My fascination with couponing is fairly new – a few weeks ago, I mentioned the Coupon Diva as an example of someone to emulate. I’ve learned quite a bit since then, which I’ll be happy to share with you.
Most frugal-minded folks may find this boring, but as my wife and co-workers will tell you, most of the general public doesn’t have a clue. We are missing out on hundreds of dollars of free savings because we think we lack the time and skills to coupon effectively.
Au contraire, my friends. You can learn the skills in minutes, and the time investment is minimal.
An Essential Skill: Doubling Up
One of the first and easiest couponing skills to learn is doubling up. What am I talking about? A brief definition:
Doubling Up: Using a manufacturer’s coupon in combination with a store coupon and/or sale, to create multiple layers of savings and minimize out-of-pocket spending.
Sounds Complicated? A Simple Example:
Let’s suppose the regular price of a box of cereal is $3.99.
You purchase the Sunday paper and discover a coupon for your favorite brand that will give you $1.50 off that box anytime in the next 2 months.
If you get excited and use the coupon immediately, you’ll get the box for $2.49 – not a bad deal.
But you’re smart, and you know that supermarket sales rotate and your cereal is likely to go on sale in the next 2 months. So you wait. And wait. And then…
The cereal goes BOGO (short for buy one-get one free). Many stores won’t really make you buy two – they’ll just scan each at ½ the price (quick math – that’s $1.99).
So you walk into the supermarket proudly, get one box for $1.99, and use your coupon.
You just got a $4 box of cereal for 49 cents!! (Can you believe it?) That’s 12% of the original price! By doubling up, you saved 88%. Now, that’s even better than all the “going out of business sales” I’ve been to lately.
Doesn’t This Take Time?
Sure, when you first get going at any new skill, there’s a learning curve. But I promise you this one is short, and the savings are well-worth it.
Your only required tools are the Sunday paper and a little bit of time. Having a coupon organizer helps, but don’t run out and buy one for $50. You can figure out a frugal way to organize the mess of coupons you’ll be clipping out.
That’s it! Learn to monitor your store sales and compare them to your coupons.
Where there’s a need, there’s a blog. Couponing is no different and a number of fantastic resources exist that are a Google search away. Some even take the most time-consuming part of the work (comparing sales to coupons) and do it for you!
Here are a few:
- Swag Grabber – Rundown of ongoing sales and new coupons, and not only for grocery stores.
- Hot Coupon World Coupon Generator – If clipping coupons is not your thing, you can print them instead.
- Coupons.com – Printable grocery coupons.
- The Grocery Game – A paid service. I haven’t tried it, but it’s worth looking into if you’re serious about this.