Basic Principles of Extreme Couponing:
- Shop what’s on SALE and in season, and plan your meals around those items. If you simply do this step, you can save a significant amount of money off your grocery bill.
- Understand the Sale Cycles. Each item that we purchase has a sale cycle. Each week the price of the item will fluctuate between a high point and a low point. We want to buy that item when it hits it LOW price. Our sale cycles typically run around every 12 weeks, and they repeat. Be patient. Not everything will go on sale at the same time. You may find a deal on pasta this week, but you might have to wait a week or two for a deal on the sauce.
- Use COUPONS on those Sale Items, to boost your savings. Couponing is all about TIMING. Just because you have a coupon for an item, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it will make for a great deal, even after your coupon. The idea is to pair a COUPON with a SALE. This makes for a rock bottom price.
- STOCK UP on items that you use when they reach this rock bottom price. Ideally, you want to buy enough to last you until the next sale cycle rolls around (about 12 weeks). A stockpile is relative. My stockpile for a family of 7, will look much different than a 2-person household. For instance, I use 1 bottle of laundry detergent per week. Other households may only use 1 bottle per month. You don’t have to go crazy and buy 100 bottles of mustard to stash under your bed. Simply buy a few extra items (that you actually use) while they are at their low price, so that you don’t have to pay full price next week.
- Replenish Once you have a stockpile, the next phase is just about replacing stock. The next time your item goes on sale, review your stockpile to see how many items you have used. If you have only used 1 of that item from your stockpile by the time that sale comes back, you only need to buy 1. This is when you will really start to see a change in your grocery bill!
- Use the technology available! Right here on this site, I offer FREE Coupon Matchups, every week. The entire sale circular has been married up with all of the available coupons to use for each item. The leg work has already been done for you, you just need to make your shopping list.
- Subscribe to the Sunday Newspaper. The Sunday newspaper is still the best source for coupons. (Check out this deal on the LA Times HERE or other local newspapers HERE). Don’t be afraid to ask for a discount if you subscribe to more than 1 copy per week. A good rule of thumb is to consider getting 1 newspaper for each member of your household. This will allow you to have more coupons so you can purchase more than one item during a sale (to build your stockpile). If you subscribe to 4 copies, you will have 4 of each coupon offered that week. Meaning, you will be able to purchase 4 bottles of shampoo at its rock-bottom price, instead of just one.
- Printable Coupons. There are several sources for printable coupons. I have links right here on this site under the Coupons tab at the top. (The biggest and best source for printable coupons is Coupons.com.) The only downside to printable coupons is that they limit you to 2 prints per computer. They are also limited as to how many are available. Once that limit has been reached, they are gone. This is a great way to get a couple of extra coupons if you are trying to build up a stockpile.
- Digital Coupons. Several stores offer digital coupons on their website. These can be loaded directly to your store shopper cards and they will come off your bill automatically at checkout. This is a great option for those that don’t have time to clip. One thing to mention on these is that if you have a paper coupon that’s a higher value than the digital, you probably don’t want to load the digital coupon, as it will trump your paper coupon. You can NOT use both a digital coupon and a paper coupon on the same item.
- Get Organized! Make your shopping list and clip your coupons before you head to the store. Make yourself familiar with the store’s coupon acceptance policy. Also be sure to read your coupons to find out if there are any restrictions on them. For instance, today I purchased (2) bottle of Suave Professionals shampoo. These were on sale for $1.99 and I had coupons for $1.50 off 1 bottle. A $0.49 price is a great deal on this product. Unfortunately, the coupon has a limitation on it that only allows 2 identical coupons to be used in a shopping trip.
- Be Patient. Couponing is like a sport. You get better with practice. Start small at the store you usually shop, before you try to chase down every deal. Have FUN with it. A small savings is still SAVINGS.