15 Insider Couponing Secrets to Maximize Your Savings

The TV show Extreme Couponing promises to slash household bills. However, the reality behind the TV shows is different in everyday life. While savings are available, the cost cuts outlined on the shows may be exaggerated.

What’s the real picture? Couponers are happy to share trade secrets, and there are definitely effective ways to cut costs from your budget.

Some of these tips involve traditional methods for finding physical coupons, which you cut out and take to the store, while others work in different ways. Each is designed to save you money.

1. Don’t Believe the Hype

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As we hinted in the introduction, you’ll need to be realistic in your approach to couponing. TV shows based on couponing are chiefly for entertainment purposes and shouldn’t be taken too seriously.

The stores involved agree to participate, and it’s been suggested they bend the rules to accommodate the broadcasters. Don’t copy the participants. Read these tips instead.

2. Make a Plan

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Before you enter the store, make sure you have a list of all the items you want and all your coupons are in place. Those coupons could be on paper, or they may be on your smartphone.

Don’t be distracted by other items that might increase your shopping bill unnecessarily. Stick to your plan, and don’t let additional purchases outweigh the savings.

3. React Quickly

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Some in-store promotions are worth investigating, and shoppers must react quickly. A list of coupons will often appear by the store’ entrance, so grab that on your way in. Assess which deals offer value and take advantage of them.

If the coupon tray is empty, check with the customer service desk since they may have more flyers waiting to be displayed.

4. Arrive Early

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Remember that you’re not the only couponer out there. If a store publishes a great deal, others will rush to claim it, and you don’t want to see an empty shelf. Be sure to arrive early to take advantage of the offers.

Experienced couponers also advise taking only what you need and leaving those shelves adequately stocked for others.

5. Look for Deal Stacking

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Two deals are better than one, and it’s possible to combine two offers to save more money. You may even end up with a cash credit balance that you can use to purchase other items.

For example, you could combine a buy one, get one free deal with a 75% saving coupon on a product that costs $1.00. With two coupons applied, the customer receives a 50-cent credit to use on other purchases at the same store.

6. Join Money Saving Forums

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Many couponers are happy to share the latest deals, particularly on items they don’t need. That’s why it makes sense to sign up for money-saving forum communities, where it’s possible to find offers that you may otherwise have missed.

When you join, look out for weekly newsletters and make sure you opt-in for even more money-saving updates.

7. Coupons when You Renew Your Utilities

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Utility comparison sites often issue coupons when you use their services to buy a product. It’s always worth checking deals when you renew auto and home insurance and other household essentials.

A free pizza or $20 off your next grocery bill is a common promotion. However, you may need to change insurers to receive the offer, so make sure you’re saving money on your premiums first.

8. Scout Around for Cashback

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Cashback is a part of a successful couponing strategy, and it’s a way to earn extra funds after the shopping trip is complete. Traditional cashback sites are the place to start, but be careful of any that charge a membership fee.

There are free sites and some banks and credit card companies also offer cashback deals. You can even stack some cashback offers for more savings.

9. Check Recycling Bins

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Many shoppers don’t have time for coupons, and if they don’t need a product, they’ll likely throw their deals away. Extreme couponers have been known to retrieve these and use them for their savings.

You don’t need to rummage through trash piles to find coupons, but these often appear in recycling centers. Be aware that you’ll need permission from site management before you search.

10. Consider Packaged Bank Accounts

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Certain packaged bank accounts offer savings or free products, including magazine subscriptions. Once again, the offer’s value must be compared to the bank’s monthly charges.

Many are worth following up on, especially those that provide free annual travel insurance and auto breakdown coverage.

11. Collect All Your Loyalty Points

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A store’s loyalty program can also add to your stash of coupons. Many shoppers keep their store coupons for the holiday season for bigger savings when they need to make extra purchases.

Every point adds up, even at small, top-up shops, so remember your loyalty card when you go to the store.

12. Stay Organized

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If you’re serious about taking your couponing to the next level, you must stay on top of things. Organize physical coupons into a folder, ready for when they need to be used.

A good idea is to file them in order of expiry date. A common mistake among newbies is attempting to use a coupon after it has run out.

13. Remember Your Checkout Etiquette

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A cart full of goods takes a while to check out, and the process can be stressful. If there are customers behind you with smaller baskets, consider allowing them to check out in front of you.

Be prepared to take your time and devote a whole morning or afternoon to your shop if necessary. This will allow you to check deals and look for new coupons in-store.

14. Choose Your Cashier Wisely

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A miserable or stressed-out cashier could also make the couponing experience uncomfortable. As you move around the store, filling your cart, look for someone who is always smiling.

Remember that mistakes happen. If the cashier misses a coupon, be polite when you point out the error. You want to make and keep friends during what can be a lengthy and complex process.

15. Share the Savings

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If you use all your coupons, chances are you’ll have some products left over. When storage is tight, consider donating your excess items to food banks and charities, where they will make a difference.

Donating is a worthy byproduct of couponing. While it’s good to score as many savings as possible, avoid hoarding and be a positive force for the local community.

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