Shopping with coupons can seem intimidating at first, but with time the practice of using coupons becomes second nature. Clipping coupons is an excellent way to save money, and be able to purchase all your favorite items. Planning ahead may seem time consuming, and trust me it is. But the amount of money saved can be worth that one or two hours you spend clipping coupons and going through your weekly circulars.
I use coupons for everything. Coupons for produce items are scarce, but you can sometimes find them in weekly circulars. My coupons are separated into categories, and organized them in file folders. Some examples of my file folders are:
- Oral care
- Paper Products
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As your coupon collection continues to grow you may need to create more specific categories. Divide Personal Care items into Shampoo, Conditioner, and Body Wash. Many people prefer to use a binder and plastic sleeves to store their coupons. It’s up to you to decide what’s best.
Match Coupons with Sales Items
I plan my shopping trip as soon as I receive the Sunday newspaper. I go through the coupon inserts, and match then what’s on sale in the weekly circulars. My favorite stores to shop at include Aldi’s, Stop & Shop, and sometimes I go to Trader’s Joes. I look for the best deals at each store, and judge which one will give me the most bang for my buck that week.
Each grocery store has strengths and weaknesses. Aldi’s and Trader Joe’s have the lowest prices, but they do not carry as much inventory as other major grocery store chains. Stop & Shop has a large selection of organic produce, but they can be more expensive than Aldi’s. I don’t always find savings buying organic fruits and veggies, but this is something I tend not to skimp on. Lately I’ve found a lot of inexpensive organic veggies at Aldi’s so that’s a major plus for me. I’m happy more grocery store chains are carrying affordable organic produce for their customers.
Once I’ve chosen the store we’re going to visit I write down all the deals that stand out to me. Then I go through my coupon folders and search for the matching coupon. This is when having a lot of separate categories comes in handy. If I’m looking for a Herbal Essences coupon I only have to go through a few in Shampoo instead of searching through fifty coupons in Personal Care.
I store all the coupons I might use in my wallet and I also bring a zip lock baggie with me to the store. As I cross items off my list I pick out the matching coupons from my wallet and plop it into the zip lock baggie. When I get to the check out line I have all my coupons ready to use in the baggie.
This is a handy method because I don’t always use all the coupons I bring. Sometimes I don’t find the item I’m looking for or the coupon turns out to be for another product.
Read the fine print
Always read coupons thoroughly twice. Coupons almost always have certain restrictions. Just the other day I thought I had a $1 off coupon for two ketchup bottles. I reread it again standing in line to check out, and it turned out to be for one ketchup and mustard bottle. Thankfully the Ketchup bottles had peelies for $1.50 off the sale price of $1.88. I got each bottle for 38 cents!
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I have coupon apps downloaded on my smartphone, and even though they’re helpful I rarely rely on them for my weekly shopping trips. I mostly use coupon apps to search for deals I might have missed, and that I can easily get to on my way home from the gym. I think learning how to match coupons with items that are on sale is a great skill to have.
I prefer to give my coupons to the cashier after all the items are scanned. One time I did hand the coupons to the cashier before the transaction, and the cashier left them on the cash register. We both forgot about it, but fortunately I checked my receipt before leaving the store. Customer service was very helpful, and honored the coupons after my purchase.
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