Looking to get your family’s budget in check? Couponing is a key – and manageable – way to do it. Get started here, with great beginner’s advice from some seriously seasoned couponers.
Go to the source – and plan
Crystal Paine, mom of three and creator of the Money Saving Mom website, recommends novices start by finding a blog managed by a local couponer who covers deals in that area and lists out coupons available. Some popular metro Detroit couponing blogs include Bargains to Bounty, Everyday Savvy and Centsable Momma.
Paine also recommends planning your family’s menu for the week or month before beginning to clip coupons and hit the store. “Plan your family’s meals based on what is on sale,” she notes.
Get realistic – and connected
Rather than pursue “extreme couponing,” Melissa Buckles of Troy, here in Michigan, the brains behind Everyday Savvy, suggests those just getting started try “realistic couponing” by starting with the top 10 to 15 items on their grocery lists and couponing and stockpiling around those items first.
Melissa Jennings of Stockpiling Moms recommends shoppers email their favorite brands and ask if they would be willing to send coupons. This is how Jennings secures many of the coupons for the organic and gluten-free foods that make up a large portion of her grocery list.
She also recommends couponers friend their favorite brands on Facebook, where exclusive coupons are often shared. Likewise, she recommends people sign up for their preferred brands’ enewsletters where special promotions and exclusive coupons are often made available.
“Some brands will even send you a coupon for your birthday,” she adds.
Couponers recommend those just getting started call their grocery store customer service desk to find out if the store doubles coupons and up to what amount, and if so, whether it doubles them every day or only on certain days of the month.
Organize and digitize
Jennings also strongly recommends shoppers organize their coupons before hitting the store.
“Organization is the key to success,” she says. “If you’re stuffing your coupons into an accordion file that you pull out and have to fumble through at the checkout with a crying kid, you’re going to give up and forgo using them out of frustration.”
Instead, she recommends using a binder with baseball card inserts to store coupons – expiration-date-side out.
“I sit my binder in the cart where a toddler would sit and, as soon as I pull an item off the shelf, I pull the coupon,” she says. “That way, I am never fumbling at the checkout.”
Loading digital coupons to your shopper loyalty card is one easy way to get started couponing. Stores like Kroger offer digital coupons on their websites that can be added to a loyalty card and redeemed without paper ever changing hand.
This post was originally published in 2013 and has been updated for 2016.