There are many ways to save on grocery and drugstore items including menu planning, finding and organizing coupons, and using price books. The next step is to do coupon match-ups. This is the process of matching your coupons to items that are on sale in order to maximize your savings. The following steps will get you started on matching your local store's sales with your coupons.
1. The first step is to know what is on sale at the store where you will be shopping. Make sure to sign up to receive the ads through the mail -- or if the store has a website you can often print the weekly ad off the internet. Once you have the ad, read each item that is on sale and circle or "X" mark all the super discounted items. Next, check for items that are on Buy One Get One sales or that have group discounts, such as buy $25 worth -- get $5 off. And finally, mark items that you want to buy that are on sale.
2. The second step is to find coupons for the items that you circled. There are many free coupon databases online. Click on the database and type in the name of the product that you have circled on the ad. Many times, the fewer letters you use for the product you are searching, the better results you will get. For example, the item in the ad may be for a sale on Ultra Tide Powder Detergent. When you type in the database, just type in Tide and you will see all the results for Tide, including any coupons available for Ultra Tide Powder Detergent.
3. The database will display both online printable coupons and paper coupons. The printable coupons will have a link for you to click on and print the coupons that you want. The paper coupons provide the source of where you can find the coupon, the date it was available and when it expires. For example, a coupon for Tide could have been in the SmartSource newspaper insert during the third week in March. You can then go to your coupons and find it, depending on how you keep them organized.
4. It is best to search each item by name, print those that are available, and list the paper coupons with the source and the date. Then, when you've completed your search, you can go find the printed coupon that you need from your coupon stash.
5. You can then make a list of the best deals that you plan to purchase, group together the coupons that match your list, then head to the store.
6. If there is something on sale that you really want and you cannot find a coupon for it through the database, you can always search the internet for other resources that may offer a coupon. I generally start with the company website of the product that I want. For example, if there was no coupon listed in the database for Tide, I would then visit Tide.com to see if the website has one available, or on the Tide Facebook page. If I still cannot find a coupon, then I may decide to skip buying that product until I can get a better price.
7. Sometimes you may see a printable coupon listed, but when you click through to get the coupon you cannot find it or it is no longer available. This is because many times printable internet coupons have set limits as to how many can be printed and the limit may have been met. There is no way to know when this may happen and there is no database out there that can know instantly when to remove a printable coupon. It can be discouraging, but often times the printable internet coupons rotate and it could be available again in 60 or 90 days.
8. Understanding the coupon lingo on the database and coupon forums will also help you through the match-up process. The abbreviations that you will most often see in the database are the source of where the coupon can be found and are as follows:
- RP = RedPlum weekly newspaper insert.
- SS = SmartSource weekly newspaper insert.
- P&G or PG = Proctor and Gamble insert.
* For a complete list of popular couponing abbreviations visit the Understanding Couponing Lingo page.
Once you go through the process a few times and adapt it to fit your own preferences, you will see how easy it is to match up coupons. It will help you plan where you want to shop and allow you to save a lot of money.