I have been doing quite abit of research on how to do the best with my coupons. Here are just a few things that have been on my mind.
First of all do not think that you will be able to go into a store with a bunch of coupons for an item that is on sale and get them all for free like on the show Extreme Couponing. They order ahead for that show so there is enough product on hand plus the stores bend their own coupon policies a bit so that all the coupons ring through. Make sure you check out your stores coupon policy. Do they double or triple coupons? If they do, up to what amount do they double or triple. Also is there a limit to how many they will double or triple and how many like coupons will they double or triple. Even if you think you know your store's policy it is a good idea to check it again and maybe even print it out. Some stores are changing their policies in retaliation to the Extreme Couponing show so be informed.
Be ethical couponers!!! Don't commit coupon fraud. Make sure you use your coupons for the correct item, correct size and quantity (there is an accusation against one of featured people on the show of coupon fraud). Don't empty the shelves just because you have coupons for something. On the show one lady is shown clearing the shelves of an item that nobody in her family really even liked. Leave some for other people. Sales usually run in 12 week cycles so keep that in mind when buying things. Will your family really go through 40 deodorants in 12 weeks? Think of other people that want to get in on the deal too. I try not to buy the last of a product even if I do have a coupon for it (I will take the last one if it is the only one available). Some people use coupon clipping services, I am not to sure if this is legit as all coupons state that they are void if bought or sold. Also if a store turns in a bunch of coupons that have been "gang cut" (cut at the same time) the mf can turn down the redeemption of them. My rule if I can't cut it myself I don't need it. Just me, You need to make up your own minds about what you think.
Don't steal the coupons out of papers in the store!! This past weekend we bought two papers and neither one had coupons in them so we took them back. The clerk at the store said that there were no coupons in any of the papers that they had, different papers all had the coupons taken out of them.
Share your stockpile. I have only been doing this full force for about a month now and I have already started getting a bit of a stockpile. I am at a level where I am comfortable in the area of toothpaste and toothbrushes, as an example, but I still will pick up those items if I can get them for free or cheap. I then will rotate my stock and put however many that I bought aside to donate to a local homeless shelter. We hope to be able to donate a small bit every month. I am going to be picking up baby items also to donate. A local drugstore had a good deal on formula recently and I could have gotten some to donate but I hadn't cut out the coupons. I will be eyeing my coupons differently from now on and cutting those that I can use for donation items. Along the same lines as I mentioned above, just because you are getting something for donation don't clear shelves, maybe the next person wants to buy some for a donation also, you never know.
My total amount that I have listed in sidebar is really misleading. I use store loyalty cards, coupons, and rewards printed on the end of my receipts to reach that number. Last week I bought $65 worth of product and payed .75 cents. Now that really wasn't all coupons. I used sales, coupons, reward coupons, survey rewards and store coupons. I need to replenish my reward coupons so my percentage won't be that great this week but next week I should be able to roll the savings.
I don't do all the coupon matchups myself. There are plenty of websites that do all the work for you. I haven't found to many that have the grocery stores in our area but there are matchups for the drugstores, Target, Walmart, KMart etc. Some sites that I like are Couponing to Disney , Coupon Mom, and A Full cup. There are even some videos on Youtube that take you though the stores and show you all the deals.
Organization. One things about couponing, organization is the key. Most of the people recommend having a coupon binder and there are even tutorials both on blogs and youtube on how to make your own. I started one but I started to find for me that it got to be to much work. So I switched to using envelopes. I have envelopes for each category and an envelope for each store ( I keep them in a plastic bin that I bought for $1) . When I cut out my coupons I file them in the envelope until I am ready to match (I also put them in order of expiration so I am sure to use the ones that expire first). On Sunday's I cut and file my coupons then make out my list for RiteAid and pull any coupons I have for this store (I always try to go to Rite Aid on Monday Mornings close to their opening time). Monday I make out my grocery lists (I go to two different stores) and I have just started making out lists for Walgreen's and CVS. Since we get paid every two weeks I only do this every other week. The off week I will go if I can get really good deals and can pay for most of the purchase with coupons and rewards etc. Little out of pocket. Anyway, after I make out my lists I pull any coupons I need and then put the list and the coupons in the store envelope. Then on Tuesday I make out my menu for the two weeks make note of any special things that might be coming up (like in the next two weeks our church is having a picnic and Memorial Day ) I keep in mind what I already have in my pantry/freezer and what is on sale. I then add anything I need to my grocery list (I add them to the grocery store that gives me the most gas rewards so my total will be more there). Then on my way home from work on Thursday morning I do all my grocery shopping and drugstore shopping. I am going to start putting a cooler in my trunk to put my cold stuff in because the weather is getting warmer. All together this probably takes me about three hours of prep time before shopping , that's about 1 1/2 hrs a week. But last week I made 43.33 for that time (in savings). It probably takes me anywhere from 1/2hr to 45 minutes in each grocery store for shopping. The drugstores no more that 15 minutes. So about 2 1/2 hrs shopping every two weeks. So for 5 1/5 hours of time My savings was 64.57 an hour. Not a bad total. I know that alot of people don't have that much time to devote to couponing. I know some people have more time. I think though any thing you do is great because you are saving money.
What to do with all the expired coupons? I have only been doing this for abut a month like I stated before but already I have a bunch of coupons that will be expiring before our next pay. I didn't want to throw them away because I feel like I am throughing away money. Did you know that the military bases take donations of expired coupons (cannot be over 6 months)? Go Here to adopt a base. Make sure you adopt one that is available. I plan on sending all my coupons at least once a month.
To wrap up this already too long post. I have made a deal with myself. I am not going to become obsessed with this whole thing. I am not going to become a hoarder. I will be happy with myself if i am able to print one coupon or email for one free sample a day. I figure that even alittle adds up to alot. I plan on writing a few more posts in the future about some more specific things.
Have a Great Day!!