Coupon guide

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Coupon guide
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Coupons are the kind of low-hanging fruit that I really encourage you to grab because it’s so easy. Here’s a step-by-step guide that explains how to do it. Be sure to see my list of free mobile apps for couponing too!

1. Buy three copies of the Sunday newspaper. You want the glossy RedPlum and SmartSource coupon circulars. As an alternative, you can always visit RedPlum.com and SmartSource.com to print coupons for free. And you may be able to find free Spanish language newspapers in your town that have the inserts. (Be sure to leave copies for others too!)

2. Know how to maximize your coupons. Once you’ve gathered all your coupons, it’s time to figure out how to maximize them. Visit a site like CouponMom.com that breaks down the weekly sales by state and explains which coupon to use where and when for maximum savings. 

3. Know your prices. I recommend tracking the prices of your top 10 items for a month and a half or so. If you know the regular prices of your 10 most common purchases at local stores, then you’ll really know when to stock up on something when it goes on sale. If you have a coupon at that point, so much the better!

4. Be flexible. Brand loyalty will cost you money. If you have a coupon for a brand you’re not familiar with, why not give it a try and see if you like it? You may be surprised.

5. Know your store’s policy. Some grocers will double manufacturer’s coupons up to 50 cents every day and others will actually accept competitors’ coupons. So a coupon worth 50 cents could be actually be more valuable to you than a coupon worth 75 cents, if your grocery store will double the first coupon.

6. Sign up for your store’s loyalty program. If you’re willing to trade a little bit of privacy, you can enjoy automatic download of coupons; organization of your shopping list based on the layout of a particular store; and customized deals specific to your shopping patterns.

Check out these free coupon apps!

Coupons aren’t just silly little strips of paper anymore. Today you can get deals and coupons right on your smartphone at the click of a button. Try playing around with these free apps to get started:

  • Cellfire.com – Sends coupons directly to your loyalty cards.
  • Coupons.com – Add grocery and drugstore coupons to your store loyalty cards and automatically save when you use them at the register.
  • Favado.com – Aggregates sales data for your local grocery, drug, and big box stores. Compare and save up to 70% on everyday items.
  • GroceryIQ.com – Create and organize grocery lists quickly and easily.
  • Ibotta.com – Earn cash every time you go shopping.
  • KeyringApp.com – Digitizes all your loyalty cards and stores them on a smartphone so you never have to fumble for the physical cards again.
  • OutofMilk.com – Keep track of your shopping needs and your pantry’s inventory, and manage your to-do list items.
  • RedLaser.com – Barcode and QR code scanner helps you comparison shop millions of purchases.
  • SavingStar.com – Get grocery and food coupons, which convert into store savings or actual cash back.

Getting coupons for natural and organic foods

1. Contact the manufacturer directly. If there’s a brand you particularly like, consider writing them an email or a letter to express your appreciation for their product and ask about coupons. Some people I’ve talked to say they’ve scored coupons from natural brands like Stonyfield and Applegate Farms this way.

2. Visit online organic coupon clearinghouses. Several sites specialize in coupons for natural and organic foods. Crystal Collins of NaturalThrifty.com maintains a list of online organic coupon resources here.

Send expired coupons to the troops overseas

When you start getting into the coupon game, you’re bound to have some coupons that expire before you can use them. If you don’t like the idea of throwing out all those old coupons, consider donating them to the troops. Military families stationed overseas can generally use manufacturer’s coupon for up to 6 months after their expiration date. Find out more here.

For further reading:

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Clark Howard About the author:
Clark Howard is a consumer expert whose goal is to help you keep more of the money you make. His national radio show and website show you ways to put more money in your pocket, with advice you can trust. More about Clark
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