Here are couponing tips from 16-year-old Chad Mallory:
Get the coupons
Where to look:
• Gather up Sunday papers: Buy some and ask friends, family, or co-workers for theirs.
• Internet printables: Usually, a limit of two of the same or similar coupon per computer from services like www.coupons.com.
• eCoupons/apps: Typically, you can use “clip2card” services through smartphone apps such as Saving Star and iBotta.
• Hang tags/“peelies”: Coupons attached to a product in the store.
• In-box coupons: Check inside the packaging for occasional coupons.
• Clipping services: Outfits like www.klip2save.com sell coupons for about 10 percent of the face value.
A binder is strongly suggested for beginners to sort coupons into categories.
To start off, you could simply use a three-ring binder, baseball card slots and tabs.
Personally, I prefer to group all Sunday papers by week. When I need a coupon, I can simply go back to that week of inserts and just cut out that one coupon out of each insert — saving a lot of time.
Look for sales
You have the coupons. Now what? Acquire your local sale ads and begin matching your coupons with sales.
Over time, you will come to know what is a good stock-up price and what is not.
Follow a blog
I highly recommend following a blog, such as www.freetastesgood.com, to break down matchups for store sale ads. Watch for the blog to list all the sales that match up with your coupons — even the printables. It can save you hours from looking thoroughly through every ad.
Eventually, you won’t have to use a blog; everything will just come naturally.
Learn store policies
Every store has its own coupon policy. It is important that you know and review their policies; it helps back you up when you get into arguments with these stores (which I’ve had plenty of!)
Bring a copy of each store’s policy with you to the store, because some stores don’t know their own policy very well.
Ask for rain checks
Unfortunately, products will be out of stock at times — so ask for a rain check.
A rain check will guarantee that you can have the certain product for the current sale price — even when the sale ends — and the store may decide to honor your expired coupons for that product.
Not all stores, however, take expired coupons with the rain check.
Work all of the angles
Using Giant Eagle as an example for making the most of a store’s potential discounts:
• Remember that the store will double coupons valued up to 99 cents, but $1 will NOT double to $2.
• There is frequently a 75-cent coupon for Colgate. The toothpaste often goes on sale at Giant Eagle for $1.50 (75-cent coupon doubled equals free toothpaste).
• The store has a limit of two “duplicate” or “like” Internet printable coupons per order and a limit of 12 duplicate coupons within 24 hours.
• The store allows you to use its eCoupons on its website and link them directly to your Giant Eagle Advantage card.