The Art of Couponing

      You don't have to be an extreme couponer to save money on your family's grocery bill. Couponing mom Katie Cusick taught Helen the basics of couponing.

      1. Get coupons!

      The main way to get coupons is from inserts inside the Sunday paper. The number of inserts varies each week. Another way to get coupons is to print them out from the Internet. Katie recommends printing them as you find them and adding them to your organizer. Some grocery stores now have the option of loading coupons onto your loyalty card. Once loaded the loyalty card can be scanned and the coupons are automatically taken off your total bill.
      2. Get organized!

      Get something to organize your coupons in; don't just put them in a pile. Keeping them organized will save you the most money. Sales go in cycles so to save the most money keep your coupons until the item you want goes on sale. Keep a pricebook, this is a book that has a list of common items your family buys as well as the price that you normally pay. Take this to the store with you so if something is on sale you can compare the regular price you pay with the sale price. The deal might not be worth it. One of Katie's biggest tips for being organized, leave the kids at home!
      3. Know your stores policies

      Before going to the store with your coupons know each stores policies on coupons. One policy to check on is stacking coupons. This means that you can use both an in-store and manufacture coupon on the same item. This is the most effective way to save money with coupons.
      4. Make a plan

      Always make a list before you go shopping. This will keep you on track and aware of what sales and coupons you will be using. While you are shopping you may find that an item you have on your list is sold out. Talk with customer service to see if you can get a raincheck on the item. This means you can come back at a later date and get the item at the sale price. When heading out for your shopping trip make sure to take all your coupons with you (this is why it is important to organize your coupons!). You never know when something might be on sale that was not previously advertised.
      5. Checking Out

      Always watch the cashier when checking out. Make sure that items are rung up at their sale value and each coupon is scanned and recorded by the computer. Point out any mistakes you see and never be afraid to ask questions.
      6. Build your stockpile

      Building your stockpile takes time. If you are getting a good deal on an item it is best to get enough for several months of use. Only buy the items that you family uses and needs. Many items have expiration dates that you need to be aware of. If you have items you will not be using consider donating them to a local food shelter.