After watching TLC's hit Television show "Extreme Couponing," I was in disbelief that these people were saving that much money with coupons. That's when I decided to do my own research and find out if and how it could be done. The question is no longer an if, as I have already saved hundreds of dollars and have a pretty decent stockpile.
Step 1: Coupons, Coupons, Coupons!
Start off by stocking up on coupons. Buy your local Sunday paper (I buy 4, but beginners may want to start with one). Also, get signed up for P&Gs coupon booklet mailed out quarterly here:
Also, you might want to subscribe to AllYou magazine, or pick one up at your local Wal-mart. This magazine is filled with coupons and pays for itself.
Next, start printing online printable coupons. Most coupons can be printed twice per computer. You will have to install the coupon printer if you have never printed online coupons before. My Printable Coupons tab has the best resources for finding printable coupons online.
Finally, make sure you link up your store card to E-Coupon websites, like SavingStar. These E-Coupons stack with manufacturers coupons, allowing you to save even more!
Step 2: Organizing
Invest in a 3-ring binder (preferably with zip-edges in case it gets dropped). Fill it with transparent collector's card sleeves (cheap at Amazon.com). Make sure you separate the pages into categories with binder dividers and label those dividers by aisle or coupon type. Some people organize by expiration date or alphabetically. Do what works for you.
Step 3: Research
Know your stores coupon policy before planning your shopping trip. Most stores post their coupons policies on their store websites. Print out a copy of the policy to avoid later dispute. Alternatively, you can call the store and ask for a manager to check their coupon policy.
Step 4: Planning
Plan your shopping trip. Start by checking your store's weekly deals, either online or via their flyer. Match up sales with coupons you currently have. Things to remember:
- Most stores allow you to use two coupon on a BOGO sale (buy one get one free). Make sure you check first with your store's policy.
- Some stores double coupons, or even triple them up to a certain amount. These stores typically have higher prices because of this. To make the most of coupon doubling stores, use doublers on items that are on sale and know your product prices. Some people even keep a spreadsheet of prices for the items they buy from different stores.
- Stores like Rite-Aid offer rebates (called +UPs). When you buy certain items, you will get a rebate for an amount off your next purchase. If you plan your trip adequately, you can save a lot by using multiple transactions with UP rewards to pay for your next purchases (UPs can be redeemed immediately after a purchase).
Step 5: Stockpiling
You might notice that your grocery bill isn't going down 90% at first. That's because there are items you need each week and when you first start couponing, you aren't going to have a coupon for everything you buy. This is where stockpiling comes into play. Every time you find a good coupon/sale match up, stock up on that item. Try to get enough of that item to last your household 3 months or longer. Coupons for certain products cycle about every 3-6 months, so by the time you run out of an item, there will be a coupon for it again.
After a few months of stocking up and coupon match-ups, you will notice your grocery bill drop significantly.