Couponing 101: 5 Tips Beginners Should Know

If you’re a dedicated saver, then couponing is surely something you should be doing. Couponing is a wonderful way to save precious dollars on your regular trips to the grocery store. If you’re a beginner at collecting and using coupons, then here are some tips you might find extremely helpful:

1) Know where to find coupons.

A real saver knows where to find coupons. The Sunday newspaper is a cherished source of coupons, and so are the flyers being given out at the supermarket. You should definitely also take advantage of the Internet. Perform an online search for coupons that you can print out. If you’re looking for a coupon for a particular brand, then check the merchant’s website to see if there are any great deals you can take advantage of before hitting the stores.

2) Try new things.

As you clip coupons, you’ll find wonderful deals on all sorts of brands and products. If you want to use these coupons, keep in mind that you should be open to trying new products. You can’t always be loyal to a particular brand if you want to get the best deals.

3) Plan ahead.

Plan your weekly menu based on the coupons you’ll be using to match with the sales for that particular week. If you’re using a coupon for chicken, then plan on cooking several meals using chicken over the next few days. This way you’ll be able to truly make use of your coupons instead of letting things go to waste.

4) Stock up on non-perishable items.

If you’ve got coupons for basic non-perishable items such as soap, toothpaste and paper towels, take advantage of them even if you aren’t running low on supplies yet. There’s nothing wrong with stocking up on some items if you know you’ll eventually use them. Of course, make sure you’ve got space for it at home!

5) Aim to save.

Remember that the ultimate goal behind your couponing is to save money on the items that you need! Sure, you have a coupon – but don’t purchase a particular item if you don’t actually need it or have a use for it.

Photo Credit: iClipart


How Retailers Benefit From Coupon Laden Customers

During the past several years that I’ve been couponing, I’ve encountered many different “attitudes” from store clerks to store managers regarding the coupons I bring in. There are the stores and clerks who clearly recognize that couponing is a regular thing for customers and take the coupons with no problem, while other clerks act like we’re robbing the store by using our coupons. Other times a manager is called over to the checkout lane to verify if a certain coupon can be used or not, and it’s then up to the manager to give the ok, or deny the use of the coupon.  Sometimes coupons are denied that were perfectly fine to use the previous week.  This is frustrating for both customers and cashiers.

While many retailers and cashiers seem to “get it”, there are others who need to understand that the use of coupons by their customers is a win/win for the store AND for the customer. Consider the following points.

  • Manufacturers promote coupons in order to gain new customers for a particular product, or to increase sales by encouraging customers to buy additional products through the use of $x/2 or B1G1 coupons.  This also helps the stores to turn over their merchandise much more quickly.
  • Manufacturers PAY retailers for accepting and handling their coupons. Retailers are reimbursed for the face value of the coupon PLUS 8 cents each as a handling fee. For a grocery store that is coupon friendly and receives many coupons, the handling fees represent a nice extra profit, especially for an industry that traditionally has low profit margins.
  • Most major retail establishments, including grocery stores, drug stores and department stores, send out weekly sales flyers or place them in the local newspaper. Given the current state of the economy it just makes good fiscal sense to scour those ads for the best deals.  Savvy shoppers look for ways to match those sales with coupons to get even better deals and the stores benefit by bringing in customers who may not have shopped in their store otherwise.  Matching the store’s deals with manufacturer coupons brings additional sales and new customers into the store.

Each chain has its own coupon policy and it is primarily up to the individual store managers to interpret the policies. I’ve heard of cusomers that usually shop at certain stores, like Safeway or Publix or Winn Dixie, etc, but will BYPASS the closest one and drive further away to the store that will allow them to use their coupons and not make them feel like they’re “stealing” from the store. I personally pass by a drugstore that is nearest my home to shop at a different one from the same chain because that location encourages my use of coupons while the one closest to me treats me like a second class citizen when I pull my coupons out.  Wouldn’t you say in this case that the “neighborhood” store is the loser because  couponing customers will simply take their business elsewhere?

As more store managers come to understand that the coupon laden customer is really a VALUED customer, and arm their cashiers with this knowledge as well, the stores that welcome couponers will actually be the big winners, as will the customers who are allowed to use their coupons in a friendly atmosphere.

About the author:  This post was written by Sarah J. Doyle, an avid couponer who enjoys saving everywhere she can, so she can spend more on her grandkids!


Quick & Easy Grocery Savings Tips

While the new Extreme Couponing show on TLC is very entertaining, they’re not exactly showing a typical couponing trip to the grocery store.  Using coupons strategically saved my family over $11,500 last year so I’m obviously a firm believer, but I also understand that couponing isn’t for everyone.  Here are some quick and easy savings tips that will help you to save on your grocery budget without clipping any coupons!

Shop With a List

Know what you’re buying before you get to the store!  The only time you should add anything once you get there is if you happen to find a great deal on something that you normally use – say hamburger has been marked down or your favorite hairspray is on clearance.

Warehouse Stores

Most grocery and toiletry items can be purchased cheaper elsewhere by following the weekly sales (and cheap to free if you match coupons), but meat, bread and fresh produce are almost always a better deal at warehouse club stores.

Buy in Bulk & Freeze

Purchase larger family packs of meat when they’re on sale, divide them into meal sized portions and freeze.  Better yet, put marinade in the freezer bags with the meat  to save time later because the meat will marinate as it thaws.  We also buy things like milk, shredded cheese, lunchmeat and yeast in bulk when the price is right and store them in the freezer.

Buy Cheaper Cuts of Meat

Less expensive cuts of meat like shoulder roasts and spare ribs can save you both time and money because they’re terrific in the slow cooker.

Keep Track of What You Use

Monitor what and how much your family actually uses so you don’t end up buying extra and letting it go to waste.  Don’t buy the larger bag of carrots because it’s cheaper per pound if you typically only use half as much.

Shop the Perimeter of the Store

Grocery stores are generally arranged so that the most purchased items like bread, milk and meat are located along the outer walls with more expensive items along the interior aisles so that you must pass them to get to the things you need.

Plan Your Menus

Simply planning your weekly menus ahead of time and basing them on your grocery store’s weekly sales can save you a tremendous amount, both on your budget and in decreased waste.  Because you know in advance what’s on the menu, you’ll only buy the things you need.

Photo Credit:  iClipart