Now that we have a system to organize our coupons, how do we use them? The key to maximizing your savings is to combine a coupon with a sale, and then stockpile when you can.
1. Look through the ads – Usually twice a week (Sundays and Wednesdays when I receive the ads), I quickly look through the ads and circle the items that are on sale, or the best price for the items that I need. I also write these items down on my shopping list with the store name at the top of each list.
2. Price Matching – There are several stores that price match - this means that you can take a current ad from another competing store in the area, and they will match the price. In my area, this includes Wal-Mart, Target, No Frills, and certain Hy-Vee stores. It is important to understand each store’s price-matching policy, as they will vary.
For me, this is a great time-saver! I usually pick the store that has the most sales that I like and then price match to get the same prices the other stores offer! This saves me from going store to store to store each week – who has time for that? My top picks are Target and Wal-Mart (easiest price matching).
3. Coupon Matchups - This is where those coupons come in! I will try to post coupon matchups for some of the more popular stores as much as I can. Additionally, there are many websites that keep an updated coupon database (Do a Google Search for ‘coupon database’ and pick one that works the best for you. One of my favorites is from Money Saving Mom). Let’s say that Betty Crocker cake mix is on sale. Now, that is a coupon that I wouldn’t automatically cut out of the coupon inserts. So I find my favorite coupon database, type in Betty Crocker cake mix (or just Betty Crocker), and up pops all the available coupons. I pick the highest value and then go find it!
Let’s say there is a coupon in SS 1/21. That means that there should be a coupon for Betty Crocker in the Smart Source dated 1/21. (Go here to see all the abbreviations explained.) I then go to my expandable binder with all of my coupon inserts, find the Smart Source coupon insert dated 1/21 and find my coupon. Please note: There are regional variations in coupons, meaning that residents might receive different coupon inserts based on where you live. I have even seen differences within my own city. So sometimes, you may not find that coupon you are looking for.
Occasionally, some of the coupons are printable coupons. These are often higher in value than the coupon inserts, and so can be very helpful. For information on Printable coupons, go here.
Double Coupons – If you are lucky enough to live in an area that doubles or triples coupons, that is even more savings! Unfortunately, I have no stores in my area that regularly doubles coupons, although there are a few stores that occasionally offer it for a specific time frame.
CC image courtesy of David Reber
Next step: Understanding Coupon Lingo!
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