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Research indicates that 90% of consumers use coupons in some way.
But there’s a big difference between clipping out a few coupons from the Sunday paper and using a combination of coupons, special offers, and smart shopping to achieve consistent savings of 60 to 80% on all your groceries.
If you fall into the first category, you’re most likely wondering how to use coupons for these kinds of big savings every time. The truth is, it does take a level of commitment to hunt down the best deals. But once you start seeing how fast the savings can add up, there’ll be no stopping you!
Want to know how to use coupons as a beginner?
Keep reading to learn the key lessons of couponing 101
1. Gather Coupons Wherever You Can
Before we get into the best tips for using coupons, you’ll need to gather up a good supply. But where can you find these coupons? Well, pretty much everywhere!
If you’re serious about saving, start by searching online for a retailer’s name and the word ‘coupon’. This will point you in the direction of websites and apps dedicated to sharing everything from cashback deals to Amazon coupons.
Widen your shopping net to include all available retailers in your area rather than sticking to your favorite or regular grocery stores. With this in mind, save all the store ads and flyers that come in the mail each week, download store apps, and subscribe to store newsletters. You should also sign up for reward cards to access savings points, discounts, and extra coupons.
2. Organize Your Coupons
When you’re first starting out in the world of couponing, the idea of having to organize your coupons in a binder might seem laughable. But the importance of filing and labeling your coupons will become clear once they start to pile up.
One of our top tips for using coupons is to store them in baseball trading card pages for clear and easy access to the best deals. You can then sort these pages into alphabetical order by product, such as ‘D’ for detergent and ‘C’ for cookies.
You’ll also need to order your coupons by expiration dates. Go through your binder on a regular basis to rotate coupons, take out any that have expired, and move soon-to-expire coupons to your purse or wallet for upcoming shopping trips.
3. Optimize Savings with Double Deals
Often, the saving benefits of using coupons on full-priced products aren’t enough to justify the purchase. Ideally, you’ll want to try to only use coupons on products that are also on special offer for double deals and huge savings.
Let’s take a look at what we mean. A coupon for a dollar off a $5 box of cereal might sound good, but you’re still paying $4 for that box. This means you’re only saving 20% on the original full price.
But wait until the product is on offer and you could optimize your savings with a double deal. For example, if the store has a two for one promotion on that same $5 box of cereal, your dollar off coupon now takes the price of each box down to $2, saving you 60% off the original price.
You can also achieve double deals by combining a store coupon and a product coupon together if the coupons don’t exclude this practice. For example, you could combine a $2 Walmart discount on Jif peanut butter and a $2 Jif discount to get the price down of a $5 jar down to just a dollar!
4. Shop Small and Cherry-Pick the Best Offers
Aside from the great deals, another of the benefits of using coupons is that you end up shopping smarter by shopping smaller and faster.
Small shopping sprees allow you to make the most of your coupons since you’ll only ever buy items on special offer and absolute essentials. More regular shopping trips to different stores also means that you’ll benefit from a greater range of deals. Most stores alternate their special offers, so it’s likely that the products you always buy will be on special offer somewhere at any given time.
As for shopping faster, make it your aim to get the deals then get out. This will ensure that you’re not in the store long enough to fall prey to marketing ploys and waste money on impulse buys.
Before you head to the store, have a clear plan of what you’re going to buy. This means cherry-picking the best deals, optimizing your coupons, and limiting any other purchases. With this kind of clear focus and an estimated spending target, you’ll be more likely to make the best use of your coupons every time.
5. Apply General Discounts to Stockpile Items
As anyone who has mastered the art of using coupons knows, the most valuable coupons are always those with money off stockpile items with no expiration date such as shampoo, toothpaste, and dish soap.
However, since stores and manufacturers know that shoppers like to load up on these items whenever they’re on special offer, these kinds of coupons can be hard to come by. This is why it pays to use general money-off discounts, such as $10 off your total spend, to stock up on these kinds of essentials.
The same goes for spending your overage. Overage is the term for when your coupons exceed the price of an item, making it even better than free. While most stores don’t give you this money back, they will apply the overage as a discount on other items in your cart.
These items don’t have to be stockpile ones, but if you’re only buying extra items to avoid losing your overage, it’s best to buy non-perishable foods, toiletries, and cleaning products to avoid potential waste.
A Beginner’s Guide on How to Use Coupons
The great thing about learning how to how to use coupons is that it doesn’t only help you make serious savings on your grocery bills. Using coupons to their full potential also trains you to shop smarter by encouraging you to consider price points more carefully and limit yourself to only buying the items you need.
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