Avid coupon clipper, discount sleuth, savings checker, and bargain hunter.
How to save money on groceries and other goods
Super couponing, also known as extreme couponing, involves combining store sales with manufacturer coupons, rebates, and other promotions. The concept was popularized on Extreme Couponing, a show produced back in 2011 by the TLC network. Sites like Krazy Coupon Lady also feature and discuss how to extreme coupon. In some cases, super couponers even make money on their purchases, since the amount of money saved through coupons can occasionally exceed the value of the purchased items (although some stores only allow couponers to get charged zero dollars for their purchases, not to make additional money).
When starting on the path towards saving money through coupons, extreme couponing can seem quite daunting. There are various store circulars to track, as well as publications which post weekly manufacturer coupons. There are online sites that offer store loyalty card coupons, store-only coupons, and unique online coupons. Stores may have different rules regarding the use of coupons, from limiting their number to amount doubled to amount saved. Luckily, there are online sites that help you organize your coupons and find out which store is carrying a particular promotion. Here are the steps that can help you tackle the sometimes overwhelming task of extreme couponing:
Step 1: Buy a Sunday newspaper
To begin the process of super couponing, you could purchase or otherwise obtain a Sunday newspaper that contains circulars from coupon sites such as Redplum, Smartsource, P&G, General Mills, etc. These circulars are printed on glossy paper and are usually tucked inside of the newspaper. Because many folks will purchase a newspaper just for its coupons, many newspapers have begun the practice of enclosing coupon inserts in plastic. The Chicago Tribune, for example, encloses its Redplum and Smartsource circulars in plastic (along with other store circulars and coupons). Not all coupon circulars are released every Sunday. In the case of Redplum and Smartsource, the circulars come out on a weekly basis; however, P&G, General Mills, and others do not. Thus, to really get the maximum benefit from using coupons, you would need to purchase or obtain a Sunday newspaper for several Sundays in a row.
One thing to keep in mind about buying Sunday papers from a news stand is that, quite often, these papers may not contain your expected coupons! This occurs because the coupon circulars are preferentially inserted into subscription-based newspapers. One those circulars have been passed out, then the "free standing" newspaper receive whatever coupon circulars are left over. When all the circulars have been passed out, no new circulars are printed. Thus, you may become quite dismayed after paying $3 for a thick Sunday newspaper only to find out that your it does not contain the expected coupons. Overall, if you are going to go all out and use coupons on a regular basis, consider getting a subscription to your area newspaper.
Step 2: Clip your coupons
Once you have your coupon circulars in hand, clip out those coupons that appeal to you and that you would be sure to use. You don't need to cut out and use every coupon, nor should you start buying items simply because you have a coupon for them. However, if you do end up purchasing an item through a coupon for little or no money and you know that you won't be using this item, consider donating it to charity.
Once you have all your coupons clipped, consider organizing them into separate envelopes or even tucking them into the pages of a coupon binder. Otherwise, it will be difficult to know just which coupons you have on hand when you arrive at the grocery store. There are binders made especially to hold coupons that you can buy through Amazon, for example. These will serve you well once you are trying to find your coupons in a grocery store and also trying to avoid spilling all your coupons over the grocery store floor.
Step 3: Find online coupons and app discounts
The magic of super couponing isn't just about using one discount on a given item; rather, it's using multiple coupons and discounts to save 50% or more on your grocery store bill. As such, you should also go online to download and print coupons.
CouponMom posts weekly alerts about store sales, store coupons, and manufacturer coupons. If you are wondering which store has the best discount on a particular item, CouponMom is the place to go. Coupons.com is another great resource for online coupons, allowing you to clip the coupons that you want and then print them from your printer.
The only issue with online coupon sites is that you usually need to download a special coupon printer before you can print coupons. These coupon printers often install an additional toolbar to your browser and slow down your surfing capacity. There are ways to disable these printers when they're not in use, but having them on your computer means that some of your computer's hard drive is devoted to their upkeep. If possible, it may be best to devote an older computer to be the "printer" for your online coupons.
Another good source for online coupons is the store loyalty card coupon loader. Such a loader requires only that you supply your store loyalty card code; you then select your desired coupons and load them directly onto the card. At checkout, your loaded coupons are activated when your loyalty card is given to the cashier for scanning; however, your actual savings are not deducted from your total at that time. Instead, a separate online account on that loyalty card site tabulates your savings. Once you reach a given amount of savings, you are sent a check or the funds are deposited into your Paypal account.
Savingstar is available online or as an app and features unique coupons that are usually not available anywhere else. Best of all, if you use Savingstar, you could end up actually making money from all of your product discounts. Making money on purchases is typically not allowed via traditional grocery store policies; however, with a site like Savingstar, you could pay $0 on your groceries and still make a few extra bucks by using additional Savingstar discounts.
