By Emily Carver, Recent ASU Nutrition Student
Everyone loves a good discount, and using coupons is no exception. There’s something about knowing you saved even just fifty cents with a coupon that can make you feel it was worth the purchase. Couponing can be fun, and for some can even provide a rush each time they’re at the checkout counter. Couponing can be as easy as following your local papers and grocery store ads to find the latest deals or can be as in-depth as following multiple websites, papers, and manufacturer’s advertisements. Whether you’re a seasoned couponer looking for fresh ideas, or a newbie looking to learn the ropes, here are some expert tips from pro couponer, Victoria Zielinski that will help shed some light on the best ways to maximize your savings.
- Know where to search
Searching is overwhelming. There are a lot of places online to find coupons, but Victoria suggests focusing on local newspapers, especially Sunday’s paper, and grocery store ads. She points out, that it can be frustrating to find a manufacturer’s coupon online, only to learn your store won’t honor it. You, as the shopper, know what you’re needing in your home, and by directing your focus on the local circulation, you’ll gain confidence in your ability to successfully coupon.
- Develop a system
If you want to get serious about couponing, you need to get organized. Victoria believes in an envelope system with each having its own label like dairy, frozen section, pasta, meat, etc. When it’s time to shop, she checks the store’s ads, clips coupons for the products she needs and makes her list. Once she’s ready, Victoria keeps her list with coupons separate from the non-coupon items and goes shopping. By establishing a system, you’re far more likely to get into a comfortable and organized rhythm of couponing.
- Do the math
As the saying goes, “know before you go.” If you go coupon grocery shopping without knowing the pre-coupon and post-coupon cost, it can be overwhelming and painful to keep track. By knowing the cost of each item beforehand, and with the coupon associated with it, it’ll make your grocery shopping a lot easier. Victoria makes sure she knows what she’s walking away with and how much she’ll spend before checking out. On a typical shopping trip, Victoria plans to save 80% or more with her coupons.
- Be resourceful and patient
Becoming a pro at couponing takes time and patience. Start small and gain confidence and momentum to effectively maximize your savings. Having a list of items you need with the envelope system will help you stay on track and keep you from excessively couponing. If there’s one thing Victoria stresses, it’s the importance of only buying what you need unless you’re couponing for items you intend to donate to others. Clearing a shelf of an item you don’t intend to use, just because you have coupons, is not a good habit to establish.
Couponing doesn’t have to be intimidating. In fact, it can be quite fun. By becoming familiar with your local papers, establishing a “clear-to-you” system to stay organized, knowing the math before you go, and remaining patient, you’ll be successfully on your way to major savings.
For more blogs that help you in mastering everyday life check out the Fill Your Plate Blog! Also after you go coupon grocery shopping like a pro, check out Fill Your Plate for a variety of recipes! Also, if you’re a Farm Bureau member, some retail farmers will offer you member discounts.