Be realistic. Yes, Extreme Couponing encouraged me to start clipping coupons, but that show is unrealistic! There is no possible way that you will checkout with a total before coupons over $500, and walk out of the store paying absolutely nothing.
Start your coupon journey by focusing on one or two stores. To make things easier, Coupons Over Cash focuses on CVS, Safeway, and Target deals, as I think these are the easiest for beginners. Each store is unique and provides different incentives, which helps make your Out of Pocket (OOP) less!
Know the store’s coupon policy. There have been multiple times when I’ve checked out at a store and the cashier didn’t know the store’s coupon policy. In these situations, it’s best to keep a printed copy in your coupon binder, or bookmark it on your phone.
Know the difference between “per transaction” and “per purchase.” At the bottom of most coupons, it will mention limit one per purchase or one per transaction. One per purchase refers to the purchase of an individual item. For example, you plan to purchase four tubes of Colgate toothpaste. If the Colgate coupon said limit one per purchase, you could use four coupons because you are purchasing four of the same item. One per transaction refers to the entirety of what you’re buying. Similarly, if you were buying four tubes of Colgate toothpaste, and the Colgate coupon said limit one per transaction, you could only use one coupon. An entire transaction consists of multiple purchases.
Keep your coupons organized. I have arranged my coupons MULTIPLE different ways. I started with the binder method, then switched to a “clip as needed” policy. Find what works best for you.
Buy only what the coupon states. If a coupon is for $2 off Lysol toilet bowl cleaner, don’t try to use it on Lysol disinfectant spray. Some dishonest couponers will try to do this and assume that because the coupon didn’t *beep* at the register, then it is okay. This is actually considered coupon misuse. What would be acceptable is if the coupon said $2 off ANY Lysol product.
Don’t be afraid to try new brands. I’ll admit, I used to be loyal to specific brands. I’m talking to you Charmin Ultra Soft toilet paper. If an item is free (or extremely cheap), don’t be afraid to branch out. I mean, all brands of toilet paper do do the same thing, pun intended.
If you can’t use it or donate it, don’t buy it. All too often, some couponers will do a deal only because they have the coupons for that item, and never use what they bought. If you cannot use it, or donate it, it’ll just clutter your home.
Invest in a paper cutter. If you’re going to use a coupon binder, save yourself some time (and hand cramps) and get a paper cutter. You’ll thank me later.
Do you have any additional tips for beginners? If so, leave a comment below!