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Best Tips on How to Start Couponing

How to Start Couponing: The Best Tips For Beginners

Food is the most basic necessity in our lives, but it definitely doesn't come cheap. One of the easiest ways to cut down on all those crazy costs is as simple as finding a few coupons. All You shares some tips on how you can take off at least 15 percent of your grocery bill with these couponing pointers.

We get it: You're busy. You think the process is too time-consuming, but you'd do it more if it were easier. But if you use these strategies, you could save a minimum of 15 percent off the average monthly grocery bill for a family of four.

1. Step Up Your Game

Sign up for grocery-store loyalty cards. It takes only a couple of minutes. Then, even if you forget your card, you usually can get the discount prices on that week's sale items by simply giving your phone number at checkout. Don't want to carry around all your loyalty, rewards, and membership cards? You can consolidate them all on your smartphone with the CardStar app (free; Android, Apple).

Play favorites. If you frequent a grocery store such as Kroger, Publix, Stop and Shop, or Target often enough, it might start mailing you coupons for the products you buy most. This is one of the best ways to nab coupons for fresh meat and produce.

Access discounts. Many chains designate one day a month for seniors or members of the military to receive extra discounts. If you or a family member fits the criteria, go for it.

2. Find Coupons Faster

Before you head to the market, make a list. Then take a few minutes to scan websites including coupons.allyou.com, smartsource.com, and redplum.com. Search for your items, narrowing by category. You might find coupons for some of your favorite brands. What's online is a fraction of what's out there in newspapers and at the store, but digital coupons are just as valuable. Plus, they're easy to search for and remain online until the supply runs out. If you find a match, print it.

3. Score More With Tech Tricks

For online coupons, you are normally allowed two coupons per offer per computer. If you have a second computer, print two more. Yes, this is legal! The two-per-computer limit, set through a harmless "cookie," is how companies keep scammers from abusing the system and printing thousands.

Plus: Know how the back of your grocery receipt often includes coupons for local retailers? Go to the source. Check out rtui.com, which produces the tapes. Type in your zip code and choose coupons you like; the site will email them to you to print out.

4. Organize Your Coupons

Instead of stuffing coupons into an envelope (or just letting them float around in your purse), buy a checkbook-size accordion file at an office supply or dollar store. Because you don't have all the time in the world, sort your stash into eight or 10 categories, prioritizing the ones that offer the biggest savings. Nonfood products like makeup, hair color, feminine products, and cleaning supplies can be especially pricey, but the good news is that those items also tend to have higher-value coupons — greater than $2 in some cases — and you're likely to come across more of them. To keep your coupon collection under control, sort through it on the 1st of the month to remind yourself of what you have and toss out ones that have expired.

We love: 13-pocket textured coupon file, $9; at Staples.

— Laura Daily

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