The Art of Coupon Cutting

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Clipping coupons has become a competitive sport. There are even entire TV shows dedicated to scoring the biggest discount. Long gone are the days when you hid your coupon envelope out of shame; now you can proudly brandish it at any cashier who denies you the right to double coupons. If you know the do’s and don’ts of couponing, though, you won’t have to. Check out our list of pro tips for cutting coupons.

Know where to look for coupons—and look often.

Coupons have gone digital. In fact, there are so many coupon websites that it can be difficult to pick a favorite. You should, though. If you have too many coupon websites bookmarked, you’re bound to miss a good deal. Start simple, perhaps with a website like that compiles coupons of all types. Make sure you check it at the beginning of every month, as some manufacturers only give a limited amount of coupons to distribution websites like these.

Don’t trash junk mail immediately.

Yes, coupon websites may be handy, but don’t underestimate the old-fashioned process of taking scissors to paper. Keep an eye on “junk mail” for fat envelopes that look like they likely contain coupons. Check the Sunday newspaper and any newspaper inserts. Stop at the coupon dispensers scattered up and down grocery store aisles and see what they’re offering.

Combine coupons with sales.

Using a coupon on an item that’s already on sale is basically hitting the jackpot for avid coupon clippers. Make sure you keep an eye on the fine print, though. Some coupons don’t apply to sale or clearance items. If they do, however, then you should thoroughly scour your supermarket’s weekly circular to see if you have a coupon for any of the upcoming items on sale. If it’s an item you don’t need immediately, wait and see if one pops up.

Learn the rules for double coupons.

Many stores have special double (or triple) coupon days, on which the cash register automatically doubles the value of any coupons you bring. However, some stores only apply the automatic doubling to coupons up to a certain value (typically one dollar). Make sure you know the ins and outs of your store’s doubling policy so that you won’t have to get into it with the cashier when you’re in line.

Plan meals around coupons.

Coupons are only helpful if you can apply them to groceries you’re actually going to use. So when you clip coupons, think about what you can make with the loot you plan to gather. If you end up with a bunch of coupons for stuff you never buy and can’t use, it might end up going to waste anyway.

Get organized.

When you’ve reached Extreme Couponer status, you need the right supplies. First and foremost, invest in a binder or file folder. You’re going to find that old coupon envelope tearing pretty quickly. Organize your coupons by category or in alphabetical order. You can always just pluck the coupons you need and leave the binder at home when you’re ready to grocery shop.

8 tips for online coupon clipping [Bankrate]
How to Coupon Effectively [About Money]
Beginners — Learn How to Coupon [The Krazy Coupon Lady]

Attribution: CC BY 2.0/ Flickr/Leslie Stanton