Tips for Using Coupons to Save Money

Estimated read time: 4 minutes

We've all seen those wild coupon clippers who boast of getting paid to buy ten containers of laundry detergent or five enormous bags of rice. Perhaps, you've even been one! From what I've read, articles suggest if you want to achieve this level of compulsive coupon clipper you have to be prepared to treat it like a full-time gig. Who has time for that? I know I don't. If you're like me, don't lose hope! You can still save on groceries with coupons by following a few easy tips.

Take Advantage of Online Coupons and Loyalty Programs

Chances are if you have a "frequent shopper" card with your favorite grocery store, you've heard of online coupons. Publix, a prominent grocery store in the South, is my store of choice. As a customer involved in their loyalty program, every week I have the opportunity to go through hundreds of online coupons and "clip" them to my card. The most convenient aspect of online couponing is you do not have to remember to bring your physical coupons to the store. You likely will only have to remember a custom ID, like a phone number, to access the coupons at checkout.

Let's stop here and talk a little more about grocery store loyalty programs, and how you can take advantage of them to save money in addition to your coupons. Generally, loyalty programs work like this:

They are free: what's not to love about free access to savings?

Loyalty programs offer deeper savings and exclusive sales to shoppers: the types of discounts and sales you will have access to and the terms vary by grocery store.

These programs are sometimes tied to other offers: like credit and debit cards that offer you store rewards (cashback or discounts) on the purchases you are already making.

If you're a frequent grocery shopper with a penchant for coupons, sales, and discounts, run (don't walk) to your local grocer and get a loyalty card right now to start saving money today.

Buy Only Items You Use and Keep Those Coupons Handy

It is easy to get a little carried when couponing. I mean, who wouldn't want 8 jars of mayonnaise for a $0.40 discount on each jar?! What am I missing? Oh yeah, it's important to consider if you will actually end up using all that mayo. Here's another example, once I bought three giant jars of apple sauce with coupons, only to realize that the shelf life of apple sauce in the refrigerator isn't very good. Each jar would go bad before my family had the chance to finish it. So, three jars of apple sauce later, we only consumed about the equivalent of one jar before tossing 2/3 of the applesauce we bought. Not a great deal!

Clutter is also an issue. You should strive to keep both your pantry and your coupon books (digital and physical) well-organized, and that's exponentially harder when you clip every "great" coupon you see. Long story short, if you're not going to use something or you don't usually buy it, don't get it with a coupon. Makes sense, right?

Also, if you happen to be clipping physical coupons, be sure that you put them in an accessible location. There is nothing more frustrating than getting to the grocery store and realizing that you left your coupon at home. I personally like to attach mine to the calendar hanging in the hallway so I can grab them on my way out. For you, it might be easier to keep them in your purse or put them in your car. At the same time, make sure you do not end up spending money on extra items you would not normally buy just because you have a coupon.

American Express Blue Cash Preferred
6% cashback on U.S. groceries
Show more
Everyday Rewards
1%
Annual Fee
$95
Recommended Credit:
690
850
Excellent and Good Credit
Highlights
  • After spending $1,000 in purchases, you will earn a $250 statement credit.
  • Receive 6% cash back at US grocery stores (up to 6,000 per year, then 1%).
  • 6% back on select US streaming services (Spotify, Netflix, Hulu, HBO, ShowTime, Pandora, apple music, amazon music or video **not prime membership*  (refer to American Express Website for full detailed list if need be).
  • Receive 3% cash back at  US gas stations.
  •  3% back for ground transportation only (bus, train, ferry etc. not airlines).

Combine Coupons With Sales

Some of the biggest deals come when you can combine coupons and sales. I have only been able to do this a couple times in my life, but I always get excited when it happens. For example, I had a coupon for $2 off a package of six bottled teas. Normally $8, they were on sale for $4. As a result, I paid $2 for an $8 package of bottled teas thanks to the dynamic duo of coupons and sales.

Just make sure you read the fine print on that coupon. Sometimes there are stipulations saying coupons and sales can't be combined. Also make sure to keep your eyes peeled when you're out and about. I personally have started to notice trends at my local grocery store, so I have a good idea when items tend to go on sale and if I should save my coupons at the ready.

In the end, couponing is an art, like many other methods for saving money. By using online coupons, knowing exactly what products you tend to buy, and combining coupons with sales for extra savings, you can quickly become a master couponer.