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Thursday, September 4, 2014

Coupon Tips, Tricks, and Secrets for Beginners

Ok I'm going to lay it all out on the table for you here and now. Here is everything I know about couponing I wish I would have known about long ago. Disclaimer: I am not the crazy couponers you see on TLC getting thousands of products for free that I stock up in my basement that I would never even use before they expire. If you are one of those people, you are talented and way more patient than I am so props to you. I am a quick and dirty couponer (My conversation with myself: "Is that a real thing?" "No, but you can totally make it up." "That could definitely be taken the wrong way." "Who knew you could question that morals of a coupon blog post.")

Now that you have heard the inner musings of my head, let's get to the good stuff. Here are 7 secrets I use to get the most out of coupons:

1. Let other people do the dirty work for you:  Utilize coupon blogs and websites for current deals and offers so you don't spend hours figuring everything out on your own. I know when I first got the itch to coupon, I tried to sit down with a stack of coupon books, store ads, and scissors and before I knew it I was on my way to get a Dr. Pepper and a Reece's to cure my headache. No saving here. Now what I do is head to my personal favorite blog The Krazy Coupon Lady to see what deals are effective with which coupons at which stores. Take a look and you will never coupon the same again, trust me. There are plenty of other sites as well so be on the look out and bookmark your favorites. 

2. Never throw away the "junk" ads in the mail: I know it's tempting to toss a big stack of junk mail, but make sure you look through all the ads to grab out your coupon books. I know here in Vegas I get about 2 coupon books a week and sometimes I dig through the recycling bin at my apartment mail area to pick up a few more (shhhh don't tell anyone). This way you never have to even buy a paper if you don't currently have a subscription. You can just save with what your mailman gave ya. 

3. Cut every day: Every time you get the mail, grab a pair of scissors and start going to town on the coupon books. It only takes me a few minutes to flip through, cut what I know I will actually use at stores I currently shop at. Let me make sure and emphasize, only cut out things you know you currently buy. If you buy shampoo (hopefully you do) then it's safe to say you can cut out a shampoo coupon. It may be a new brand, but that's why it's fun since you get to try new things for a good deal. 

4. Put them in your wallet immediately: The thought of the coupon at the store won't help you out much unless you actually have them with you. No matter what personality is, if you keep them in your wallet at all times, you will have them with you when you shop. I have planned many coupon shopping trips and had my stack of coupons on my desk in a neat array, and then somehow ended up at target without them. This is no bueno. 

5. Make a shopping list: I don't know about you, but sometimes when I have a big stack of coupons and the store is busy I get anxiety and I'm flipping through my coupons and my brain starts to hurt. I now make a shopping list and note what items I have coupons for so I can make sure I get the right product listed on the coupon. It's much easier to make note of everything rather than scramble in the middle of the laundry isle with all the babies and children screaming around you.

6. Double up manufacture and store coupons: I know I know, things are getting crazy. But really this is a simple coupon rule. At most stores, if they offer their own store coupons, they will double up with a manufacture coupon. For example if target had a tide laundry detergent coupon for $2 you could only use at target, you could also use a manufacturers coupon on the same product. Double the savings! If both coupons were worth $2 off, that's $4 in savings!

7. Look for clearance items to pair with coupons: A common misconception is that you can't use coupons with clearance items. Take a look at your store's coupon policy, but I have in most cases been able to use coupons with clearance items. That's a double score!

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