5 Days to Christmas

The ABCs of Couponing

Always check for clearance items throughout the store. You can get incredible deals when you use a coupon on the discounted price.

Brand names are often cheaper than generic foods when you use a coupon. Don’t be afraid to go for the name brand items.

Catalina coupons will be printed when you are finished checking out at most stores. These can be very valuable, and are often for money off your next shopping trip not necessarily a particular product. Don’t overlook them.

Double and Triple Coupons: Many stores will offer double or triple coupons every day and some will have higher value double/triple coupon bonus days. Be on the lookout!

Expired coupons do have value. Believe it or not, many states allow shoppers to use expired coupons and military families can use them overseas for up to six months. Please find someone who can use your coupons and pass them on.

Fast cashiers make the checkout process easier. Long-time cashiers, typically, hate coupons. Look for a young cashier, preferably male.

Great things come in small packages. Smaller sizes are often the better buy with coupons. If a coupon states “good on any size,” buy the smallest size unless the larger size is on sale. These types of coupons often allow you to get many travel-sized items for free.

Higher priced stores often have the best sales and coupon policies. Be sure to investigate each store’s policies before deciding where you will shop.

Invest the time. Saving money takes some time and effort. Set aside a little time each week (maybe even while watching television) to prepare for your shopping trip.

Junk mail can often include hidden treasures. Be sure to go through the mailings for great coupons on groceries, dining and entertainment. Coupons can also be found on or in the packages of products.

Know your storage and fridge space. It doesn’t save money to buy 25 yogurts if you only have room for 10.

Lots of coupons are the key to your savings. Buy more than one paper each week, especially when the coupons are good. Trade for what you need or keep them all; you never know when something will be free with that coupon. Don’t forget to ask friends and family for their unused coupons.

Match coupons to sale items for the best buys. Examine weekly store ads before you shop—have your coupons and your calculator ready while you do this. Separate the coupons that you will use at each store.

Never go into a store without your coupons. You never know when and where you will find a great deal!

Organization is important. Find a system that works for you and spend the time to keep it going.

Plan your route. If you shop more than one store in a week, be sure to map your route to save money on gas as well. When you have something to mail, skip the extra trip to the post office- a lot of grocery stores will sell stamps too!

Questions are only stupid when they go unasked. Be sure to talk to customer service personnel about the store limits and policies. If a cashier is unfamiliar with a policy you will be able to direct her to someone who knows.

Rebates can save a lot of money, but don’t fall into the trap of buying something you don’t need just for a rebate. Watch for rebates or special offers on products you already buy.

Share your savings. Pass on the savings by donating your unwanted deals to your local food bank. Also, share your new found knowledge with those who need it.

Take full advantage of every sale. Collect as many multiple coupons as you can for anything you know you’ll use. When it is on sale buy as many as you can to last until the next sale!

Using a coupon just because you have it is NOT wise. Use only the coupons for items you would buy anyway, unless it will make the product free. Accept that you will not use every coupon and don’t worry if a coupon expires—there will always be more coupons.

Variety is the spice of life. Don’t be loyal to one brand just because it is what your mother used! There are times when you really like a particular brand and that is fine. By all means, go ahead and treat yourself to that brand. Just be sure to give other brands a try because you may end up liking them better at a lower cost.

Write your name in ink somewhere prominent in your coupon binder or box. Put your phone number there as well. You will be glad you did the first time you leave it in the cart!

Yank those coupons from the red blinky machines at the store. Also be sure to keep your eye out for tearpads and coupons attached to products. The tear pad and blinky coupons can be saved for a sale!

Zero—the cost of many of your groceries when you master the art of couponing!

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