Couponing is super easy and just requires some extra time when you first get started and are getting yourself organized. I usually spend an hour or two every weekend clipping new coupons and organzing them in my coupon binder and taking out the expired ones. Then I go do my regular shopping like normal...I just have my binder with me. (I'll do a another post showing my binder and explaining that more.)
How much money you can save varies by what stores are in your areas and what their coupon policies are. You'll get your biggest savings at stores that double coupons. Doubling is when a store doubles the face value of a coupon...for instance, you have a .50 cent off coupon and they double it making it $1.00 off. Which stores double and up to how much is totally up to the individual stores so call your local shops and find out what their policies are but keep in mind there are some areas that don't have stores that will double at all. In my area the stores will double any coupon with a face value of up to .50 cents, anything above that is just taken at face value.
Now the trick to saving the most money isn't just buying something with a coupon. You wait until an item goes on sale (typically hitting it's rock bottom price) and THEN you buy it, combining it with your coupon to maximize savings. Ok, I'm a visual learner so here's some pictures to help you understand some of the basics.
When a store has a Buy 1 Get 1 Free sale...keep in mind you do NOT have to buy two of the items to get the deal! What they do is simply slash the price of the item in half. For instance, Publix had Bugles and Chex Mix on sale B1G1. Normally they're $2.59 but with the sale they are $1.29 each. I happened to have a .50 cent off coupon and since my store doubles...they took $1.00 off, meaning the cost was only .29 cents!!!!
Stacking coupons. Most stores that have their own store coupons will allow you to use one store coupon in conjunction with a manufacturer coupon. (Again, check your store's policy.) This is an awesome way to maximze savings. Here CVS had shave gel on sale for $1.99. I was able to use the $1 off manufacturer coupon from the sunday paper AND stack it with the $1 off store coupon I printed off CVS' website. This made it FREE!
This was a fun find during the summer. My store had an unadvertised sale where the frozen lemonade was on sale for $1.00. (On 10 for 10 sales you do not have to buy 10 items to get the deal...each item is just listed at $1.00 whether you get one or five.) I had a .50 cent off coupon which doubled up to $1.00 making this FREE!
My husband's favorite soap. Normally $1.99 for the 2-bar pack, it was on sale for .88 cents. The store doubled my .35 cent off coupon making it .70 cents off, which made the soap only .18 cents!!!!
.It's super important to always check your clearance racks and bins! These Proglide razors are usually $8.49 but they were on clearance for $4.16. I happened to have a $4.00 off coupon which made them .16 cents!!! (Clearance sales are a reason why you should ALWAYS bring your binder with you.)
In this case I did not have a manufacturer coupon but Target has store coupons on their website. Lo and behold there was a $1.00 coupon and these cat treats happened to be on sale for .99 cents. You know what that means....FREE! I nabbed a couple to add to my box of pet food that I'm donating to the local animal shelter next weekend.
My store was running a great sale which made men's bodywash $1.99 (normally priced at $3.99). This makes it at it's rock bottom price so I used my $2.00 off coupon and it made them FREE!!
Super great sale b/c these things are normally super expensive. These were the large bags normally priced at $7.49 but were on sale for $4.99. I had a $3.00 off coupon which made them $1.99 each!!!
Hopefully this has given you a basic idea of how it all works. I buy my Sunday papers on Saturday afternoon (here they offer an early edition, it's probably available in your area too.) So the day before the sales I'm able to go through and clip my coupons and get them organized and in my binder. Then I go through the sales ADs and match up my coupons for the best deals. Keep in mind that it takes a couple of weeks to really get going and start saving the most because you have to build up a stock of coupons to use and eventually you'll be able to build a nice stockpile of goods at home and won't have to go out as often or buy as much.
Until that happens, my helpful tips would be to make sure you go shopping for your deals early Sunday morning before everyone else gets there and the shelves are empty and if you do happen to find a deal that's sold out....get a rain check! Also make sure you've found out your local stores coupon policy (I even keep copies in my binder) because more often than not, the cashiers are not properly trained and will sometimes tell you they can't take a coupon when they really can. Also, I highly suggest finding a good coupon blog to follow. This is especially helpful if you're a newbie. They do a lot of the work for you, finding match ups and posting them along with which coupon you need. I follow The Krazy Coupon Lady (http://www.krazycouponlady.com/) and they have a good beginners section there which will probably explain things better than I did. Happy Couponing!