Everyone knows coupons help save money at the grocery store. But, some coupons can be more harmful than helpful if they prompt you to spend more money than you normally would or if you end up buying things you don't need just because you have a coupon.
Purchase the smallest size of a product when using a coupon. If you have a coupon for $1 off, and the small size of a product costs $2 and the larger size costs $3.50, then buy the smaller size. You will only spend $1 total instead of $2.50. Buy the larger sizes when you do not have a coupon to take advantage of the lower per-unit cost. Remember, the goal of coupons is to lower your overall grocery cost, not to raise it.
Use coupons to buy items that you normally use. If you are already planning to buy a specific item, a coupon is the icing on the cake. If coupons make you purchase items, which you do not normally buy, are you really saving money? The exception is if the coupon truly is an exceptional value or the product is on sale.
Bring coupons for a variety of brands of the same product. Say you need dish washing detergent, and you are not particular about which brand you buy. Bring several coupons for different brands of soap, and use the coupon for the soap that ends up being the best buy. Flexibility about brand loyalty will help save money at the grocery store.
Shop at stores that offer double or triple coupons. There is no sense in using a 40-cent coupon at a store that does not offer double coupons when you could have gotten 80 cents off elsewhere. An exception to this rule-if you find a grocery store which does not offer double coupons, but it is so cheap in general that the overall price of a product is still cheaper when using a "regular" coupon, then switch to this grocery store!
Take all your coupons with you to the grocery store organized in an accordion file by product type. Even if you are not planning to buy toilet paper, the store may be having a phenomenal sale on TP, and you may want to buy a package. The deal is made even sweeter if you also have a coupon on hand for the sale item.
Consider the value of a coupon. If a coupon demands you buy a large quantity of an item, divide the amount of the coupon by the number of items to get the per-item discount. Then ask yourself if this a good deal. If you buy four boxes of cereal to get $1 off, you are only saving 25 cents per box for four boxes of cereal that you may not even need.
Consider generic products. Often they are cheaper than name-brand products, even with a coupon. This author finds generic flour, sugar, foil, sandwich bags, over-the-counter medicines, milk, cheese, canned veggies and rice to be just as good as their name-brand counterparts. Do not let a coupon lure you into buying a more expensive brand name if an equally quality generic brand would suffice.
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