Ibotta has been around since 2012 and offers discounts on groceries, household items, online vendors like eBay and Groupon, and even brick-and-mortar stores like Home Depot and Walmart. These discounts are provided as a monetary credit to your Ibotta account after you scan you receipt or use your pre-loaded store loyalty card. Ibotta is available online and as a smartphone app. With Ibotta, you can even score freebie items at times, or make money on some purchases.
Step 4: Organize your online and paper coupons
As you collect more and more coupons, you will find that some of your coupons coincide with store sales, other coupons coincide with other coupons, and some coupons expire before the end of the week. Likewise, stores change their sale items on a weekly basis, rotating sales every four to six weeks. In order to combine all store sales with all clipped coupons, you will need to organize your coupons virtually. This way, you can easily draw them up whenever you see a particular store item on sale and wonder if you have a coupon to match (as opposed to shuffling through mountains of coupons).
While some folks have created their own coupon databases to track coupons online and match them to grocery store sales, there are plenty of databases already out there and at your disposal. CouponMom offers one of the best coupon databases, called the Virtual Coupon Organizer. This Organizer, which also goes by the name of the Grocery Coupon Database, compiles weekly coupons released by product manufacturers and stores. By using this Database, you can quickly find out if one of your circulars contains a coupon for a desired item.
CouponMom doesn't stop there, however. The site also offers a Grocery Deals by State software tool that allows you to check out grocery store sales and rebates alongside coinciding coupons for your home state. The tool will also alert you if any of your coupons are soon expiring. And if a coupon to store sale match is located, the program will even calculate how much total money you can save. In many cases, you end up paying nothing- or even making money on the product (via combined coupons, rebates and store discounts).
You will also need to organize our paper coupons; otherwise, you will spend a lot of time at the store trying to sort through coupons and to match them with product sales. Most supercouponers use a zipped coupon organizer or wallet to store their coupons and then use that item for easy coupon access during their shopping trips. They will use the plastic insert pages included with most organizers to insert, categorize and store the coupons. For example, a typical supercouponer may have an organizer section dedicated solely to coupons for laundry detergent that will be marked as "Laundry". Another extreme couponer may have a section dedicated to produce items.
Not all coupon organizers or wallets will contain the same coupons, and not all organizers will be the same size or shape. Take a look at the following coupon organizers to get an idea of what you might use for your own future grocery shopping trip. The bottom line, however, is that if you don't organize your coupons in some way, you risk spending hours of time in the grocery store fumbling for your coupons. Likewise, you also risk losing your coupons or spilling them all over the grocery store floor. And if there is a windy day outside, all your coupons may just fly away!
Step 5: Shop on Double Days
Many grocery stores double the value of manufacturer coupons on a given day of the week. In many cases, this day is Wednesday, but it can also be Saturday. Some stores will limit the amount of coupons that can be doubled or their doubling value (e.g., up to $1), but other stores don't impose any coupon doubling limits. Double coupons allow you, the shopper, to essentially save an extra 100% on what your coupons would've allowed, so it pays to take advantage of that double coupon day.
Not all stores advertise whether they have a double coupon day. Luckily, there are online tools that can help you to figure this out. Here is a list of double coupon stores by state. Likewise, the following site also lists stores by state that offer to double coupons.
It does take some time and effort to super coupon. You must be willing to try new products and to plan your meals ahead of time so that you can take advantage of current sales and promotions. Not all of your desired items will be on sale at the same time, so it's essential that you track store promotions and purchase additional items when they do go on sale. Finally, shopping itself will take longer, from arranging your shopping trip ahead of time to finding all the sales and deals while in-store to making sure that your coupons are scanned correctly at the cash register. However, if you keep at it, your grocery savings can be quite substantial. Saving money on your everyday and household goods will free up a significant chunk of your cash for paying off bills, saving for college or a vacation, or doing just about anything else you can imagine.
Sarah Johnson from Charleston, South Carolina on December 10, 2011:
Great hub! I think we share the same couponing philosophy! Cool that SavingStar stopped by! Voted UP.
SavingStar on November 16, 2011:
Thanks for posting about us! Just to make it easy for folks, our website is https://savingstar.com
MarloByDesign from United States on November 07, 2011:
I really like your Hub topic, however, if I can give you a little feedback, I think you need section headings throughout the Hub to break it up a little. Great topic!
Mistyvermin969 from Los Angeles on November 06, 2011:
Haha my dad is obsessed with this stuff lol!
Great hub continue to write and i am now following you (-: