$ave BIG With Coupons

With the economy still somewhat in the slumps, it seems the value of a good deal is worth more than ever before! Gone are the days of overpriced gas guzzlers and gourmet groceries. Today, it’s all about saving a quick dollar or two, and getting the most out what you can afford.

Did you catch TLC’s “Extreme Couponing” special? The show followed four coupon masters as they meandered their way through the supermarket matching sales and coupons and ultimately saved thousands of dollars in the process!

Whether you’re a coupon novice or master, you can do the same. There are strategies you can take to ensure your bill is as miniscule as possible. In the world of couponing, an ounce of preparation is worth a ton of savings. Check out our tips on slashing your bills in half (or more) with these coupon tips:

Clip & Search – For decades the Sunday paper has been the gold standard for coupons, but today you can simply search and click for coupons on the web. There are a whole host of websites devoted to finding and printing coupons. If you’re pressed for time, there are several coupon clipping services that will mail you coupons for pennies per coupon. It may seem silly to pay for a coupon, but if it’s for a staple item in your house, it could be totally worth it!

Or Let Them Come To You – Tired of getting to the end of the check-out process online, only to find an empty coupon code box glaring at you? Makes you want to scour the web and find that code, huh?! Well, web publishers like Yontoo Technology Inc. have brilliantly created an automatic coupon-code generator called Drop Down Deals that literally “drops down coupon codes” from the top of your web screen when you’re on a site that has available coupons. It’s free to download and saves a ton of time and money! Click here to instantly download free Drop Down Deals .

Organize – Coupon clipping can turn into a huge mess fast, so make a game plan for organizing your coupons. You can use a binder, a set of envelopes or even one of the many coupon-organizing accordion files on the market.

Some people organize their grocery store coupons by category (such as dairy, cereal, etc.), but if you really want to save time, take note of the layout of your preferred supermarket and organize by aisle.

Some food items are just plain difficult to categorize (is frozen pizza dairy, bread, snack?), so having your coupons organized by aisle will help you when you’re actually standing in the aisle thinking “I could have sworn I had a coupon for that…”

Plan – Take an hour or so before you go grocery shopping to make a detailed list of what you need and scan your supermarket’s weekly ad for sales. Stores know what coupons are circulating and usually will have the same items on sale while the coupon is valid. Match coupons with sale prices.

While you’re just starting out, keep track of the prices of all your grocery staples. Determine what the rock bottom price is. The perfect time to use a coupon is when you know that item is at its lowest price. Every year like clockwork, seasonal items hit their lowest prices. For example, hot dogs, chips and dip are practically guaranteed to go on sale around the 4th of July and just before Super Bowl Sunday.

Store Policies – Many stores offer a “best price guarantee,” which is what it sounds like— they’ll match the lowest price you can find just about anywhere else. Do your research and you could save a ton of money on everything from TV’s and clothing, to groceries by pricing beforehand.

There’s An App For That – If you have an iphone, ShopSavvy is one of those apps that just makes bargain hunting easier. With the ShopSavvy app, you can scan the products barcode using the iPhone’s camera and get a list of prices from online retailers for comparison purposes. Works wonders at stores that have best price guarantees!

Double-Up & Combine – Many supermarkets still do double coupons. Meaning, if you have a coupon worth .50 cents, the store will take $1.00 off your purchase. Some supermarkets offer store coupons, which can usually be combined with a manufacturer’s coupon. If you can find a supermarket in your area with both of these policies, you’ll get the best savings!

Combining sales, double coupons and store coupons are key to getting items for pennies on the dollar, and price-matching is guaranteed to save you money!

Keep your eye on toiletries as well. Grocery stores often have huge sales on these products—the prices are usually even lower than drugstores. Extreme couponers know that with coupons, it’s very possible to never pay for toothpaste, a toothbrush or shampoo again—EVER! Can you imagine?

Coupon converts often say that once you get started, it’s addicting—it is! With a little time, organization and preparation, it’s amazing how much you can save. You’ll never go back to paying full price again.

Are you a couponing Mom? What’s the most you’ve ever saved in one shopping trip?

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