I loved the idea of strutting out of the grocery store, carts stuffed with everything I could need to survive a zombie apocalypse, paying with a $20 and having change to spare for coffee later. Those couponers can make it look like it is as simple as clipping some coupons, organizing them into a binder and then hitting the store.
When I tried couponing out in real life, my zombie apocalypse bunker wouldn’t even get me through the week. I can only hope Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) will share his squirrels with me.
Beginning the couponing journey is the hardest part. It is NOT as easy as clipping a few coupons, printing a few extras off at home and then waltzing through the store with a plan to buy everything you need on a weekly basis. The reality of that scenario is lots of work, lots of hunting, and even more time planning.
First – Learn your favorite store’s coupon policy. Some places double, others don’t. Some stores price match, others don’t. Several retailers will let you combine store coupons and manufacturer coupons, guess what…others don’t. Not only can the policy vary from chain-to-chain, it can vary from branch-to-branch.
Second – Learn price points and factor that into sales and discount offerings. Store A might have a standard cheaper price on diapers, but Store B has them on sale and doubles coupons. Learning to pair coupons with sales is the key to maximizing savings and scoring freebies.
Third – Coupons. You can get them from various sites on the web, newspapers, in store on those blinking machines, and even on the product itself. You can also find coupon swap groups and clipping services with a simple internet search. Bottom line…If you see a coupon – grab it. You may not purchase diapers anymore, but you might be able to swap it for a discount on a product you do use.
Forth – Know your store’s coupon policy. I know I covered it already, but it bears repeating. You don’t want to stock your cart full of toothpaste, ready to pay with a stack of coupons only to discover the store only allows four identical coupons to be used in a single transaction.
Fifth – Stack as many discounts together as you can. Target is awesome when it comes to their opportunities to save. You can use a manufacturer coupon, store coupon, and a Cartwheel discount on a singular item. Triple savings!
Sixth – Don’t limit your savings to coupons. Smartphone apps for extra savings, like Ibotta, are being developed all the time.
It’s a process and it takes work. It’s beyond worth the effort and has become a bit of a personal enjoyment. Like being on the Price Is Right and winning every week.