I’m fascinated by the TLC show Extreme Couponing—and while crazy bargain-hunting is a bit much for me, I’ve incorporated some of the diehards’ strategies to cut my grocery bill by up to 36%:
- Start slow. Don’t try to clip every coupon and visit every store. You’ll burn out (or worse, spend too much). Start with one store and a few items, and build up as you get the hang of it.
- Go beyond the circulars. Check out sites like Coupons.com and SmartSource, and follow your favorite companies on Facebook and Twitter for bonus deals.
- Pile on the discounts. Shop at a grocery store that allows double coupons and more than one coupon per product. Join your store’s loyalty program to snag regular discounts in every aisle—plus coupons relevant to your past purchases, printed on your receipt.
- Time your buys. Remember these rules: Buy it only if it’s on sale, and combine the sale with a coupon. January is a good time to stock up on fiber-rich cereals and Lean Cuisines (thanks, New Year’s resolutions). Ironically, it’s also the best time to save on sodas and snacks (thanks, Super Bowl). Read this list from Living Richly on a Budget for year-round discount info.
Clip wisely. What’s your best-kept couponing secret?
Vanessa Richardson covers personal finance and small business issues. She lives in San Francisco.