You’ve probably seen extreme couponing reality shows from the United States and wondered how those people saved so much money?
While it is a reality show and a bit exaggerated, the featured couponers all had the same things in common – an organized system to collect coupons and a weekly plan which implemented their highest savings potential.
While couponing might seem outdated, saving money never is. These days, Canadians are paying almost 10% more for groceries than in prior years, putting a strain on household budgets everywhere.
Learning how to coupon properly can help cut costs and pad your bank account for savings or other unforeseen expenses.
But how do you get started? It just takes a bit of time and organizational skills. After researching the subject, I put together the following steps to help you get started with extreme couponing in Canada.
- Find coupons.
- Organize your coupon haul.
- Check your store’s weekly ad and know their shopping policy.
- Check out couponing apps that pay you to shop.
- Keep your stockpile organized.
Before you start, you should probably get your expectations in check. Most of the extreme couponers featured in reality shows paid only a few dollars for carts worth of groceries and household items. That’s not realistic, but it doesn’t mean couponing isn’t effective.
Instead, you can borrow lessons those couponers use and implement them into your shopping regimen. Staying organized and keeping an eye on weekly ads will help cut down your grocery bill and keep you stocked up with household essentials.
Source: Coupon Cutie
There are lots of websites out there now geared towards couponers. Take advantage of them and regularly scan them to find items you use. In addition, check out your local newspaper for coupon inserts. It’s often one of the best places to start if you’re a beginner.
You can also sign up for emails from brands you regularly use. Newsletters and mailing lists are great ways to add coupons to your stash. Don’t forget to check for coupons on product packaging.
Laundry detergent, cereal, and especially yogurt are all known to place coupons on the box or container.
I should mention that couponing is often a thrill. Getting a product for free or for half its worth is exciting, but you can overdo it. Couponing helps save you money on items you use all the time, so clipping coupons and purchasing things you don’t use or don’t need are doing the opposite.
Only clip coupons for items you regularly use, otherwise, you’re wasting time organizing them and wasting money buying products just because you can.
With that in mind, if you’re looking to start couponing, I’d recommend checking out these top sites for Canadians first.
- Savealoonie.com – This site has savings for almost any product you can imagine – fast food, beauty products, household and grocery items, it’s got it all. If you don’t want to print all the coupons, you can order them and have them delivered to your house.
- Smart Source – A top website for couponers, it’s on my list because you can search for savings by region, making it a more effective and time-saving tool. Plus, you’ll find deals on some of the biggest name brands.
- Save.ca – One of the best tools for all-around savings. You can search your local grocery store’s flyers, get recipes, and find savings tips all on one site.
- Tastyrewards.ca – This website is one of the first to offer savings to its users. Deals typically include popular food and household items. You’ll receive a weekly newsletter that hints at upcoming coupons and highlights current deals.
- Smartcanucks.ca – Sometimes, the best deals come from other couponers. While this website gives its users insight into current sales, its biggest benefit is the forum section, where other members can discuss and brag about their recent hauls.
Source: Bree The Coupon Queen
Any seasoned couponer will tell you that an expired coupon is a wasted savings opportunity. That’s why you need to stay organized. Now, you don’t have to be extreme like the people on the reality show, but you can take away some of their tips.
Maybe keeping your coupons in a binder is a bit too much for you. It’s also probably hard to haul it around the grocery store. But those binders work because they keep things organized, and that’s the key to success.
If binders aren’t your thing, invest in a folio organizer or use an envelope. Whatever makes it easier for you to keep track of your coupons and transport them back and forth from the stores.
Each week, your local grocery store will release its flyers showcasing product sales. This is your opportunity to sift through the pages and note the good deals that interest you.
From there, you can match up any coupons you have or go to one of the websites mentioned above and see if there are any corresponding coupons.
It’s a better deal if you can use your coupon on an item on sale, which is why it’s such a big deal to keep an eye on the local circulars.
In addition, many grocery stores accept coupon stacking, which is when you use a manufacturer’s coupon and a store coupon for extra savings.
Another huge savings is when your store accepts double couponing. Beginners might not understand how this works, so here’s a quick example. Say your favourite cereal costs $3.50, but this week it’s on sale for $2.50.
You have a coupon for $.75 off one box, and your store accepts double coupons. Because you can double your coupon, you’ll get $1.50 off one box of cereal, bringing the final price to $1 ($2.50 – $.75 – $.75).
That’s a big saving if you can use several coupons on various products.
However, using manufacturer’s coupons, stacking or doubling coupons all depends on the store’s policy. That’s why it’s so important to read up on the fine print before loading all your items on the belt.
You don’t want to be the one holding up the line because you didn’t come in knowledgeable about your store’s guidelines.
Not all savings are immediate. There are many apps you can download that will pay you cash back rewards or help you find the best deals around. Here are some apps to help your savings add up.
- Checkout 51 – This app lets you do your shopping and then get rewarded. All you need to do is scan your receipt and earn cash back rewards. This app will only get better when members can earn rewards every time they get gas.
- Flipp – What makes this app great is that it lets you view local flyers, plus it updates you on local trending coupons. You can create a shopping list, and the app will automatically show you the best deals in the area. Many of the coupons you find can be used with other apps, giving you the biggest potential for savings.
- Swagbucks – This app lets you shop online, take surveys, or play games, all while earning points you can redeem for gift cards.
Still not sure you found the app right for you? Check out these other apps for top money-saving prospects!
Source: Coupons with Alysia
As a beginner couponer, it’s probably hard to imagine amassing a stockpile that needs organization, but if you keep at it, you’ll find yourself doing just that. While that’s good news for you, it can mean trouble for your wallet if you aren’t careful and orderly.
Stockpiling helps you save money because you buy the products when it’s already on sale using your coupons. This stops you from purchasing an item at full price just because you run out, saving you money in the long run.
However, if you’re stash doesn’t have some kind of rhyme and reason, you won’t know which products are in it. Before doing anything, decide where to keep all your items – in the basement, garage, spare bedroom?
Once that’s established, how will you categorize them? You can break it down between food, household, laundry, etc.
Finally, keep an eye on expiration dates. Ensure the items that expire first are front and center, so you don’t inadvertently forget about them and need to throw them in the trash.
If you get so good at couponing that you’re building a stockpile too big for you, well, you probably need to reassess how much you’re buying.
But instead of just letting it sit around and get dusty, donate some of those extras to local food banks or homeless shelters.
Just like any other new hobby, learning how to coupon takes practice. Once you start seeing how much you can save during your weekly shopping trip, you’ll want to keep at it.
The biggest difference between those who succeed and those who don’t is patience and organization.
Knowing the weekly sales, your store’s coupon policy, and which coupons to use when is key to helping you reap the most rewards.
With grocery prices soaring, it’s not a bad idea to start couponing now. If you’re looking at other ways of saving during food shopping, check out these tips.