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Getting Started: Couponing 101

Couponing can be fun, but there is a slight learning curve. I started using coupons long before couponing was so popular. Shows like Extreme Couponing, has brought so much attention to couponing, and everyone wants to know how to get started.

While anyone can clip a coupon and go to the store to purchase the item using the coupon. Not everyone understands the best way to maximize your savings when using coupons.

The most frequent question I get about couponing is “How do you get started?”. While that is a somewhat easy answer, most people asking that question are interested more in accomplishing what they see on Extreme Couponing, and that is not realistic. While you most definitely can purchase $500 worth of groceries for only a few dollars after coupons, this is not realistic for your weekly grocery trip. A lot of what you see on that show is padded up for the sake of ratings.

Here are a few things you can do to get started.

1. Purchase your local Sunday newspaper. I always say to buy at least 2 copies, this way you’ll have two coupons which will come in handy for a buy one get one free sale.  If your newspaper is more than $2, that may not be the best way to gather coupons. Find other sources that you can get coupon inserts, such as the local recycle center, the recycle bin at the local post office, from friends and family, lastly you can use a clipping service. A clipping service is someone who charges you a fee to clip coupons, and then mails them to you. A Google search will provide you with some clipping services, or a search on eBay.

2. Find an organizing method that works for you. Some use a binder with baseball card inserts, sorted by category. Another way I’ve seen is only clipping the coupons you need as you need them, and filing the whole insert. I’ve recently switched to using a shoe box filing system, divided by category using index cards. I’m still trying to decide if I like this way better than my coupon binder. How you orgainze your coupons doesn’t matter, what matters is that they are organized in a way to make using coupons easy for you.

3. Match your local grocery store, Target, Walmart, or other local store’s sales with the coupons you have. Your goal is to purchase items when they are on sale and combine that sale with the coupon to pay the least amount. To make this easier for you, search for a “matchup” of your local store online. There are all kinds of blogs that are dedicated to store matchups to help you get the most bang for your coupon 🙂

4. Don’t buy something just because you have a coupon. Again you want to only buy what you need when the item is at it’s lowest price. With few exceptions, which I’ll explain later.

5. Stock up! When you find something you need, that combined with a coupon is the lowest price, stock up. I don’t mean buy 100 boxes of pasta that you have no space to store, but buy enough to last you a good 3-6 months, or as much as you feel comfortable stocking up on.

6. When should you buy things you don’t need? The answer, only when the item is what  is called a money maker, or when it’s free. You can always donate these items. A money maker is an item that is less than the value of the coupon. Some stores will give you the “overage” back to use towards the rest of your order. Walmart will give you cash back. These items are rare, and when there are coupons that make an item a money maker, they usually are hard to find in stock.

8. Keep all of the coupons, you never know when you might need them. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tossed a coupon that I though I would never use, only to wish I had it for a deal.

7. Print printable coupons. I have links above to some of the popular printable sites. Some coupon printables are only available for a short amount of time, so make sure you print them when you come across them.

8. Once a month, clear out the expired coupons. There are some organizations that collect expired coupons for the military. Many military members can use expired coupons on base, up to six months after expiration.

Now let’s start savings! Let me know if you have any tips you’d like to share!


Permanent link to this article: http://tampacouponmama.com/2012/02/02/getting-started-couponing-101/

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  1. Tampa Coupon Mama

    Getting Started: Couponing 101 http://t.co/pgNuTVFO

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