Mastering Coupons (Without Being a Coupon Nut)

I used to think that clipping coupons was a giant waste of time. “Coupons encourage you to buy extra junk that you don’t need,” I thought to myself whenever I saw a batch of coupons from the newspaper.

Then I had a baby, and I discovered the true value of coupons. Hint: if you buy diapers, baby food, and formula over and over again, coupons for diapers, baby food, and formula are as good as cash. It didn’t take long for this to spread out over our other purchases and now we have a nice hefty envelope full of coupons that we take on grocery ones with us (another tip: keep an envelope somewhere handy to keep coupons in so that if you see a useful one, you can just toss it in the envelope and look at it the next time you go shopping).

Here’s five quick ways to find coupons without burning a bunch of time hunting for them:

1. Pick up a copy of the Sunday edition of a major newspaper. There’s usually a few included sections of solid coupons. Clipping the useful ones takes just a couple of minutes.

2. Visit the website of your preferred grocery store chain before you visit. Many of them have coupon sections. I usually shop at Hy-Vee, which has a great coupon section.

3. If there’s something you buy a lot of, Google for it and add the word “coupon.” You’ll usually find something in the first few links. Around here, we buy a lot of Gerber baby food and Pampers diapers, so Googling for “Pampers coupons” or “Gerber coupons” usually points you to coupons or an easy method of getting them (like filling out a form or something).

4. Print multiple copies of any coupons that really wow you. We like to make frozen prepared meals about once a week, because we’re often stretched for time as it is and they are extremely easy to prepare. So when we found a $3 off coupon for Bertolli frozen dinners (which are quite good and very easy!), we printed a bunch of them and take one with us during each store visit.

5. Keep an eye out for double or triple coupon days at local grocery stores. There are a couple grocery stores nearby that have regular double coupon days; you can find out when they are by checking this list and then seeing if any of their chains (or subsidiary chains) are near you, then ringing the store to ask when they do them. Here, two different stores have double coupon days on different weekdays, so I often plan my shopping around these. I often get stuff for free (or very close to it) with double coupons – just yesterday, in fact, I got twelve containers of Yoplait yogurt (a popular item around my house) for four cents apiece.

Trent Hamm
Trent Hamm
Founder of The Simple Dollar

Trent Hamm founded The Simple Dollar in 2006 after developing innovative financial strategies to get out of debt. Since then, he’s written three books (published by Simon & Schuster and Financial Times Press), contributed to Business Insider, US News & World Report, Yahoo Finance, and Lifehacker, and been featured in The New York Times, TIME, Forbes, The Guardian, and elsewhere.

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