Extreme Couponing Tips for everyday shoppers!

DSCN1032[1]So if you know me in real life, you know that I LOATHE that TLC show. It’s crazy, and most most reality shows, it bears little semblance to reality. So I was stoked when it was cancelled! But like most things in life, it lives on in re-run and of course, on the internet!

What I don’t like about that show is that most of the stores show double coupons, when in real life (esp. in CA), there are very few stores that do.

That being said, I wanted to share some tips with you that will help you get the most bang for your shopping buck.  You *could* call them, my Extreme couponing tips. I can’t promise that you’ll walk away with 115 mustards or 7,000 toothbrushes gratis, but you might have a little more than you have before.

  1. Shop at a store that allows overage (click on that link for more info about how to use overage and what it is). In my area, the only store that allows overage is Wal-mart.
  2. Sale Price+ Coupon=rock bottom price.  About 99% of the time, during the dates a coupon is valid, the item will be on sale. Wait until the item is on sale, then use your coupon.  You’ll be saving a lot  more.
  3. Buy Multiples: It’s great that you are able to combine the sale price with a coupon, but the real ticket to savings is buying more than 1 of the same item.  That means you’ll need multiple coupons. You can either purchase multiple Sunday papers or do what I do: trade coupons with friends and family. A lot of people don’t understand buying more than 1 items on sale with a coupon.  If the item is something you use frequently (for example, salsa) and you are able to get 5 jars for .50/jar, and they are usually $2.50/jar, why wouldn’t you buy 5 for the price of 1?  Just keep the rest in the cupboard, and use them as needed.  If you were to only buy one, use it then head back to the store, you’d be paying full price.
  4. Get a grocery store Club Card for each supermarket you shop, and pick up a CVS Extra Care Card. The cards entitle you to discounts on merchandise or an accumulation or points or special rewards for buying specific merchandise. Club cards are also referred to as a loyalty card, a rewards card, a points card, or an advantage card. Most stores have a Club Card, check with your local supermarket. These cards are free to apply for and use.  Club Cards typically have a barcode or magnetic stripe (like a credit card) that can be easily scanned. Cards are issued after you fill out the application. Many times the card is linked to your phone number. If you forget you card at home, give the cashier you phone number, and you are still entitled to the same discounts and card advantages as if you had presented your card.
  5. Build up a stockpile of items you use frequently: The sales cycle for most items is 3-4 months. If you are able to buy the items that your household uses the most on sale with coupons, you should buy enough to get you through until the next sale.  That means never having to pay full price again. I recommend doing an inventory of your stockpile and keeping a checklist inside your pantry door.
  6. Be Organized!  I don’t throw away my coupon inserts after I clip what I want.  I keep them in a plastic file box, organized by week.  If an item goes on sale and there is a corresponding coupon, I can quickly find my coupons and clip. 
  7. Buy the smallest/cheapest sized item allowed with the coupon. It can result in overage. Here is a great example: A few years ago, Lisa over at Drugstore Divas clued us in on a John Freida hairspray deal and I was able to pick up some free groceries, including fruit and veggies with the overage I received.
  8. Use your Google-fu! Find out what is free or better than free (aka a Money maker) by googling “what is free at (insert name of store) (current Month and year)”. Paul over at I Heart The Mart has an awesome list of items at Walmart for $1 or less. Many other websites/blogs do as well.
  9. Use a Coupon Database to locate coupons in inserts when you see a deal online that mentions a coupon, but not which date or which insert the coupon comes from.  I like Couponmom’s Coupon Database– it’s separated by state!
  10. Once you are ready to go, be organized. I make my list by store, by aisle. ut your coupons in order. Attach them to your list, and print a fresh copy of the store’s coupon policy too. When I arrive at the store, I go up and down every aisle. I am always keeping my eyes peeled for unadvertised sales, mark downs, tear pad coupons, blinkie coupon machines. If nothing else, it’s good exercise pushing a shopping cart around!
  11. My personal favorite method to save money is to take your shopping list to the 99-Cent or $1.00 store and see what you can score for less.  99 Cents Only does not accept coupons, but Dollar Tree does. You’d be surprised what you can buy for only 99 cents or $1.00! I buy Lil’ Man’s name brand Soy Milk by the Case at 99 Cents Only and I save $2.00 per QUART over shopping at Ralphs. That’s a total savings of $20.00 a week, or $1040 per year!
  12. Don’t be frazzled! It’s ok. Stuff happens, coupons don’t scan, you get a surly cashier. If the coupon won’t go through, don’t be afraid to have the cashier take the item(s) off your order. Don’t be afraid to speak up and ask for a manager.
  13. Don’t forget sales tax!! In CA, you have to pay sales tax on taxable items, even if they are free after coupon. It’s lame, but true.

What are your Ultimate tricks and tips for “extreme” savings?

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