If you’re tired of paying premium prices for groceries, household staples, toiletries, and other necessities, you may be interested in extreme couponing. Or maybe you already coupon a little, but you’re looking to make a real dent in your grocery budget by kicking your couponing up a notch.
When you think extreme couponing, chances are that you picture the popular TLC show, “Extreme Couponing,” where people with veteran levels of couponing skills walked away from their grocery hauls with multiple carts full of food, toiletries, and household goods they got for steeply discounted prices.
Sometimes the grocery store even owed them money after it was all said and done. Here’s the deal:
Extreme couponing is appealing to many
because everyone loves free things.
But, many of us want all of the free things, without all of the endless coupon clipping, bargain hunting, and scouring the web for the best deals. Luckily, we are in 2019, and it's has never been easier. In fact, there are millions of dollars being saved! You deserve to get your share of those millions.
There are dozens of websites, apps, YouTube channels, and social media groups dedicated to helping the modern day couponer score all the best deals. So if you’re ready to embrace the couponing lifestyle, check out these five steps loaded with tips to help you become the master of your local grocery store.
The first step (and it’s pretty simple) is to pick just one store in which to master your extreme couponing game. All the “professional” couponers recommend this. Because once you know your way thoroughly around couponing in one store, you’ll be able to get all the best deals.
What are the best stores for couponing?
There’s no universal agreement where the beginner in the world of extreme couponing should start. However…Many recommend Target because you’ll get lots of practice stacking coupons.
The art of stacking coupons is the key to a successful shop
because it allows you to use manufacturer coupons and
store coupons all for the same item.
But more on that later. For now, focus on the stores you feel most comfortable shopping. But keep in mind where your money might stretch furthest.
Big Box Supermarkets
You can stack coupons, The Target Cartwheel app is free and offers discounts, Target price-matches competitors, Walmart offers lots of rollbacks and clearance, Walmart will give you any overage back in cash
High-End Grocery Stores
Kroger, Safeway, Wegmans, Harris Teeter, ShopRite
Sign up for loyalty cards to save more, add “eCoupons” to said loyalty card, use in-store coupons on top of manufacturer coupons, use rebate app offers on top of savings
CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid
Stellar deals on paper products and personal care items, great loyalty programs with reward points, great store coupons combined with reward points, rain checks for items out of stock
No-Frills Grocery Stores
WinCo, Aldi, Food 4 Less
Great prices even without coupons, shop bulk food and store brand items, avoid toiletry aisle because prices will be better elsewhere
Costco, Sam’s Club, BJ’s
Only BJ’s takes manufacturer coupons, so compare unit prices with other stores before you shop, great for large families those who are brand loyal or those who don’t have time to coupon, look for Groupon and Living Social deals for memberships
Navigating your store’s policies
No matter where you choose to shop there is one big thing you cannot forget. You need to know your store’s coupon policies. Finding yourself unaware of a store’s couponing policies and unable to get those deals is an embarrassment akin to the age-old nightmare of public speaking in your underwear.
Avoid the nightmare altogether by getting a copy of your store’s coupon policies, either online or in-store at the customer service counter.
Once you’ve picked your store, the real fun starts: finding all the best coupons. But, before you grab your scissors and subscribe for a dozen copies of the Sunday paper, you should know that there are dozens of places to find coupons. And a lot of them don’t involve scissors at all.
Types of coupons: Manufacturers vs. store coupons
It’s important to know the fundamental difference between the two basic forms of coupons: manufacturers and store coupons. Every couponing expert will use both types of coupons to make sure they score all the best deals and get maximum savings.
The best places to find coupons
There is practically no end when it comes to hunting for coupons. And you might just drive yourself crazy looking for them. But here’s the kicker… This is 2019. And in the same way that we don’t need to locate a payphone to make a call or check our email using a dial-up connection, we don’t need to dumpster dive for coupons.
You can find coupons through websites, phone apps,
chrome extensions and more.
All the best tips for finding coupons are below. Fair warning, you’re going to walk away from this article with such extreme couponing knowledge, you may be a dangerous couponing weapon.
One of the best places to start is with printable online coupons. Why search through printable coupons? Because you are a modern-day individual who wants to find and print only the coupons you need.
These websites allow you to search for exactly what you want, print the coupons for FREE without any subscription to worry about -- and do all this from the comfort of your own home. Many even alert you to the best in-store sales and deals. So you're getting double the value from each website. Need I say more?
