7 Secrets for Saving the Most Money when Shopping with Coupons ...

Have you ever watched the Extreme Couponing show on TV and wondered how the contestants get so many freebies when shopping with coupons? You don't need to be an extreme couponer to get the same great deals on groceries, beauty products and household items. Throughout the last two years, I have taken my couponing to the next level and will share some simple tips on how I make the most of it when shopping with coupons. If you use these tips, you will begin building your grocery stockpile in no time!

1. Coupon Stacking

If you want to save the most money when shopping with coupons, you need to learn a practice known as "coupon stacking." All the big couponing gurus out there stack coupons to get free and almost-free items every week. What does this mean? Most major grocery store chains and discount retailers allow customers to use one manufacturer's coupon and one store coupon together when buying an item. Manufacturer's coupons typically display the words "manufacturer coupon" somewhere on the face of the coupon.

2. BOGO

I love "Buy One, Get One Free" deals because most grocery stores ring up each item at half price. This means you can use a coupon for each half-priced item. If you only have one coupon for that particular product, you can buy just one item and still get charged only half price for it. So, not only is the item on sale for 50% off, but on top of that, you can use your coupon. I can't tell you how many amazing deals I've found this way.

3. Double Coupons

Double coupons are another awesome way to save a boatload of money. Many grocery store chains double all manufacturer's coupons up to a certain face value, usually 99 cents. So, if you have a 99 cent coupon, you will get $1.98 off that item. I do the bulk of my grocery shopping at stores that double coupons every day because it saves so much money. Some grocery chains offer special triple coupon days, as well. One store, in particular, offers "Super Doubles" for one week every two months or so, which means all coupons with a face value of up to $2.00 will be doubled!

4. Overage

Not every store does this, but some do. If your coupon's value is higher than the price of the item, the store will subtract the extra money (overage) off your entire shopping total. This is one of the main strategies that extreme couponers use to get freebies and discounts on items that do not have coupons. If the store does not honor overages, the register should automatically adjust the coupon amount to match the item, after it is scanned. When the store honors my coupon's overage, it is like I am being paid to buy that item!

5. Printable Coupons

We have all seen the stacks of coupon flyers in the Sunday newspaper, but did you know there are hundreds of printable manufacturers' coupons available online, too? Although I use both types, I probably redeem more printable coupons because they often have a higher face value than newspaper coupons. However, make sure your printer prints the coupon's bar code clearly before you attempt to use it. Otherwise, the coupon won't scan properly at the register and it will probably be denied. There have been issues where people have tried to redeem fraudulent coupons printed from the internet, but if you print them clearly from a trusted source, you should have no problem. Coupons.com is a popular, trusted source to start with, if you are wondering where to find them.

6. Clearance Items

Using coupons on clearance and sale items is another way I get the most "bang for my buck." When an item is being discontinued, the store often slashes the price of it to clear the shelves. If I am lucky enough to have a coupon for that item, watch out! I have used coupons in this way to get countless boxes of free cereal, hair dyes and many other grocery, beauty and household products. I have only come across one store, in the last two years, that refused to take coupons for clearance-priced items. Most of the time, stores honor coupons for items that are already marked down.

7. Catalina Coupons

Catalina coupons are those coupons that print out at the register with your receipt. Make sure you pay attention to these coupons because they often offer freebies because of items you have already purchased. Before you get excited about stacking these coupons with manufacturer's coupons, I should warn you that Catalinas are usually manufacturer coupons. Although they appear to be store coupons, most of the time, they will say "manufacturer coupon" on the front. Also, many Catalina coupons will not double, so look at all the fine print before you use them. Actually, the same goes for all types of coupon.

Once you get savvy with your couponing skills, you will be amazed by all the incredible deals you find every week. Keep in mind that all stores are different, so it's a good idea to read the store's coupon policy online before you begin using coupons there. What is your greatest couponing success story?