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Extreme Couponing

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Save money at the register using coupons

Did you know that, thanks to coupons, you can not only get items for free, but you can sometimes even get money given to you just for taking a product out of the store? Using these simple tips, you'll be able to slash your grocery budget and put money back in your pocket.

The key to couponing is to be a strategic shopper. First, know how your store's savings programs work. This means you should pay attention to things like store policies in regards to doubling coupons, if they take competitor's coupons, if you can combine store and retailer coupons and when sales start and end. To maximize your savings, take the time to match up the coupons you have with the items that are on sale. For those who are really dedicated, make a spreadsheet of items you have coupons for and match them up to that week's sales.

You'll also need to know where to get the best coupons. In addition to newspaper inserts, there are many free websites that offer printable coupons, and there are coupon-clipping services, which, for a nominal fee, will clip and mail coupons to your home. However, if you prefer the newspaper, make sure to get a subscription rather than buy it each week from your local newsstand or convenience store. According to myfrugaladventures.com, you'll actually save quite a bit by doing so. While a typical Sunday paper can run anywhere from $1.50 to $5.00 at the newsstand, a subscription only costs around $20 a year or 38 cents per week.

As you collect your coupons, it is smart to keep a filing system so they are easy to find - cereal in one section, snacks in another, frozen in another - whatever works best for you. A small, expandable bill paying or check storage folder works well, or you can also buy coupon-specific organizers with pre-made labels. Organizers keep coupons easy to find when you are getting ready to shop, while you shop and when you are ready to check out.

Jessika E. Toothman, a staff writer for www.howstuffworks.com, suggests that you always keep the store's coupon policy on-hand while at the register. That way, if the cashier insists that you can't combine manufacturer and store coupons, you'll have the proof that you, in fact, can. When disagreements arise, Toothman advises, "Always remain respectful and polite. You might find cashiers and even managers who are simply unfamiliar with their store's coupon policy, and by being friendly and helpful about it, you're much more likely to achieve positive results."

Why not make couponing a family affair? It's a great way to teach your kids about budgeting and finance, all while saving you money at the checkout line. Allow younger kids to clip coupons and match up sales; for older kids, give them a crack at developing a budget. If you have the means, take the amount that you save each week at the grocery store and place it in a college fund.

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