No. Because you are smart, and you’re probably itching to check out these websites. But searching the web for coupons is only the beginning. Any novice will also want to check out mobile couponing apps.
There's an app for that!
Couponing apps are where couponing really hits its millennial stride. Without the need to print, cut, snip, or snap you have access to thousands of coupons right on your smartphone.
Type of App
Grocery stores, national retailers, online retailers
In-store scanning to check for rebates instantly, links to your store loyalty cards
Need to scan receipts post-purchase if your store’s loyalty card doesn’t link
Additional discounts without the need to clip even one coupon
Grocery stores, national retailers, online retailers
Type of App
Easy to use, scannable coupons, the “near me” feature that finds coupons based on your location
Coupons depend on geographical areas, cashiers don’t always know how to work with the app
The couponer who prefers a virtual coupon binder
National retailers, independent retailers, percent-off discounts
Type of App
Reward points, deal ginder
Rewards you points even when you don’t make a purchase, alerts you to deals as soon as you enter the store
Uses both phone battery and data to work correctly, which isn’t ideal for everyone
Shopping trips when you plan to hit lots of stores in one day
National retailers and malls
Type of App
Similar to Ibotta, includes healthier options like produce that you don’t usually see with coupons
No online shopping rebates
The discreet couponer who doesn’t want to hold up the line
Thousands of grocery stores across the country
Type of App
Retailers upload coupons, offering more savings; local offers available
Not as popular as other apps, so there may be fewer offers
Supporting local business and getting deals straight from retailers
Independent retailers, product discounts, national retailers
Type of App
Real cash-back rebates, easy to use, even without coupons
Limited number of rebates available, requires you to take pictures of your receipts
Couponers and non-couponers alike who want to save money without getting discounts right at the register
National and local grocery stores
Type of App
Searches for product-specific coupons, works both in-store and online, allows you to save your favorite stores in the app alerting you to the best deals
Still requires some printing
The more traditional couponers
Type of App
Helps you save money with a carefully made grocery list; works with store loyalty cards
Still requires some coupon printing, can be time-consuming to make lists and sync with available retailer coupons
The multitaskers who want to make a grocery list and coupon at the same time
Take advantage of all the bargains you can find right from your smartphone. That way, you are couponing smarter, not harder.
Even the experts still take advantage of traditional Sunday newspaper coupons. Some of the best deals and highest savings are found between the newsprint. The key to mastering newspaper coupons is simple, especially when you check out helpful advice of the experts.
Take a look, navigating which inserts you need, where to purchase the paper, and how to find and interpret the best supplements is not as tricky as you might think. Just watch for the SmartSource, RetailMeNot (formerly RedPlum), P&G BrandSaver inserts, and you’ll have direct access to all the best deals.
Think we have exhausted all the best places to find coupons? Not by a long shot! The world of couponing has its own lingo to describe some other great coupon options. And some of the names are pretty cute!
We’ve got peelies… Those are the coupons stuck like a sticker on the products themselves. You simply buy the product with the peelie on the front, then take it back to the store the next time to get that amazing deal.
There’s also blinkies… These are the coupons you see in the actual aisle of the grocery store. Found in a black box with a red blinking light, these are meant to increase impulse buying or advertise a new product. But the best couponers can take full advantage of finding another great deal.
We should probably mention tearpads… This is simply the name for the pad of manufacturer coupons found in shopping aisles. They are designed to be snapped up and used at another store, just not where you found the coupon.
And finally, there are Catalina coupons… Not the salad dressing. Or the Californian island. These are the coupons that print out at the end of your grocery store receipt, triggered by the items you purchase.
These manufacturers coupons are favorites of some extreme couponers because they are often customized to the products you already shop for. Keep an eye out for any of these elusive coupon deals next time you go shopping.
Don't dismiss your browser's power!
Entering a new millennium of couponing means embracing Google Chrome extensions that make couponing easier.
If you’ve never used Google Chrome, you’re missing out.
Aside from being a quick and streamlined web browser, Google Chrome allows you to download extensions that make your life easier. You may have seen online advertisements for extensions like Grammarly. Well, there are some for saving money too.
Four of the best are:
Check out the Google Chrome extension store and download some of these amazing resources today! Save money not just in the store, but also while shopping online.
Get the most out of each coupon
Now that you’re a certified expert on where to find the best coupons, make sure you’re maximizing savings by using as many coupons as the manufacturer and store allow. Stock up on the best deals, and learn how to “stack coupons.” What is coupon stacking you ask?
