28 Do’s and Don’ts for Shopping with Coupons (for Beginners)
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Starting couponing can be overwhelming. There’s a lot more to it than randomly finding a coupon, cutting it out and handing it over to the cashier.
It’s not necessary to be “extreme” when you coupon. That is, you don’t need to spend hours upon hours preparing for a shopping trip and hoard mass quantities of everything in your house.
There are some techniques that will help you maximize your grocery budget and save big bucks. I consistently save over a thousand dollars a year on groceries using these techniques while avoiding being extreme and keeping a modest stockpile.
Here are the keys to being a successful couponer:
- ONLY purchase items that are on sale. Whenever possible, match a coupon with a sale item.
- Stockpile gradually. At each shopping trip find a few items you use and purchase enough to maintain a small stockpile that will last a few months.
- There is a range for good sale prices. Buy when prices are in the best price range.
- Check sales each week to see what items have the best price.
- Use your coupon on the smallest product available.
- When possible, stack a manufacturer coupon with a store coupon.
- Use multiple devices to print online coupons. You can usually print 2 coupons per laptop, desktop or sometimes even a smart phone or tablet if your printer has the capability.
- Only carry coupons you plan to use. It’s not necessary to carry a large binder with hundreds of coupons. This will save a lot of time in clipping and at the cash register.
- Take a raincheck if a product is out of stock. (If a raincheck is available.)
- Always shop with a shopping list. If an item is not on my list, it doesn’t make it into my cart. In order to make it onto my list the item must be one or more of the following
- on sale and something my family regularly uses,
- has a coupon and/or
- I need it.
- Plan meals around sales. Think about what meals you can prepare from items that are on sale. (If you need help planning meals, I recommend The Dinner Daily. They plan healthy meals around store sales for you each week. Get a 2-week free trial here.)
- Save on meat by buying and freezing when prices get low.
- Save on fresh produce by buying what’s in season. Use coupons for frozen vegetables.
- When possible, shop during off peak hours so the store is less crowded.
- Use rebate apps. Check ibotta, CheckOut51, and other rebate apps for rebates on any brand items or items that you purchased. Every little bit adds up! I’ve earned back over $200 from rebate apps.
- Donate! If saving on groceries blesses your life, you’ll have the ability to give to those less fortunate. Donate to food drives, women’s shelters, homeless shelters, schools, and other organizations that collect for charity.
- Don’t feel bad about paying a little more on occasion. Prices for the same item will fluctuate. Feel good about your purchase whenever you save.
- Don’t buy something just because it’s a good deal. Only buy what you need and will use before it expires.
- Don’t get sucked into a bunch of coupon and deal blogs. These can be a big time killer when they constantly post the next “hot deal”. Pick your favorite site and refer to it when you’re ready to shop.
- Don’t go overboard on stockpiling. Only purchase items your family will use. Keep a reasonable quantity on hand but don’t store more than you can use.
- Don’t clear the shelves. Take what your family needs at the time or a few at a time to build your stockpile. Another sale will come around and you can purchase more another day. Let others get what they need as well.
- Don’t be brand loyal. Be willing to branch out and try new products if you can get a great deal on something you regularly use. You might be surprised that you like a new brand more, especially when they save you money.
- Don’t shop hungry!
- Don’t plan meals on the fly or based on “what sounds good” or “what’s easy”. Base meal plans on what’s in your pantry already and the sales that week.
- Don’t photocopy printable coupons! Not only is it illegal but there are tracking methods to know when it’s been photocopied. Following unethical coupon practices will force stores to impose stricter rules and we all lose.
- Don’t try to use coupons for items they are not intended for. Make sure the coupon matches all product specifications.
- Don’t try to use expired coupons. They won’t go through checkout and make you look bad as a couponer.
- Don't overwhelm yourself with too much. If you overdo it, you can experience “couponing burnout".
Need Help Getting Started?
Like I said, there’s a lot to know to save money with coupons.
If you’re a beginner and could use some help getting started, make sure to download my Couponers Ultimate Quick Start Guide.
If you could use a little extra help and want a step-by-step walk-through of how I save money without all the overwhelm, check out my online couponing class, Load Your Cart for Less.
- Step-by step video instructions
- Walk through my exact strategy that I shop with every week to save thousands.
- Top couponing websites
- Online resource library (all couponing resources conveniently located in one place).
- The easiest way to shop with coupons (I'm a self-proclaimed "lazy couponer".)
I’ve taught this class to hundreds of families to show them the way to shop with coupons. It doesn’t have to take hours of your time, you don’t have to shop several stores every week, and you don’t have to carry around a heavy binder full of coupons. Check it out now!