There’s no need to begin chasing after every deal at each store. Every store has its own “coupon policy,” a specific set of rules that tell you what types of coupons are accepted, whether coupons of any value are doubled, whether you can use more than one coupon on an item, and every other rule in the book! Attempting to learn the ins and outs of every store can get very confusing; if you start with just one store, you’ll save a lot of headache!
Stores not to choose
There are a few schools of thought regarding which store you want to start with. But there is one thing that’s certain and that is which stores you should not choose!
Do not try extreme couponing by exclusively shopping at:
- Wholesale Clubs (example Costco) can be fun places to shop, and if you’re terribly devoted, then I’m not telling you to quit cold-turkey. All I’m saying here is that a wholesale club is not the sort of store where you want to start trying to use coupons. Costco and Sam’s Club do not even accept manufacturer coupons, so you wouldn’t get far!
- No-Frills stores (example WinCo) are characterized by a few things. These stores typically have you bag your own groceries, they do not circulate weekly sales flyers, and their mantra is one of “low prices every day.” Though this store will accept manufacturer coupons and they may have the cheapest groceries in town, you’ll find that you can save more when using your coupons at a different kind of store!
Choose these stores
There are 3 types of stores from which you can choose to shop with coupons:
- High-Low grocery stores (examples Kroger or Safeway) are the kinds of stores that you might think have generally higher prices. This is actually true! The regular shelf prices at these stores may be inflated, but the key is to shop only the sale priced items. These stores circulate their weekly ads, filled with gimmicks, bargains and sales! Once you use your coupons on a deeply discounted product, you’ll start to see what we call “stock-up prices.” When we’re able to buy an item for 75% off shelf price, we know it’s time to buy! If you’ve got hungry mouths to feed, we suggest you start by finding your local high-low grocery store, watch the store circular for deals, learn the store’s coupon policy, and start matching your coupons with sale items!
- Drugstores (examples Walgreens, CVS and Rite Aid) are where some of the best coupon deals are found every week! By stacking manufacturer coupons with store promotions, you can walk out with a grocery bag full of nearly free health and beauty items each week! The drugstores offer some of the best deals, and most complex coupon policies. This is why it’s so vitally important to just choose one store to start; master it before you move on!
- Supercenters (examples Target and Walmart) are a decent place to begin your extreme couponing journey. Target and Walmart have relatively uncomplicated coupon policies. Both stores match competitor prices, which makes them a viable option for coupon shopping!
Once you get the hang of one store, then you can add on one more, then another and another. Eventually in the space of one month, you may be visiting a store from each of the following categories. The best part is, you never have to shop more than you want! I have the most success by choosing one high-low store and one drugstore. I buy most of my food items at the high-low store and most of my health and beauty items at the one drugstore. I occasionally visit a supercenter to round out my monthly shopping, but that’s about it!
Once you have established a stockpile of your most-used household items, you can reduce your shopping trips even more! I only shop once per week, and I usually do so at just one store. The extreme couponing learning curve is a bit steep at first, but the curve is short. Once you get the hang of it, it’ll be smooth sailing. It can be minimally time consuming and totally enjoyable. Just beware, the savings are addicting!