Posted: June 27, 2011
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Part of the award-winningABC’s of Coupons” series

I try to make couponing un-extreme and un-complicated, not extreme and time consuming.   In order to achieve extreme coupon transactions without the headache, I have  a few tips:

Be Prepared For Entire Lifestyle Changes:
You aren’t going to start saving without trial and error, and without taking the time to “learn the ropes”.  This is not a get-rich-quick-scheme. Being a Couponer is a way of life. An entire new way of life isn’t going to start out immediately and you can’t dive in half way.  If you really want to save time couponing, you need to know all the rules before you start.

  • I have store coupon policies for several stores – print them and take them with you shopping.
  • I have a FREE 36-page ABC’s of Couponing guide which teaches how to do the deals.
  • I also list the deals at 72 stores nationwide – scroll over “Find My Store” at the top of my site to see all the store coupons and deals on my site; I add new ones weekly.

If you haven’t taken the time to learn how to coupon, and you want to show up at the store and save a bundle, you may be in for a big surprise.  It is possible to save time and money couponing, but it won’t happen without full preparation.

Start with ONE Store:
Learn how to coupon at one store.  Each store works differently and if you try to run around doing deals at 5 stores your first week of couponing, you will most likely fail.  Pick one store and learn their rules and do some shopping trips there.  Also, keep in mind you can miss some deals.  It isn’t saving money if you jump in the car and go in for just one deal.  You’ll miss some, but you’ll save in the long run. And trust me, the deals come around again so don’t feel bad if you miss them at first.

After mastering one store, start adding more to your resume.

“But Deidre, what store should I choose?!?!? – First, don’t choose Sam’s, or any other wholesale club.   I recommend choosing one of the 3 following depending on your needs and which is closer to you:

  • Drugstores – Walgreens, CVS or Rite Aid are my favorites.   You can score nearly free health and beauty items each week; but a word of caution, these are also the hardest stores to learn how to do.  I have training posts and videos for each and definitely learn one at a time.
  • High-low Grocery Stores – the grocery stores you commonly associate with high prices are also the ones that have some of the best grocery deals!  They have high every-day prices to “compensate” for their drastic sales.  They expect you to make impulse buys when you go in for the great sales.  This is why they have “loss leaders” or ads on their circular which are amazing, to get you in-store and then hope you buy regularly priced (expensive!) items while you are there.  But not anymore, now that you’re  a couponer you know better!  Examples of these stores are Publix, Kroger, Safeway, & Albertson’s to name a few.
  • Super centers – Target, Walmart etc… often have some great deals and their rules are pretty straight-forward compared to the other options, but actually the savings often won’t be as great as at high-low grocery stores.

Plan Your Trips:

  • Will you need “filler” items to bring your totals into correct amounts? No one wants to end up at the cashiers browsing candy for filler items because they haven’t planned their shopping trip!  Examples of why you’ll need a filler item:

At Walgeen’s, you need to have as many items as you have manufacturer’s coupons and register rewards that you are going to be using to pay for the transaction (not ones that you expect to print).  This means if you are buying 6 items and have 6 coupons and 2 register rewards that you want to use to pay for the transaction, you’ll need two filler items.   Don’t waste your filler item on something you don’t need.  Gellitin is found at many Walgreens for around $.20 and is more useful to you then candy.

I have even bought Sunday papers as filler items at a grocery store where I needed my total to be over $50 to use a $5 off coupon.

  • Avoid End Caps!
    End caps are displays at the end of aisles.  Before you were a couponer, you thought these were great deals.  These usually aren’t and are a great way to end up over-paying for items you could have gotten cheaper later when you found a sale stacked with a  coupon.
  • Avoid Impulse Buys!
    This goes along with my last tip of avoiding end caps, because those are usually where you will do an impulse buy.   Check your stock up price list and  then see if the “deal” paired with any coupons you have is a stock up price.  If not, pass on the sale.  More deals will come along later.
  • Have Your Coupons Ready:
    Don’t be the lady at the checkout sorting through coupons and holding up the line.  Every time I am at a store and find an item on my shopping list,  I pull the coupon(s) I am using and put them in a tab at the front of my binder.  Then when I get to the register, all my coupons are in one place and ready to go.

Let’s make couponing fun, one coupon at a time!  If you have more tips to share, please post a comment.

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