I’m new to the game of couponing. Over the past 18 months I’ve had highs and lows (I don’t need to make coupon clipping a full-time job, for example). But the payoff can be huge! I will happily spend more than a year learning a new skill if it results in a big payoff (literally). And now I am eager to share my learning experience with others who are still new to the game. Read on to discover how to become a couponing expert (or at least ditch that amateur status).

The A-B-Cs of Couponing (Or: Things I Have Learned During the Past 18 Months of Extreme Couponing)

Allow myself time to shop. Don't rush through the aisles; I'm not in a race!

Bring my coupon binder to the store to snag any unadvertised deals (even if it weighs more than a baby!)

Clip my coupons and file them on a weekly basis so it doesn’t get burdensome!

Don't try to take advantage of every coupon match-up. Remember: I cannot do it all.

Expect to save lots of money on the products I buy!

Families and friends will give me their coupon inserts if I ask.

Generously give away products I buy or get for free. Sharing the blessings leaves me blessed as well!

Help someone else learn how to coupon.

Inspect coupons for "fine print" and expiration dates before shopping. How disappointing to have my coupons rejected when checking out!

Jump at the chance to get free samples.

KrazyCouponLady.com is my "one-stop shop" for coupon match-ups and deals!

Learn from my couponing mistakes and try not to repeat them (and, boy, have I made some dumb mistakes!)

Make friends with and be considerate to the cashiers at the stores I frequent, and call them by name.

Ninety percent off is nice, but it is not always attainable. I set my own savings goals of what is attainable for me in my part of the country.

Opt out of Rite-Aid's "load to card" program. I can better manage Up+ rewards when they are in my hot little hand!

Participate in rewards programs above and beyond simply using coupons (Staples, Walgreens, etc.).

Question the cashier or manager if I think an error has been made (even if my daughter gets embarrassed), but above all be polite and kind.

Remember to always send in and follow up on mail-in rebates.

Save gas by stopping to shop when on the way to somewhere else (school, church, etc.). I try to avoid extra trips that waste gas and eat up any coupon savings!

The clearance aisles and carts in the store are great places for me to find deep discounts and use coupons!

Understand the stores' coupon policies as they vary from store to store and can change frequently.

Value my coupons and treat them like cash money, because they are money in my pocket!

Wal-Mart does not always have the best price, although before extreme couponing I used to think they did!

eXpect to feel overwhelmed when first couponing. I learned to set boundaries and limits to my clipping and shopping.

Young couples need lots of household products to set up house. Make up a huge gift basket of products to help them get started!

Zero is the best price to pay. "If it's free, it's for me!"

 This has been a guest post by Lisa from Grass Valley, CA
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