SAVE . . . without going insane!
Clipping coupons is the classic way to save money on food and household products, and, these days, every little bit saved helps. To nab the best deals while using coupons, check out these tricks and tools that’ll point the way.
The tips and strategies here are designed to get you savings from coupons without a lot of effort or craziness (some people drive around to multiple stores with their coupons to get the most savings and stockpile as much as possible from the sales, but whether you go that far is up to you. You’ll still save some money shopping just one store with the tricks below.)
Use Coupons Only with Items That Are On Sale
One of the best ways to make your coupons save you more is to apply them to stuff that’s on sale. We’ve previously noted a trick where you save the coupons for a month, then hit the store, where you’ll find most of the coupons align with what’s on sale.
A more precise way to find what’s on sale—and what’s a good bargain for your coupons—is to tap into a coupon and store sales database. CouponMom is a free site that lists sales for large stores like Wal-Mart and Target, as well as drugstores like CVS, Rite Aid, and Walgreens, and you can look up grocery stores for your state. You’ll need to register for a free account to access the CouponMom database. This is an example of what CouponMom looks like:
And here’s how to use your coupons with CouponMom:
- Every Sunday take the coupon circulars out of the paper, and write the date on the top. Many coupon manufacturers, such as RedPlum, offer their coupons online as well. (If you don’t want to go through the paper, you can instead download previously mentioned iOS app Weekly Ads & Sales, but I’m not sure as many stores are supported or as many coupons are available. Also previously mentioned Coupon Sherpa, available on the iPhone and Android, also puts coupons that can be scanned at checkout on your mobile phone.)
- Then each week or whenever you feel like shopping, check the extreme grocery deals by state list CouponMom compiles each week.
- Use the dropdown to select your state and you’ll get a list of all store deals that, with or without coupons, are 50% or higher. These are the ideal things to use your coupons on.
- Sort the list by store for easier shopping trip planning.
- Check the boxes next to the products you want to buy and click the “Display Selected Deals” button at the bottom to filter by just those items. You can print or email the list to yourself.
- Finally, find the coupons you need by looking at the first column. The list notes the date of the coupon and symbol GM (for General Mills), S (SmartSource), RP (Red Plum), and so on so you can easily find which circular the coupons are from. (This is why writing the date on the circular helps.)
Repeat, if you wish, with the national list of extreme coupon deals, which includes Wal-Mart, Rite Aid, CVS, Walgreens, Target, and Kmart.
If you prefer, you can instead access a store-specific list, which will show all deals for that store—not just ones 50% or more.
That’s it. Head to the store(s) with your coupons.
If you find a particularly good deal (say, on your favorite usually expensive cereal), it’d be worth buying another paper to get another coupon so you can stock up on that item.
(Note: Previously mentioned site MyGroceryDeals.com also lets you see what’s on sale and print coupons for select stores, but I prefer CouponMom because you can see the % savings on each thing on sale.)
Visit Grocery Stores That Double Coupon Values
For even more savings, spend your food shopping dollars at stores that double (or even triple) the amount of the coupon. Coupons, Deals, and More offers a list of those stores by state.
You’ll probably need to check with the stores near you to confirm any exceptions, such as if the coupons only double on certain days.
Use Virtual Coupons
One more way to hack coupons: go digital. Cellfire and Shortcuts.com are two similar services that tie coupons to your club card. Select the coupons you want and then the savings are reflected at checkout—no physical coupon clipping required. You’ll want to check that participating stores are near you.
College savings site Upromise offers a similar service, but when you buy the item(s), savings go into your Upromise account.
Do you use coupons and have any tricks to share with us? You know where to post them.