Coupon Basics: Combining and Maximizing

The first two articles in the Coupon basics series explained the different types of coupons and offered a rundown of the different values that these coupons can have. With that basic knowledge, and these pro tips, you can start combining deals to make the most of your coupon savings.

Couponing

More coupons mean more savings, so the first way to get the most for your money is to get your hands on as many coupons as possible. Subscribe to multiple newspapers, ask friends and family to save their coupons for you and scour the Internet for printable coupons. Be sure to sign up for free store savings clubs, membership cards and email or mailing lists so you can have coupons delivered right to you. If you’re concerned about spam, set up a second email account just for email lists and check it before you shop.

Next, get organized. Keep your coupons in one place, in a way that makes the most sense to you. Whether it’s a binder, a file folder or a series of plastic snack bags, you need to know what you have, what they’re good for and when they expire. Consult your coupons when making your shopping list, and then stick to the list as your thread through the aisles. With an organized arsenal and a plan of attack, you’ll be making the most effective use of your coupons and your shopping trip.

The easiest way to maximize your coupon savings is to combine them with in-store sales. If you’ve got a “$1 off” coupon for a $4 product, you’re looking at getting that product for $3. If the store has that $4 product on sale for $3 tomorrow, you could wait and get that same $4 product for just $2. Be sure to check store flyers and compare prices at the stores in your area to make sure you’re getting the best possible deal with your manufacturer coupons.

Many stores offer a double or triple coupon promotion for manufacturer coupons. While some stores will double, or even triple, coupons on a regular basis, others only offer the deal on certain days or in certain business hours. Additionally, most stores will only multiply coupons up to a certain maximum value, and may limit the number of identical coupons you can double. Be sure to check with your local store before you start calculating your double and triple coupon savings, and make sure your coupon is not labeled “do not double.”

Before using a coupon for a specific product, always look at the comparable products nearby. If you’re using coupons to pay $7 for a brand name product, and the store brand product with identical ingredients is regularly $6 anyway, you’re better off skipping the coupons and just getting the cheaper product.

If you’ve ever examined the fine print before, you’ve probably seen these two common warnings: “Cannot be combined with other offers” and “one coupon per person, per order.” Don’t be discouraged! If you’re unafraid to bring a friend or get back at the end of the line, you can get around these restrictions and save even more.

The most important thing to remember about couponing is that “saving” and “needing” aren’t synonymous. Just because you’ve got a coupon for a product, doesn’t mean that you need to buy it. Spending money on a product you don’t need or won’t use is a waste, no matter how good the deal. Save the money for something you can’t get on sale to make all that clipping and coordinating worthwhile. Happy Couponing!