Perhaps it’s the economic downturn or maybe shoppers in droves are realizing how much money can be saved – but coupons are the hottest new shopping accessory.  Binders full of coupons sit atop grocery carts as the status symbol of the savvy shopper.  I was taught to bargain shop and use coupons by my mother as a young person.  However, shows like TLC’s “Extreme Couponing” take savings to another level.  Shoppers with stacks of coupons storm the stores and leave with carts full of hundreds of dollars in savings.  How is this possible, or is it even real?  I asked Allyson Warriner, a fellow couponer, to explain her process and give some advice on how to begin for the novice saver.


Tips for using coupons:

First what is your goal?  Are you saving on a particular item or do you have an overall weekly dollar amount you’d like to save?  Next and most important, EDUCATE YOURSELF.  Become familiar with store rewards programs and coupon policies.  Each store is different so carefully review the policies for any stores that you frequent.  Initially, focus on one store for your couponing – maybe a drug or grocery store with a rewards program.  Sign up with the store’s online coupon program for additional unadvertised savings. 

Stores have six week cycles for sales.  Look through store sales circulars each week to identify bottom dollar prices.  You can match up lowest pricing with cut or store coupons to maximize savings, so knowing when the items are at best price is important.

ORGANIZE, ORGANIZE, ORGANIZE.  This doesn’t necessarily mean hours spent pouring over coupons, however your savings will reflect a certain time commitment.  Begin planning your weekly shopping early and cut coupons first so your brain is in savings mode.

 Cut coupons weekly from newspapers or print online for products you will use.  If you don’t use a product, purchasing it at a reduced price is still spending money unnecessarily.  Check store websites for additional coupons to be used on your products.  A helpful website for coupon tutorials and help with matching coupons to weekly sales (taking the work out of the process for you) is  Check this site for weekly sale information by store for the easiest list of bottom dollar pricing and coupon usage tips.  It also gives printable list by store for savings.  SO EASY!

You may find it helpful to use a filing system to keep unused coupons handy and organized.  Once you’ve examined weekly circulars for current sale items, match cut coupons against the circulars to formulate your list.  For example, this week at CVS, Eucerin lotion is on sale.  Allyson printed a store coupon from CVS for dollars off lotion products.  She will pair this with a coupon specifically for Eucerin.  Lastly, CVS offers rewards card users an extra dollar amount rebate of sorts in “Extra Bucks” savings on Eucerin purchases.  The lotion will be greatly reduced if not free using these combined savings. 


Allyson uses this technique for savings on most purchases.  This does not happen overnight as she spent time researching her sales and collecting coupons, sometimes a couple of weeks early, in preparation for purchases.  She recently sent a care package to her son at college with shipping being the most expensive item for the package.  She weekly shops to maximize savings, however her routine sales receipts often look like this!

Couponing takes time, but can offer substantial savings to the thoughtful and organized shopper.  The effort can be minimal to see a reduced cost on everyday items.   Thanks to Allyson Warriner for walking us through her process.  Please comment below about your coupon stories or tips you’d like to share!

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