With the start of TLC’s latest “Extreme Couponing” season, it’s a good time to review some basic tricks the coupon pros use. Here are six ways you can save like an extreme couponer.
1. Start small. Don’t try to go extreme all at once. Take it step by step and learn along the way. Don’t show up at a checkout with 50 coupons and little idea of what you’re doing.
2. Never pay for coupons. Paying someone to clip or organize your coupons defeats the purpose of living frugally. Instead, surf Sunday newspaper ad supplements for coupon savings and ask your neighbors for their unwanted papers. Free online coupon sites like www.couponsherpa.com give consumers access to a multitude of printable coupons to thousands of merchants.
3. Get organized. A little organization can go a long way. Always create a shopping list and have your coupons and shopping strategy organized before you enter the store. Use an expandable coupon binder to sort coupon inserts by categories and expiration dates. Transfer to a small couponizer only those you’ll need for a specific shopping trip.
4. Location is key. Where you shop matters when making the best use of your time and coupons. Only shop at locations that allow coupon stacking and combining coupons with in-store offers. Don’t be afraid to call and ask about policies before you show up.
5. Loyalty rewards. Take advantage of club membership rewards. These programs are usually free and have many savings perks, like rewards points, cash back programs and double points for certain spending amounts.
6. Don’t be greedy. This is often where extreme couponers cross over into the world of hoarding. Only shop for items you actually need, and stock up on items that aren’t perishable or those you can donate. Remember, a bargain is only a bargain if you can actually use the purchase.
Tips courtesy of consumer savings expert Andrea Woroch, www.andreaworoch.com.