Despite the proliferation of digital savings sites such as Groupon, paper coupons are still out there en masse. So we consulted Jen Kugler—head of the Colorado branch of Coupon Sense, which offers 50- to 70-percent savings at major grocers and drugstores for a monthly membership fee of $15—for her tips on getting the best returns. couponsense.com
- Research. Know your local store’s coupon policies. Most grocery chains in Colorado have a “three like” coupon limit per transaction, so you can’t use, say, five Cheerios coupons at the same time. Grocery stores usually double coupon values up to a dollar, and some stores also price match.
- Stock up. A coupon discount on top of a sale price is known as a “stock-up price.” Or, combine two coupons—the store’s and the manufacturer’s—to save even bigger. If you like a store’s savings booklet, grab three and reuse the same deals again and again.
- Pace yourself. You don’t have to be an extreme couponer. Figure out what works with your schedule. Maybe your “express” clipping saves you $20 a week as opposed to $200. But hey, savings are savings.
- Be efficient. Choose two stores—go with a grocer and drugstore, as they tend to have different product deals—and stick to those for your regular routine. It’s not worth it to run all over town for a couple of items.
- Stay organized. A “coupon caddy” with accordion-style filing lets you label the sections with store names and file your coupons so you can efficiently access them at checkout.
- Don’t waste. If your “couponed” items start piling up beyond usability, or you don’t need the additional item from a “buy one, get one” offer, donate your extras.