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extreme couponing 101: FAQs

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I do my best to respond to as many questions, comments, and emails as I can, but unfortunately, there are many times that I just can’t get to them all.  I promise it doesn’t mean I don’t like you!  I love reading all your questions and comments, and even if I can’t always answer directly, I hope you’ll keep ’em coming.

But because a lot of the same questions keep popping up,  I thought it was high time that I put together a list of frequently asked questions.  Hopefully this will help clear up any confusion you may have about certain things, and if you have additional questions, please leave a comment below.  I will try to update this list with more answers as often as I can.

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I want to save money with coupons, but I don’t know where to start.  Can you help me?

Yes!  Start here, with the LWSL Beginner’s Guide to Coupons.   It is an eight-week course that breaks down the whole process into manageable “baby steps.”

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Where do I find the free eBook  you mentioned in your videos?

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How can you use so many coupons at one time?  Mine all say “One Coupon Per Purchase.”

A single item is considered a “purchase,” so “one coupon per purchase” really just means you can use one coupon per item.  Every once in a while, a coupon will state “one per transaction,” in which case you will only be able to use one at a time.

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How do you save money on meat and produce?

Honestly, I save the most money on meat by not buying a whole lot of it.  I am vegetarian, and while my family is not, we usually end up eating a lot of meatless meals.  If cutting back on meat is not an option for you, then try to save on meat by watching prices and stocking up as much on possible when there is a good sale.

As far as saving on produce, you can check out my tips here for 7 Ways to Save on Produce.

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What is a money maker?

When the value of the coupons you are using for a product total more than the price of the product, you have a “money maker” situation.  Different stores deal with this differently, but at many stores you can use the “overage” to help pay for the remaining items in your transaction.  Utilizing money makers is one of the main ways that “extreme couponers” boost their savings percentages!

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What stores offer double coupons in Florida?

As far as I know, there are no stores that offer Double Coupons in Florida.  I have heard that it is because of a State Law that prohibits changing values or prices, but I have been unable to verify that information.  I have also heard that it is because there is no competition among grocery stores in Florida, but that is unlikely because Winn-Dixie and Publix compete against each other and both stores double coupons in other states.  In any case, there are no double coupons in Florida.

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My store doesn’t double coupons!  Can I still save money?

Of course!  Even without double coupons, I consistently save 70-80% or more on my grocery bill every single week.  If you don’t believe me, you can check out my weekly shopping results here.

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Where do I get coupons?

Find out where to get coupons here.

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What is a coupon matchup?  How do I match my coupons to the sale prices?

A coupon matchup is simply just a list of a store’s sale prices that are matched up to currently available coupons.  The “trick” to saving a lot of money with coupons is not just using them whenever you want, but waiting until an item goes on a great sale and then “matching up” a coupon to the sale to save even more, and to get that item at a “rock bottom” price.

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How will I know if something is a good  price for stockpiling?

Read more about rock bottom prices and get a free printable Rock Bottom Price List here.

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Why do you have to do multiple transactions at the drugstores?

The three main drugstores, CVS, Rite-Aid, & Walgreens, all do promotions each week featuring their own “drugstore dollars.”  (Extra Care Bucks, Register Rewards, & +Up Rewards.)  The key to saving lots of money at the drugstore is learning how to “roll” those drugstore dollars into your next drugstore-dollar netting transaction, thereby spending the least amount of out-of-pocket money as possible.

If you are new to using coupons, I suggest you first get comfortable with the grocery stores before attempting the drugstores.

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Help!  My coupons won’t print!  Can you help me?

I know very little about fixing computer & printer problems, but here are a few troubleshooting tips you may want to try if you are having trouble printing coupons from any of the printable coupon sites:

-Run any software updates that may be available for your computer.

-Check to see if there are any software updates for your printer

-Update to the latest version of Java

-Try using a different web browser.  If you have a Mac, use only Safari or Firefox.