It’s simple, With the right know-how, you can combine a store coupon (from someplace like Target or your local grocery store) with a manufacturer coupon (from a company like Kraft or Tide).
With this method, you’re getting double the benefit.
If you combine coupon stacking with an in-store sale and a mobile rebate app like Ibotta, then it’s possible to actually make money from shopping!
Once you’re armed and dangerous (AKA loaded with all the best coupons), you’ll want to have a plan of action for your first coupon shopping trip. That's right, it's time to get organized.
This is where all of your thrifty education and carefully honed coupon organizational skills will come in handy. A real haul takes a combination of coupons, know-how, and planning. Does this overwhelm you a little? No worries. You are just a few paragraphs away from all the answers.
Don’t get tripped up by the fine print
If you take one look at the fine print on the back of a coupon and shrink away in fear, you’re not alone. But the good news? With just a few minutes of your time, you can turn the fine print on the back of a coupon from a language of gibberish to a paragraph of money-saving advice.
If the Coupons Says
Then it means
“Limit one coupon per purchase”
You can use one coupon for each item. It is meant to enforce the point you cannot use two of the same coupons on one individual item.
“Limit one coupon per transaction”
You can only use one of these coupons per item per store transaction.
“Available at Walmart”
This coupon can be used at Walmart but also at other stores.
“Redeemable only at…”
You can only use the coupon at the store listed
This product is only available at the particular store listed. But you may want to hold onto the coupon in case other stores receive the item eventually.
“Limit 4 identical coupons per day”
You can only use up to four coupons in the same transaction.
“One per visit”
You can only use one identical coupon per shopping trip.
“Cannot be combined with any other coupon”
You cannot use two manufacturer coupons on the same item.
Find your system, here's how
Part of expert couponing is finding the organizational system that works for you. Because once you’re loaded with hundreds of usable coupons, you need some way to store them so that you can use them for maximum impact. Some couponers are team binder. Others like to use filing folders.
Still, others use plastic photo boxes. You may have to try out a few of these methods before you find the one that works best for you. But remember… If the goal is to save money, you’re going to want to pick the method that is cheap to begin, easy to maintain, and the most helpful for maximum savings. Otherwise, the coupons might just gain the upper hand.
The best codes and deals are hiding in your social media
One of the best secrets to couponing success is joining the ever-growing community of couponers. And because this is 2019, feeling connected to fellow couponers is not like joining a knitting circle of yore. You can join one of the many social media groups that are available for couponers.
Some of the best are:
Once you’ve made it through steps one, two, and three, the real fun begins: shopping! Armed with your coupons, your knowledge, and your new online couponing support system, you are prepared for your first haul!
Shop smarter, not harder
The most essential tip you can get is rather simple: Avoid temptation. Well, okay, maybe it is simpler to say than to practice. When you spend lots of time in stores hunting for the best deals, it’s easy to get sucked in by the allure of the store’s marketing.
Or maybe you’re shopping hungry. In which case resisting that pack of cookies is all the more difficult. But don't forget:
If your goal is to save money through couponing, then you have to stay on course and buy only the things you came for.
That way, when you walk away from an outstanding haul, you haven’t spent all the money you saved on silly impulse buys.
What you don't know can hurt you
When you go couponing, it is essential to be well-informed about what is actually an excellent price. Just saving fifty cents off of a four dollar box of cereal really isn’t all that impressive. You need to know the price point...
With experience, you will learn what a really good price point is.
And once you find that sweet spot of money saving, you have found your “stock-up” price: the point at which you want to snap up as many of that item as you can, to build your stockpile.
When loyalty is a bad thing
Extreme couponers know a harsh truth:
Being brand loyal just won’t get you the best deal.
You want to choose items that bring you maximum money savings. Even if that means trading your regular Tide detergent for Gain. Or trading Bounty paper towels for Brawny. Once you let go of brand loyalty, you will be free to save the most money.
Avoid buying just anything or using just any coupon
When you begin couponing, you may be tempted to use every coupon that you have, just because you have it. Consider this:
What good will fifty cans of tuna do if you never plan to open even one? The only exception, of course, is if you plan to donate your excess stockpile. In which case, go for it. But a good rule of thumb is to purchase just what you know you’ll use. That way, you’re saving money and not being wasteful.
GO! Start your extreme couponing journey today! And the good news is, that in 2019 couponing has never been simpler. So grab your smartphone, and download an app or two. Maybe even try your hand at some old-fashioned coupon clipping. Soon you’ll save big and see real results!