Using coupons at the grocery store saves money. Everyone knows that. But how do you get your hands on these coupons and then know when to use them? Extreme couponing is a great way to save a lot of money, but there are a couple of downsides. Most grocery store chains have cut back on double and triple coupons, making the saving bonanzas you see on TV harder to come by. Also, you’ll need a lot of time to plan and review sales flyers for nearby grocery stores.
The savings power of “regular” couponing is worth exploring as an alternative instead, but with the lessened popularity of newspapers, finding coupons isn’t as easy as it once was. The first place to look is in the grocery store itself. Food manufacturers on both a national and a local level often provide coupons near or on products that are being introduced to a new market. Often, when companies have in-store food demonstrations, coupons are available at the table, as well. Check the expiration dates; if you’ve got a month or so before your savings become a useless piece of paper (and you can wait on the purchase), Doc Frugal recommends holding out and waiting to see if the item goes on sale – particularly if the item is seasonal, or truly a luxury.
Manufacturers’ websites frequently offer coupons. Betty Crocker and Proctor & Gamble have hundreds of coupons available through their websites, and subscribing to their email newsletters will often provide you with “member” coupons, too. It’s worth clicking through to any recipes that appeal to you; not only will you find coupons there, but the website will often link you to sales at food stores based on your profile information, allowing you to “stack” your savings.
Speaking of manufacturers’ websites… signing up for free samples on new products will often net you the sample, plus a coupon for the product, too. Just about all manufacturers offer samples, but supplies are limited so you need to get in early. A good website to haunt is the freebies section of Reddit which you can sort by geographical region.
Doc would also suggest contacting a company when you have a complaint about the product (those “100% Satisfaction Guarantees” are real), but also when you have a compliment, too. Companies, no matter how large or small they are, like to know how consumers view their products, and will often respond with coupons and other goodies when contacted.
Your frequent shopper card from your local grocery store is also your ticket to savings. Signing up to receive the weekly circular via email will not only let you know what products are on sale for the week, but will also give you access to electronic coupons, as well. These can be loaded onto your card (and some of them can be used more than once over a set period of time), which save you the trouble of printing (and remembering to bring them). E-coupons are really a fantastic way to see real savings on items. Most sites allow you to filter products by category, too; larger purchase price items (paper products, coffees, laundry soaps, etc.) almost always have an e-coupon available, and sometimes you can even find coupons for store brands, too.
A final tip on “stacking” your savings: if you have a coupon for, say, $2.00 off two laundry detergents, try to hold off for a sale if you can – particularly if you can get them BOGO. Always try to be aware of other sales and promotions happening, as well. One of Doc’s local stores runs a “Buy 5/Save $5” event twice a month: purchase any five products in one order, and save $5 in total. By stacking coupons on top of these products, the savings is even more significant.
If your grocery store prints coupons after your checkout, make sure there are coupons hanging out of the printer before getting in line. You wouldn’t want to come up empty if that printer is out of ink or otherwise not in working order.
Bonus assignment: If you have a coupon you won’t be using, leave it on top of that product and someone else will be able to grab it and use it for that item. You’ll be that anonymous kind stranger they’ll thank for saving them money!
To get you started, Doc Frugal has rounded up some not so extreme coupons just for you! Check back regularly, as the coupons are always fresh and relevant.
Head on over to the Doc Frugal Coupon Savings Center to find even more deals.