-Check your firewall settings.  If your firewall is set too strong, your coupons may not print.  If you use a wireless router, also be sure to check the firewall settings on your router by connecting your printer directly to the computer.

For problems printing from Coupons.com, click here.

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What is the difference between a store coupon and a manufacturer’s coupon, and why can I use both together?

A store coupon is issued by a specific store and will have the name of that store on it.  It can be used at that store ONLY, unless you shop at a store that allows competitor’s coupons.  It may or may not have a barcode, depending on the store.

A Manufacturer’s Coupon (MQ) is issued by the manufacturer of a specific product.  It will generally state “Manufacturer’s Coupon” somewhere on the coupon, has a barcode, and can be used at any store that accepts coupons.

Stores will usually allow “stacking” of both a Store Q and a MQ because while the store bears the cost of their own coupon, they are reimbursed by the manufacturer for MQs.  Because the cost is split between the store and the manufacturer, both are allowed.

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What do I do if something is on sale 3 for $5, but my coupon is for $1 off 2?

3 for $5 (or 10 for $10, etc.) sales, unless they specifically say “Must Buy 3 (or 10) to Get Sale Price” is a fancy way of getting you to buy more of an item.  Thus, a 3 for $5 sale really just means that something is on sale for $1.67 (not quite as catchy, is it?) , meaning you can buy only two and use your coupon, making them $1.17 each.

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I don’t have a big family.  Can I still benefit from using coupons?

Everyone can benefit from using coupons!  It doesn’t matter if you are single or have a huge family, have dietary restrictions or eat mostly organic.  Granted, the degree to which you save might not be as significant as someone (like me) who is very strict about buying and eating ONLY what is on sale, but any savings is better than none.  You can still use the methods and techniques outlined in this site to buy the things that are right for you and your family, in a quantity that is reasonable for the size of your family.  Saving $25 a week of your groceries will put an extra $1,300 a year in your pocket.  That is a lot of shoes!

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What do I do if my coupon expires before I can use it?

Don’t expect to use all your coupons.  Don’t even expect to use half of them.  The key to extreme coupon savings is matching up a coupon to a great sale price.  Lots of times, a coupon will expire before a sale comes up.  And that is okay.  More coupons and more sales will come along, and there will always be more match-ups.  But if you want to do something useful with your expired coupons, consider donating them to the troops, who can use coupons expired up to 6 months at the Commissary.

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Is it okay to print my coupons in black and white only?

Yes.  You will save a lot of money by printing your coupons in black and white.  I only ever print in black and white and I have never once had a problem.

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I am afraid to print too many coupons because printer ink is so expensive!  How can I save on printing coupons?

If you are serious about saving money with coupons, then I highly recommend investing in an inexpensive black & white laser printer.  I personally use the Brother HL2140, but you can purchase the slightly newer Brother HLL 2300Dfor less than $100.  A high-yield toner cartridge costs about the same as an ink-jet refill, but will last anywhere from 4 months to a year.

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How do you organize your coupons?

The way I keep my coupons organized has evolved over the years, and will probably continue to evolve as time goes on.  I started by using a Couponizer book, then, as my coupon supply got larger, eventually switched to using a filing system, which I wrote about (and made a video about) here, where I filed my entire inserts by date and then clip only the ones that I needed for a particular shopping trip, based on my coupon matchups.  I would still use my (Couponizer-currently out of print.) You can try the Krafty Coupon Organizer to store your printables and loose coupons.

Several months ago I decided to try out the binder method, which I wrote about here. While I liked having all my coupons in a portable, ultra-organized format that I could take with me everywhere, I found that clipping ALL my coupons every week was just too much maintenance for me.  So now I use a hybrid system that combines the Qubie binder method with the filing method; I use the Qubie to store all my printables, loose coupons, and any super high-value coupons that I notice when the new inserts come out on Sundays.  Then I still file the whole insert by date and find the coupons that I need when I make my shopping list.

Don’t be surprised if the way you sort and organize your coupons changes over time too.  For more information on where to find these items, go here.

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I don’t understand all these acronyms and abbreviations!   Can you please translate?

