Using coupons seems like an old-fashioned, time-consuming way to save a few cents on the products you buy at the grocery store. After all, most coupons don’t usually have a face value of more than $1 and, quite often, they're worth far less. But done properly, couponing can save you thousands of dollars every year. Here’s how to get the most out of your couponing efforts so you can save big in 2018.
1. Don’t just clip coupons
Sure there are still coupons that come in local shoppers, magazines and the newspaper, but there are many more options online these days. Some of our favorite couponing sites include Mambo Sprouts, RetailMeNot, Coupons.com and The Krazy Coupon Lady. You’ll find not only coupons, but also recipes, ideas and tips on how to save even more. You can also find coupons and promotions on some manufacturer websites, so don’t forget to visit your favorite brands' site.
2. Buy in bulk when there’s a sale
When you find a coupon for a product you like, especially if you can combine it with a sale and/or double or triple coupon days (more on that in a minute) you can save more by purchasing as many units as possible. Keep in mind that a lot of coupons limit the number you can buy — and avoid buying items that are perishable if you won't actually consume them.
3. Hold out for discounts
People who save the most using coupons simply don’t buy products they can’t get at a discount. They hold out until they can get a lower price and then buy big.
4. Don’t be wed to just one product brand ...
Sure you have your favorite brand of toothpaste, but most of them are quite similar when it comes to cleaning your teeth and freshening your breath. Likewise with many other hygiene and home-cleaning products, so if you have a coupon, give a new brand a try. You may find you like it even better than the one you use now. (Also worth trying: the generic brand, which is sometimes just as good, but cheaper.)
5. ... or just one store
Different stores have different sales on different items, so it's worthwhile to check multiple store websites for the week’s deals and shop where you can save the most.
6. Don’t forget about 'super' stores
Big box 'super' stores like Target and Walmart are a great place to make the most of your coupon savings on everything from groceries to household items and beyond.
7. Know the store's everyday prices
You won’t know whether you’re really getting a good deal if you don’t know what a store’s everyday prices are. For example, the manufacturer puts out a coupon for 25 cents off peanut butter but the store increases the price 30 cents. You actually end up paying 5 cents extra, so doing research pays off.
8. Know the store coupon policies
A lot of store employees and even managers aren’t familiar with their coupon policies, so having a copy should you be denied a particular discount can come in handy. (Most chains have their policy of their websites, so there's no need to walk around with tons of paper in your pockets. You can pull the policy up on your smartphone.)
9. Watch for double & even triple coupon days
Coupon-stacking is where the big savings start, especially if you have a slip for an item that is already on sale (see above).
10. Add store coupons to the mix for extra savings
Some stores offer a set savings amount on total purchases over a certain dollar amount. For example, $5 off your purchase of $50 or more — an offer that's particularly useful if you've already decided to buy in bulk.
11. Get extreme
Extreme couponing is a thing and, while it requires a lot of front-end work, the savings can be, well, extreme. The strategy requires using every suggestion above and applying all of them to each purchase you make. That's overwhelming for beginners, so it’s a good idea to start with a few tricks at just one store before expanding your couponing game.
12. Start a coupon sharing/swapping club
One way to make finding the coupons you need easier is to swap coupons with friends and family. Have some coupons for products you don’t really want or need? Maybe your neighbor would like them. If everyone is collecting coupons wherever they find them and sharing with everyone else, the old-school saving strategy is easier and even a little fun.
*Looking for more family savings? Here are a few easy money hacks for moms and dads.