How to Use Coupons to Save Money Without Going Extreme

by Connie Mei · 3 comments

The one show many of us love to hate (myself included), is TLC’s “Extreme Couponing”. If you’ve ever seen the show, you definitely know what I mean.

Each episode follows a couple self proclaimed extreme couponers who head to the grocery stores with binders full of coupons and return with truckloads of stuff, most of it free.

The show has certainly started a couponing phenomenon. But becoming an extreme couponer can take up a lot of time — it’s almost like a full-time job.

Plus, you end up buying tons of stuff you don’t really need. However, using coupons is a great way to get good deals, save money, and stock up on items you’ll use in the near future. You just have to figure out how to do it moderately.

Here are 5 tips for couponing without going to the extreme.

Find Coupons Online

One way to get coupons is in your Sunday newspaper. But many people no longer read printed papers and instead opt to get their news online. If you’re one of those people, you can still get access to awesome coupons online.

In fact, many sites dedicated to coupons, saving money strategies, and deal cycles. All you need is a printer and plenty of paper. Some popular couponing sites include: TheKrazyCouponLady.com, MoneySavingMom.com, and Hip2Save.com.

Optimize Savings by Getting Organized

Organization is very important when it comes to couponing and key for not missing out on valuable savings. You want to be able to quickly find a coupon when you need it.

Using a binder or a filing folder, create a system for your coupons. You can organize them based on type, category, or expiration date. I like to go by categories — such as drinks, personal care, toilet paper, etc. This helps me locate the perfect coupon exactly when I need it.

Understand Your Store’s Coupon Policy

Every store’s coupon policy is different. Some stores will let you stack coupons, while others don’t. Some grocery chains will accept expired coupons but others won’t. So it’s important to do the research to find out the specifics.

Many stores offer double coupon dates, when the discount value of your coupon doubles. However, some stores are becoming more strict over the use of couponing as shows like “Extreme Couponing” become more and more popular.

Understand your store’s coupon policy so you don’t end up wasting your time or money.

Wait Until it’s on Sale

To get the most discounts on a product, you have to be flexible and patient. Do your best to plan ahead so you can afford to wait for the item to be on sale, and get the best deal possible.

This way, you can stack your coupons on top of any promotional discounts or extra savings deals. It’s hard to predict what products you’ll need, and when, but keep a close eye on what you have and make an inventory list.

This will allow you to keep tabs on items you need and watch out for a sale early on.

Ask For a Rain Check

When popular items go on sale, they usually sell out quick. Which means you can’t even use your coupon if you wanted to.

To avoid this situation, ask for a rain check so you can go back when they restock and use your coupon. All major stores will offer them, all you have to do is ask customer service.

When it comes to couponing, moderation is key. Avoid buying anything and everything you can just because you have a coupon.

You’ll end up wasting both time and money. However, if you coupon moderately and buy what you need, your savings can be significant.

How do you save money with coupons without going to extremes? What’s another tip that helps you save money?

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{ read the comments below or add one }

  • Patty says:

    Go paperless. Many (most?) grocery stores have loyalty cards. You can load coupons to the card from the store’s website or other websites (ex: Cellfire). Never carry a binder again!

    If you don’t get a Sunday paper or if your paper doesn’t carry good coupons, you can print coupons from websites such as SmartSource.com or RedPlum.com.

    Sometimes manufacturers will shoot you a coupon if you send them some product feedback in a nice email.

  • Alexis says:

    I don’t coupon as much as the people on Extreme Couponers do, but I like to believe that I coupon a decent amount. As Kayla mentioned above, this show has also made it more difficult for couponers because they are developing stricter rules for the rest of us.

  • Kayla @ Everything Finance says:

    This show has made it extremely difficult to use coupons in many grocery stores around the country. Retailers are tired of people trying to take advantage of coupon policies and thus many stores (including the ones in my town) have stopped doubling coupons and changed many policies to hinder these huge freebie shopping trips. I just want to use coupons to save money whenever I can, I don’t necessarily want to get everything for free.

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