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We've all seen the Coupon Queens on various television shows and been amazed at how little they paid for a ton of grocery items. Sometimes you may even wonder how on earth she can care for her family when it seems she bought thirty packages of pasta and nothing to go with it. The truth is, she didn't need the pasta sauce, she picked up thirty jars of that last week, when it was on sale, and she was getting it for free or pennies with her coupons.

The trick to saving the most money on groceries is to be a stockpiler. To do this, you need to gather as many coupons as you can for items you know you will use, match them up with a store sale, and then buy as many as possible while you are getting the items cheap or free. Using this tip, you can make sure you have enough of the needed items without having to pay full price.

Coupons and sales tend to cycle and once you try it for awhile, you will learn the cycles for your area and know when it is time to stock up. By doing this you will have enough supplies on hand, so you can wait to pick up more when the item is on sale again, and you have a coupon to go with the sale.

And there we come to another issue that some people don't understand, you can use a coupon in conjuction with a store sale. They are two totally different promotions, so you aren't doing anything fraudulent. You simply cannot combine more than one manufacturers coupon on a single item, but if you put ten items on the conveyor belt and have ten coupons, then that is fine as long as your store permits it. Some stores do set limits on how many like coupons they will accept on one order so always check before doing your shopping. You can also combine a store specific coupon with a manufacturers coupon to realize even more savings.

If you have a store in your area that doubles coupons you can really save some money. Some stores double up to 50cents and some to 99cents, thus giving you $1 or $1.98 off. This is another store policy you will have to inquire about before shopping, as it varies from retailer to retailer.

One of the most important tips that I tell everyone who asks me about my couponing and how I save so much money is to FORGET BRAND LOYALTY! I know there are occasional exceptions where some products suffer in quality between brands but this is not the rule. One brand of tissues will wipe your nose as well as another, and if you can get one for less than $1, and the other is over $2 a box, then by purchasing the one you're getting cheapest, you're putting that money back into your wallet for something else. If you are like me, disabled with no disposable income, then every little bit you save can mean another meal that comes home for your family.

The best place to find coupons is in your local Sunday newspaper. Generally, there are two inserts each week, except for holidays, and some weeks there are manufacturer specific coupon inserts. If you find your local paper doesn't have them, then try looking around to find an out of town paper for the coupon inserts. Each week, I buy at least one early paper, which is available in my town Saturday evening. I browse through the coupons, and if there are good coupons, and I know I will save more than what I am paying for the paper, I will go out the next day and buy another stack. You are not limited to only one paper and one copy of each coupon.

Another great place to find inserts is your local newspaper recycling center. Many people do not use coupons, millions of dollars worth are thrown away each year, so with a little digging you can find a real treasure trove. By searching online or visiting message boards, you can also find links to printables, or people who are willing to trade the ones they can't use for other coupons, or for a small postage and handling fee.

When you first get into couponing, you will spend the same, or maybe even a little more than you did before on groceries, but once you build a little stockpile you will suddenly see the savings add up. It makes a big difference when you run out of shampoo and can just run to the closet and grab another bottle that you got for free, instead of running to the store and spending almost $3 for a replacement bottle.

Yes, it does take some time and effort, you have to organize your coupons, be willing to store hop, and spend a few minutes to review the sales flyer, and match it with your coupons, but you can quickly turn couponing into a great hobby as well as money saver.

Verleen Wonderly is a published freelance writer and has worked for http://www.dealoftheday.com since its inception in 1999.
 
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