Extreme couponers are just that: extreme. They're willing to go the extra mile to stock up on cleaning products, dry goods, and more for just pennies a pop. This practice was fascinating enough to earn its own TV show, and the use of #extremecouponing and #couponcommunity on Instagram will yield you many enthusiastic likes. But for many of us, spending hours a week searching for deals isn't practical. So here are the easiest budget grocery shopping tips from extreme couponers that non-extreme wannabe savers can actually use.
1. Combine deals.
The best way to really save is to combine deals: Combine a store sale, manufacturer coupon, and/or a store coupon together to get extra savings. Extreme couponers rarely use coupons on items that are full-price to begin with; they wait until the items are on sale, then use their coupons to discount the goods even further.
2. Follow your favorite stores.
While an extreme couponer may be willing to shop at multiple stores, several times a week, to get the best deal, most of us don't have time for that. Instead, sign up for your favorite store's newsletters and follow them on Instagram or Twitter to get the information about the latest deals as soon as it's available. Stick to one or two you regularly shop at, versus all the stores around you. And be sure to sign up for the store savings card to get additional deals.
3. But be prepared to switch.
Some stores take coupons, while others don't. Look on the store's site to see what its couponing policies are, as some will limit the amount of deals you can combine or items you can purchase; others will accept competitor coupons or give you rain checks if the item has sold out. Shop at the store that has the best combination of products you want and deals you can use.
4. Be prepared to stock up.
Some sales are too good to pass up. Be prepared to stock up on products you know you will eventually use if it means you'll get a good price per item. Just resist buying more than six month's worth of a product, unless you're certain it won't go bad or expire before you get around to using it.
5. Be flexible.
You may have your week of meals planned and your shopping list in hand, but if you see a great deal — say, a pack of chicken thighs on sale instead of chicken breasts — be prepared to adjust. Similarly, you might want to consider switching brands from time to time if it means you save on something like peanut butter, yogurt, or olive oil.
6. Follow other couponers.
Use Instagram to see what sorts of deals other people are getting. Start by following a few couponers like The Krazy Coupon Lady, Money Saving Mom, or Hip2Save. See if you like their posts and only continue to follow the people who feature deals you really do tend to use.
7. Read your receipts.
Often stores will include coupons or discounts at the bottom of your receipts — especially for groceries, where you're likely to find discounts on things like produce or meat. So be sure to take a look to see if it can inform your next shopping trip!
8. Follow up on rebates.
Rebates can often save you more money, but you have to do additional work like sending in a form, for example. Do the extra legwork and you'll score some of the bigger savings!
9. Stick to the bigger coupons.
Some coupons only save you a few cents, while others save you dollars. If you're feeling overwhelmed, clear the clutter by focusing on ones that will really save you the most money.
10. Organize your coupons.
A coupon's no good to you if it expires before you use it! Keep the coupons handy in your wallet or a file holder in your purse, so you have them on hand. And as you're making your grocery list, go through your coupons to see if anything's expiring. While it might not make sense to purchase something just because the coupon is expiring, you'd hate to lose savings because you weren't paying attention!
Do you coupon? Any other tips to add here?