If you’ve never couponed before you may be overwhelmed at the idea and be paralyzed about where to start.
That overwhelming feeling that you want to save money but aren’t sure where to start may cause you to do nothing, and continue to do what you’ve always done. Coupons are a hobby of mine.
I track them every month in my monthly couponing reports and challenge myself to get a bit better each month. It’s so easy to get started and start saving a ton of money on your grocery bills by using coupons!
Below is a list of 10 tips for beginners to start or enhance their couponing journey. They are for normal people who aren’t looking to become extreme couponers today but wanting to take the next best step toward saving money with couponing.
Beginner Couponing Tips
1. Recognize your tolerance for couponing and saving.
Couponing is time-consuming and not for the disorganized or impulse buyers. If you want to be most effective at saving money couponing it’s going to require you to become more aware of your buying habits. If you know you are the type of person who would never physically clip coupons, then don’t use the Sunday paper as your coupon source.
However, maybe digital coupons seem more appealing to you. Then clip digitally. I say take couponing one step at a time knowing your tolerance. I’m not asking you to change, I’m asking you to take the next best step you can knowing your personality and the type of couponer you will likely be.
2. Find a coupon source(s).
Are you going to order the Sunday paper and have it delivered? Are you going to pick it up at a store or gas station locally every Sunday? Do you know yourself to know that cutting and clipping physical coupons aren’t for you? Or that you’d prefer to not spend money to acquire coupons?
3. Start with one store and master it.
Where do you shop most often? Every store has their own coupon policies, price matching policies, coupon availability in their apps, etc. Some of my favorite stores encourage couponing and provide manufacturer coupons taped to the shelves of the products or have signs listing how to get the best deal. For example, locally to me, the store Woodman’s does this. These types of stores are awesome for beginners.
Identify one (or two) stores you shop most regularly, download their stores’ app, and start clipping digital coupons at a bare minimum.
4. Get a coupon organizer.
Initially, it may be a plain old envelope you’re using to put coupons in. As your skills and desire to save grow you’ll likely acquire more coupons and need a more sophisticated system to organize. I use an organizer like this one. It comes with tabs so you can organize coupons by product category (which typically corresponds to a typical aisle at the grocery store). It also has a hanger so you can put it right on the cart if you want.
5. Maintain your coupon organizer.
What good is an organizer if there are no coupons in it, or all it contains is expired coupons? Set aside time each week to add coupons to your organizer and to clear out the old coupons. Sunday is my default date as I get the Sunday paper so grab the paper, scissors and a cup of coffee and get couponing on Sundays Find the date and time that works for you and be consistent. Nothing makes me more frustrated then finding a deal, hitting the checkout only to find out the coupon is expired. Ugh!
6. Bring your coupon organizer with you everywhere!
I’m talking everywhere. Put it in your purse and don’t take it out. Every time I have ever lightened my purse and taken the organizer out because there was “no way” I was going to need anything in the organizer, I have regretted it.
Undoubtedly after a dinner date, we’d realize we are low on milk on the way home and want to swing into the store. Or my husband has one thing he needs to get at Menards. You know how I feel about Menards as a secret grocery store option. Always bring it with you!
7. Keep more than just coupons in the organizer.
I keep ongoing shopping lists, gift cards to stores, restaurant coupons, etc. all in the coupon organizer. Again, these coupons and gift cards do no good sitting in a drawer in your house or under a magnet on your fridge if you need them when you’re away from the house.
8. Only go to the store if you have a list.
I mean it! Don’t roll your eyes and whip out the pen and paper. You are less likely to impulse shop when an item is not on your list and it will help prevent you pulling into the driveway only to realize you forgot the “one thing” that you went to the store for.
Make a list, and check it twice before you leave to make sure you picked everything up. I also use a notation (such as an asterisk) on the list for items that I have a coupon for. Just another reminder when I hit the check out to make sure I’ve grabbed all coupons from my organizer.
9. Look at the store flyers before you go to the store.
Look for sale prices on items and match up coupons to the sale prices. If you’ve done all the previous steps, then you’ll have an organizer loaded with coupons by type/aisle so it makes this exercise easier than it sounds.
Over time, you’ll become relatively familiar with the coupons you’ve clipped so you can usually eyeball pretty quickly if you have a coupon or not. If you’re not sure, whip out the organizer and sift through and find it.
Pro tip: leave the very first compartment of the organizer for all the coupons you’re planning to use at the store the next time you go. After you’ve matched up store prices with coupons, place the coupons in the very first pocket to make them easy to find when you are at the store.
10. Don’t be intimidated by couponing and just start!
Every coupon and every dollar counts!
Don’t try to be perfect. Just start somewhere! Don’t compare your grocery savings to other’s massively cheap hauls. Large hauls for next to nothing out-of-pocket are possible, but start where you are comfortable and grow your skills and confidence at your own pace.
You can coupon. You can save money with coupons. You just have to take that first step and start today! Try a few of the couponing tips above, and when you’ve mastered them, try some more. Make sure you have a coupon source, organize those babies, and start making that list!
Do you coupon? What is your favorite store to coupon at?