Recently, I shared the story of a recent shopping trip I filmed with a television reporter to demonstrate how to save on groceries with coupons. At the end of the trip I paid $18 for $103 worth of groceries.
In case you are wondering how I saved that much money on a cartful of groceries, keep reading to learn my favorite coupon tricks. Although I use a few of these tricks every week during my own family's grocery shopping, I tend to pull out all the stops and use every single trick during a television coupon story.
Start by using your coupons at the store with the most generous coupon policies. Although most stores accept grocery coupons, their specific coupon policies can vary dramatically. One store may accept coupons at their face value, while another store may double or even triple the face value of the coupon. Stores that offer bonus coupon policies tend to advertise these policies in their weekly ad, on their Web site and in their stores.
However, many stores have generous coupon policies that they do not advertise. Ask the store personnel specific questions to understand how to maximize your coupon savings, such as:
1. Do you offer your own store coupons? If so, where can I find them? Some stores offer special coupons in their weekly ad, on their Web site, through e-mail newsletters, and even in store magazines and flyers posted in special racks in the stores. If your store has their magazine available in the store, go ahead and fill out the subscription card in the magazine to get free home delivery. The home-delivered magazine is more likely to include grocery coupons.
2. Can I combine your store coupon with a manufacturers' coupon for the same item? When you use both a store coupon and a manufacturers' coupon (such as the coupons from the Sunday grocery coupon circulars) together to buy one item, it may end up being free. Although shoppers cannot use two manufacturers' coupons on the same item, it is very common to be able to use a store coupon together with a manufacturers' coupon. Keep in mind that stores do not double their own store coupons, but they will double the manufacturers coupons if they have a double-coupon policy.
3. Do you accept competitors' store coupons? If so, look for store coupons for other grocery stores and drugstores in their weekly ads. Combine the competing stores' coupons with manufacturers' coupons at a grocery store that doubles coupons to really save.
4. Know how to read coupons. The coupon's word description takes precedent over the coupon's picture. Although a coupon may say "$1 off any variety of Brand X" it is likely to show a picture of the most expensive item in the Brand X line. If you thought your coupon only applied to the $5 item pictured, you would spend $4 on the item. However, if you bought the smaller $1 variety of Brand X, you would get that item free.
5. Do you accept coupons printed from a home computer? There are now over 300 grocery coupons available from the printable grocery coupon Web sites offering big savings, offering significant savings.
6. Do you accept expired grocery coupons? Some major stores choose to accept expired grocery coupons rather than doubling or tripling coupons. Organized coupon shoppers can save big with this policy.
7. Do you double multiple coupons for like items? Smart shoppers know that stocking up on their favorite items when they are at their lowest prices is the key to reducing their grocery bills. If shoppers have one coupon per item purchased, they will save the most at stores that double all of their like coupons. Some stores will double the first coupon and deduct only the face value for additional like coupons, so shopping at the more generous store will pay big dividends for stockpilers.
Copyright 2006, United Feature Syndicate, Inc.
United Feature Syndicate