I am not, by any means, a couponer. I don’t have a coupon book. I don’t print coupons off the internet. I don’t spend hours figuring out how to stack my coupons together and get things for free. But I do use a few coupons every time I shop. I spend about 3 minutes collecting my coupons from a few smart places and I use them intentionally to lower my grocery bill. In this post I’m going to explain how to coupons without being extreme. I’ll tell you about the few coupons that I use, where I find them, and I how I use them.
HOW TO USE COUPONS WITHOUT BEING EXTREME
Coupons are not the main way that I save money on groceries. I shop with a plan, and create my meal plans and grocery shopping plans with sales in mind. The savings I get from using a couple coupons here and there are just an added bonus.
I spend very little time on coupons, but I’ve gotten some decent savings by using them so I think my strategy is worth sharing with you.
WHERE I GET MY COUPONS
I only use coupons from a few different places. I find them in easy to access places that require very little work. I would never pay for a coupon. I’d never even go out of my way to get a coupon. I use the low-hanging-fruit kind of coupons: very little work, pretty good rewards.
MY GROCERY STORE’S WEBSITE
My favorite place to find coupons is on the website for my local grocery store. Most grocery stores have online coupons that you can load directly to your loyalty card.
Every once in a while, these online coupons offer huge savings like $8 off your $60 purchase. So, if you were going to spend $60 anyway, that’s amazing.
I check my store’s website for coupons right on my phone after I make my shopping list. I quickly browse the coupons to see if there are any available for the things I need to buy that week.
I always check for the coupons that just take money off the top of your bill if you spend a certain amount, like $8 off $60. If I was going to spend $60 anyway, this is a GREAT deal.
I like that these coupons load directly to my loyalty card. I don’t have to remember to bring the coupons to the store. I just need to scan my loyalty card (like I always do anyway) and the coupons will come off automatically. Easy peasy.
PHYSICAL COUPONS FROM THE GROCERY STORE
Sometimes the grocery stores that I shop at regularly will also send me physical coupons in the mail. I get them for every store that I have a loyalty card for. They come on a little postcard and I just cut off the ones I want to use.
These can be awesome $5 off $50 type coupons also, so I will definitely use those. Or these physical coupons might be something like 50 cents off a gallon of milk. 50 cents isn’t as great as $5 off but, if I’m going to buy a gallon of milk anyway, it’s still pretty awesome!
As soon as I get these coupons in the mail, I cut out the ones that I’m going to use and put them right in my wallet.
This way I know I’ll have them with me at the store when I need them and I won’t have to worry about remembering to grab them later.
WEEKLY AD COUPONS
I always scope out the weekly ads because I plan my shopping around what’s on sale.
So, if I’m looking at the ad anyway, and I see a coupon for something that I was going to buy anyway, I’ll cut it out.
Again, I’ll put it directly in my wallet so I don’t have to worry about remembering to bring it to the store.
If I’m shopping somewhere that has a dedicated coupon book, like Whole Foods, I’ll pick one up on my way into the store.
I’ll just quickly browse through while I’m shopping to see if there are coupons for the items I’m buying. It only takes me a minute because I have my shopping list and I know what I’m buying.
STORE-SPECIFIC COUPON APPS
And if I’m shopping at a store that has a coupon app, I’ll use that app to apply coupons for things that I was going to buy anyway.
Target’s Cartwheel app is a great example of a store-specific coupon app. I like that it lets you browse by department, so I don’t even have to see the coupons for cute baby stuff if I’m there to buy a quick household product like paper towels.
Whole Foods also has a decent coupon app. It only has about 10 things listed at any given time so that makes it super easy to check for the things I’m buying.
These coupons are easy to use because you just have the cashier scan the app’s barcode right off of your phone as you’re checking out. Since the app is store-specific, the store’s cashier will be very used to this.
HOW I USE MY COUPONS
I intentionally do not spend very much time on coupons. I only spend a few minutes each week gathering a couple coupons that will be worth it for me to use.
Here is the most important thing about using coupons to save money:
Do not, under any circumstance, ever buy something you don’t need just to use a coupon!
You may have noticed a trend in all of the ways I gather coupons. I only look for coupons for the things that are on my shopping list.
My friends, this is because coupons only save you money if you were going to buy those things anyway!
You’ve really got to be intentional about this, because it’s such an easy trap to fall into. Coupons can seem like a good deal but you never save money by buying something you don’t need.
In addition to that main rule, I also make sure that I don’t spend too much time or energy on coupons. As I said, I never spend more than 3 minutes gathering my coupons. I don’t put a lot of effort into finding all the coupons because I know that for me my time is better spent creating a strategic meal plan and grocery shopping plan. I don’t want to make anything harder than it has to be.
HOW TO USE COUPONS WITHOUT BEING EXTREME
So, that’s how to coupon without being extreme. Find a few coupons in a few smart places, like the grocery store’s website, weekly ad, or store-specific coupon app. Use your coupons only for the items you needed to buy anyway. You can do it in a few minutes a week, with very little effort, and still have a impact on your grocery bill.
And if you want to save even more on groceries, be sure to sign up for my FREE Grocery Budget Challenge!
Keep reading about ways to save:
7 Frugal Habits that will save you Thousands
5 Lifestyle Changes that can save you $100 every month
3 Tips to cut your Electric Bill in Half
Frugal ways to Save Money this Spring
I hope these tips for how to use coupons without being extreme help you save a ton at the grocery store!
Amy @ Deliberately Here says
I am so grateful for the tips in this post! I’ve never been a couponer – the thought of spending all day clipping coupons has always been enough to turn me off of couponing altogether, but after reading this post I think I might give it a try using your methods so I don’t have to spend all day looking for deals.
this post was such a breath of fresh air, not overloading me with thoughts that i need to spend so much more time on couponing! thank you for your always doable tips!