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You don't have to be an extreme couponer to save money by using coupons. Anyone can knock a sizeable amount of money off their grocery bill and other shopping purchases by learning how to use coupons effectively. As long as you know where to find the coupons, how to organize them and how to get the biggest bang for your buck, you will see that the effort makes the time worth your while.
Find the Sources
Coupons are readily available from a huge range of sources. There are some places, however, that do a lot of the work for you, so you don't have to go hunting all over for coupons from different suppliers. Lozo is an excellent site to register for, and it allows you to search for grocery coupons from all of the sources that put coupons in newspapers in one place. You can also print two coupons for each item at this one site, so that saves you from having to go back through all of the coupons to find the exact ones you want.
Sign up at multiple different sources, including Coupon Mom, Coupons, Smart Source, Red Plum and Grocery Coupon Network. Places like Grocery Coupon Network often have coupons that are exclusive to certain stores.
By learning what is available in your area, you may be able to take advantage of better deals at more than one store. Don't go shopping at multiple different stores just to save money on a single item. It's only worth your while if you can do your shopping at a store that offers better savings.
Other retail stores also offer coupon discounts, and if you regularly shop for clothing at a certain store, sign up to be on their e-mail list. Doing so will alert you to sales before the public finds out. You may also be entitled to additional discounts that are exclusive to e-mail subscribers. Sites like CouponCraze also separate coupons according to expiration date. It also has coupons from online stores and physical stores.
Organize Printed Coupons
If you organize your coupons so that they're always easy to find, you'll be more likely to use them. Everyone needs to create their own organizing system, but extreme couponers often use small 5 x 7 three-ring binders. Staples sells special sheet protectors that have slots for coupons, and they come in packages of ten. These sheet protectors are designed to fit into a 5 x 7 notebook.
Organize your coupons according to category -- and arrange them in the same order as that of your grocery store aisles. Also make a point of putting the coupons that expire soonest where they are visible.
Before doing your weekly grocery shopping trip, go to the store's website to find out what is on sale, and what the week's best deals are. Then you can make your grocery list and separate the coupons you intend to use for that trip. When shopping with coupons, you will get the best savings by using coupons on sale merchandise, and by purchasing products in smaller sizes, whenever available.
Compare prices on the shelf so you see what the unit price is for different products. You may be surprised to find that more often than not, you get a better deal by buying a smaller size and using a coupon.
The key to really saving money with coupons is having a well organized coupon filing system, and planning ahead whenever you're going shopping. Before each shopping trip, go through your coupons to remove any that have expired. Do this regularly so your file isn't cluttered with coupons you can't use.
Also, make a point of finding out when and if you can combine coupons, or if your store has a policy for doubling coupons. Some stores will allow you to combine a store coupon with a manufacturer's coupon but not combine other coupons. The more money you save, the more satisfied you'll feel. You may even decide to challenge yourself to beat your previous savings on the next shopping trip.