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Have you ever watched Extreme Couponing and wondered how they do that? You may have seen those people go to the store and walk out with a $1,000+ haul that cost them only $25 bucks or somewhere around there. What the show doesn’t tell you is that that isn’t a normal occurrence for those couponers. They prepared for that trip especially for the show. But of course, after seeing them get so much stuff for so cheap it makes you want to try it, doesn’t it? You think of all the things you could have and all the money you could save. So you get excited about it, then have no idea where to begin. Or maybe you do, but you feel you may be missing something.

Here are some tips to help you get the best out of your couponing and to maximize your savings:

Tips to get you on your way to saving money while grocery shopping!

  • ALWAYS check your store policies before you plan your shopping trip! I have a section in my binder where I have print-offs of the stores I frequent just in case the cashier has any confusion. You may find yourself in the checkout lane with a lot of stuff you don’t want to buy if you aren’t properly prepared.
  • Be organized! Invest in a binder and some baseball card holders with labels so that you can organize your coupons into groups so that you can find them easily when you are shopping. I have a tab on my Facebook page that shows you how my binder is set up and other ways I organize.
  • Look for Buy One, Get One free (BOGO) items. You can use a coupon for each item, even if it is going to be for free. I have found that this is the best way to get great savings. I have gotten many items for free because of this.
  • Smaller coupons are better if your store has a limit on doubling. Most places that I’ve encountered in the Southeast won’t double over $1.
  • Take note if your coupon says Do Not Double on it. Another way you can tell if it will double or not is if the bar code number starts with a 5 or 9. 9 means it won’t and 5 means it will, unless stated otherwise or if it exceeds the amount your store will allow. A lot of the new bar codes no longer have these as coupons are now being created to where they can’t be misused.
  • To help with your shopping trip, browse through the circulars online (or from your recent newspaper) and write out what you plan to buy that trip and how much it will cost you. Sometimes it’s best to plan a long trip so that you can wander through the store to see what other sales they have. They don’t always post all of their sales online.
  • Also, if your coupon limits the number of like items, be prepared to have multiple transactions.
  • To get a good stockpile you will have to figure out the best way for you to gather multiple coupons. The cheapest and easiest way is to dumpster dive! It doesn’t cost anything but time. I spend about 30-45 minutes a trip once a week and I usually come out with approximately 60+ inserts. And you’ll find that a lot of people DON’T clip coupons. You can also visit your neighbors to see if they have inserts they don’t want.
  • Always bring your binder/accordian with all of your coupons in case you find something on sale that you didn’t expect.
  • A lot of stores will no longer pay you for overages nor will they put the amount towards your basket. Some do, but again this is a matter of learning your store policies. Overages can really help you to purchase items you don’t have coupons for like meat or produce.
  • Make sure you acquire your coupons from a trustworthy source. Directly from a newspaper is best!
  • Follow an “extreme” couponer online. There are many out there who post match-ups for great deals on a daily basis. This way you don’t have to do as much work!
  • Subscribe to sundaycouponpreview.com to receive an update of what coupons to expect in the following Sunday paper. This will help you to be prepared for your next shopping trip and to hopefully get there before the shelves are cleared by others (it happens often).
  • Always be honest in your couponing.
What the others don’t tell you:
  • You have to go to different stores to get deals on different things. I always liked going to Walmart for my shopping trips because they had everything in one place and their prices were low. Little did I know that there were things I could get elsewhere for even cheaper…or FREE. I used Bi-Lo for groceries, Walgreens for my toilet paper and Walmart for toiletries and other items.
  • The couponers you see on TV usually took a long time to build their stockpiles. They usually invest 60+ hours a week to clipping and researching to prepare for their “hauls.” Be patient and expect it to take at least 6 months to have a decent sized stockpile.
  • Most of what couponers purchase are not your typical groceries. In order to buy things like meat (which there usually aren’t coupons for), you have to accrue “overages” from using coupons that exceed the price of the item. But, once again you have to find out if your store will allow that.

Everything I have written is based on my experience as a couponer. I decided to amp it up in April 2011 and gained a very nice stockpile in just a matter of months. Start with smaller trips then work your way up and you will begin to feel very accomplished when your savings begins to increase!

You can visit my Facebook page to see some of my hauls and to view more tips there:

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