(Not so Extreme) Couponing

Ads, coupons and coupon envelope

I am a fan of a good deal, something the Gap and J. Crew companies know too well about me. My love of deals extends to many area’s of my life, including the grocery store.

There are shows and tactics to save money on food being labeled “extreme.” I only buy what I need, and I don’t make couponing a full-time job like the people who buy hundreds of dollars of items for free. That’s great if you have the time and need for all those items, but that isn’t what I’m about.

To stay in budget, I keep a running list of the basics as I run out of them and jot down ingredients for my meals I have planned for the week. I will also glance through the weekly circular to see what is on sale and try to plan my meals around what I have and what’s on sale.

Here are a few tips I’ve learned that can easily save someone 20 percent or more off the weekly bill in about 20 minutes a week:

  • Clip coupons from the Sunday circulars. If you can find extra circulars (from friends or buying an extra paper) sometimes that can pay off to stock up when something is on sale.
  • Look around on the web. I try to keep an eye on fake vegetarian foods and pantry staples via their websites, Facebook pages or sites like coupons.com, redplum.com and Printable Coupons, among others. Sign up for the newsletters, and sometimes they send coupons to loyal customers.
  • Other places that might have coupons: Magazines, newspaper ads (beyond circulars), loyalty cards and in the mail. Sometimes I’m lucky to get a $5 off $30 coupon for being a loyal customer (that’s a 16 percent savings right away).
  • Keep an eye for when items go on sale. I notice at my supermarket items seem to go on sale about every 4 to 6 weeks. I wait until then to buy pantry and frozen staples and stock up on enough to last me until the next sale.
  • Know your store’s coupon policy. Some stores accept competitor coupons. Some accept both a store coupon and a manufacturer coupon for the same product.

My coworker Jane is even better than me at saving on groceries. She checks the circular for items on sale. She heads to the Internet and searches for the product names and the word “coupon” and looks through coupons she previously clipped.

While I try to save between 20 and 35 percent, my coworker Tim is a grocery-saving machine. His advice:

“I think of coupons as a game. My goal is to win as much as possible while using newspaper coupons only. I understand there are online venues, but that just doesn’t fall within my time constraints. After cutting coupons that fit my interest, I separate them in a coupon book by aisle of my favorite Publix.

“My strategy at Publix is simple. Stock up when there are buy one/get one or two for XX and try to have a coupon for each singular item. It’s a bonus if it’s a Publix coupon, because then I can double up on each singular item, and use a Publix coupon AND a manufacture coupon. My goal is to shop, within reason, for all things on sale and use coupons, and only pick up minimal amounts of things I must have for the week.”

Tim figures he saves $20 in coupons and $20 in store savings a week. That’s a savings of over $2,000 a year. All for about 30 minutes worth of work a week.

Do you clip coupons? What is your strategy or style when shopping for deals? How much do you save per week?

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6 thoughts on “(Not so Extreme) Couponing

  1. Pingback: Weekly groceries | Words from a visual journalist

  2. Couponing isnt as good in canada as in the states, I just clip what I need and pair it up with sales. People used to make fun of me so much so i started keeping track and so far this year I saved 223$..thats groceries averaging 50$ a week for two people..not bad :)

  3. We’re totally addicted to the show Extreme Couponing… On those coupon websites, print all your coupons and then change the zipcode to other metropolitan areas… Coupons in Miami are often different in Chicago and New York, but generally they can be used anywhere.

    • I watched one episode of that show and couldn’t get into it, plus I don’t need a whole bunker of food!
      But I think you can do that with Groupon, too, when they are national coupons (buy a Groupon [etc.] in a different city for an offer that works anywhere if it’s a national or online-only chain).

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