plan to come back to any particular store, it is always best to be known as the shopper who makes the cashier’s life easier, not more difficult.
- There is always another deal! If you can’t go shopping this week, no worries! There is ALWAYS another deal. Couponing is a game, so just keep playing!
Ready to start playing? Find many more Couponing Tips here!