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Your Guide to Coupon Shopping Tips, Techniques & Couponing

written by: Lucinda Watrous•edited by: Rebecca Scudder•updated: 3/30/2010

Some people don't take the time to bother with couponing, while others swear by it. Regardless of where you stand, coupons will help save money, even it's just a few pennies. Learn more tips, techniques and the practice of couponing.

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    What is Couponing?

    Couponing is the practice of using manufacturer's coupons to save money on the items you buy the most at the grocery store. While most people have now gone to using coupon codes at their favorite online retailers, there is still money to be saved through traditional clipping. There's even a new twist, with e-coupons.

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    Sources for Coupons

    First and foremost, there's your local newspaper. Sunday's ads are usually the best, packed full of different coupon inserts. Most local newspaper systems offer a subscription for just the weekend, if not a Sunday only option, to help you ensure you get all the coupons. Don't forget magazines you regularly read as well. You may be able to find out what coupons are in what magazine by doing a little research online so you don't spend money buying a bunch of magazines.

    After the local paper, try online. There are many different coupon sites that offer free printable coupons for your local area, based on zip code. You can choose to clip and print individual coupons, or an entire batch.

    Your local grocery store. As you walk through the store, you may find coupons presented on items or in a dispenser near an item. Though they may or may not help you with the current shopping trip, they are good to have on hand for the next one. Don't forget to check the sales paper for store specific coupon deals, too.

    Watch the commercials for specials run by companies promoting a new product. They may tell you to go online, to a specific website to print your coupon. You may have to spend a little extra in printer ink to take advantage of these deals, but many of them are worth it in the long run.

    Products you buy. Sometimes products will have coupons for another purchase, or the purchase of a related product. Keep them. Use them.

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    eCoupons

    A recent development, eCoupons are a wonderful way to save money, paper, and ink. If you are a uPromise subscriber, you may have already seen them. There are coupons for certain products on the website, and when you use the grocery store savings card attached to your account to purchase one of the items, the savings are automatically deducted from your bill. It's a wonderful way to go green while saving it, too.

    If you're not a uPromise subscriber, you may find your local grocery store has something like this program as well. If you visit their website and sign up to be on their mailing list, they may provide you with automatic coupons, too.

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    Coupon Matchups

    Coupon matchups are an excellent way to save money at the grocery store. A coupon match up is when you take your local sales papers for the grocery stores you shop at the most, and compare what they have on sale to the coupons in various locations. BeCentsable has what they call the Grocery Gathering, where bloggers have posted the coupon matchups for the week to show you exactly how much you can save. It is important to note that not all local stores will be provided, and not all matchups may be current.

    Depending on the deals out there and how savvy you are when you shop, you may get items for free and possibly earn money back.

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    Tips and Tricks

    • Get familiar with your local stores coupon doubling and tripling policies.
    • Don't use a coupon on something you don't normally buy, because even though it lessens the blow of the splurge, it doesn't really save you any money.
    • Buy in bulk when something is on sale and you have a coupon for it.
    • Plan your shopping list around your meals, which you plan around what's on sale. Look for coupons no matter what you're shopping for, because they may come in handy later.
    • Get a coupon organizer to help you keep track of it all.