Click here for the Coupon Lingo Guide.

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There are no good sales this week!  What should I do?

Slow weeks happen at every store.  Once you have established a stockpile, you will find that you can “ride out” a slow week without much difficulty.

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Why can’t I find a coupon you have listed in my weekly insert?

Coupon inserts can vary greatly by region, with larger metropolitan areas getting “better” coupons than rural areas.  If you find that you were missing a specific coupon that you really want to use, you could try ordering it from a clipping service.  I have personally used The Coupon Clippers a few times to order coupons that I missed out on.  Each time, my coupons arrived in 2 days.

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I’m still only saving 30-40% at the grocery store.  How do I save more?

Mega-saving (70-80% or more) on a regular basis takes time.  You need to first establish a plentiful and varied stockpile, as well as a good supply of coupons.  You also need to commit to buying only what is on sale each week.  A few non-sale–especially milk, eggs, dairy, & produce– or impulse items will really affect your bottom line.  I personally almost always buy milk at CVS using Extra Care Bucks, and I usually buy eggs at Walgreens using my Register Rewards.   But be patient and consistent, and you’ll get there.  And remember, ANY savings is better than none!

Click here for a more in-depth article on maximizing your coupon savings.

12 Comments

  1. May 18 at 04:41PM

    Thanks for all the good tips! I’m pretty new at this, and I always learn something from your site. I do post about my coupon savings on my blog….they’re not huge, but as you say, any savings is great!

  2. Kellie
    May 18 at 05:56PM

    Thanks so much. The rock bottom price list is really helpful! I love your site. You help make all of this so much easier.

  3. Tanya
    May 18 at 10:48PM

    Love this addition to your blog. I know I will be referring to it again and again. Thank you!

  4. Alisha
    May 18 at 11:11PM

    Your site is extremely helpful to newbie couponers like myself! But I’m curious to know how exactly you do it all. Where do you find the time to do all your couponing, go shopping, keep your blog sites, Facebook page, and YouTube channel up-to-date, cook & clean, be a mommy & wife….the list goes on and on! You must be Super Woman or something! 🙂 But seriously, how did you start it all, if you don’t mind my asking? For example, how do you know which coupons are in which inserts, how do you find all the coupons to add to your database, & where do you get all the upcoming store ads? Your sites spoil me by doing all the research & hard labor for me, but at the same time I have a Type A personality and like knowing the mechanics and process behind things. I can’t just know that it works, I have to know how and why its works! Yes, very annoying, I know. But if you’re ever willing to share how you run your one woman ship, I’d love to know! 🙂

  5. Karen in NC
    May 19 at 02:36AM

    Ruth, this is an awesome post. I’ll have quite a few May coupons that will expire. How can I get them to military personnel to use them? That sounds like an amazing idea! We have lots of military instillations here in NC, so I’d love to contribute to them.

    • Ruth
      May 20 at 09:02AM

      Here is the link to the Overseas Coupon Program: http://www.ocpnet.org/

      You first have to “adopt” a base, then you can fill out the form and fill an envelope. Hope that helps!

  6. May 19 at 01:31PM

    I had the funniest dream that you and your husband through a huge party. You bought like 100 bottles of expensive wine and I managed to ruin every bottle. It was a disaster! So sorry. 🙂

    runningtobeskinny.com

    • Ruth
      May 20 at 08:56AM

      LOL, I forgive you. 🙂

  7. Shaidy
    May 19 at 05:39PM

    Ruth – You already know that I think you are brilliant. But this one tops the cake. This is going to be so helpful to so many of us. Thanks again!
    Continued Blessings to you and your family!
    Shaidy

  8. Breeanna
    May 27 at 02:04PM

    I found the video! But where is the coupon match up tab that you click on in your video? I do not see it accross the top bar.

    • Missy
      June 20 at 04:24AM

      For the coupon match up tab, scroll down a little ways, look to the left, and it’s right above the “lovely followers” section. Hope this helps.

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