In the past, I’ve used coupons mainly for eating out, not groceries. The coupons I’d found for food were usually for higher end brand name items we wouldn’t normally buy. However, after watching Extreme Couponing on TLC, I was inspired to figure out how I could make couponing work for me.
Turns out it’s really, really difficult to get $600 worth of groceries for $2.64 (yup, one featured coupon cutter did just that!). In some areas of the U.S., stores have double coupon days, and apparently no limits on the number of coupons that can be redeemed at one time.
In Canada, few stores allow couponing with no restrictions. One store that is very permissive with their coupon redemption policy is London Drugs. They’ll permit the use of multiple coupons on one item, as long as the coupons are different. So you might have a $1 off coupon for Dove shampoo you found in a flyer, a $0.50 cent off coupon from an in store coupon pad, and another $1 off coupon from a different flyer. Combined, the $2.50 in coupons might not make the shampoo free at the $3.50 London Drugs price, but take in the flyer from Superstore advertising the shampoo at $2.50 and London Drugs will price match it. Apply your coupons, and voila! That shampoo is free.
There are a number of products you can get free – toothpaste, baby wipes, shampoo, razors, and body lotions being popular ones. That’s because there are plenty of coupons available for these items, and they frequently go on sale for low prices.
But where do you get these coupons? Here are some ideas from Canadian coupon blogger Mrs. January (http://www.mrsjanuary.com/frugal-living/where-to-find-coupons/). While some will come with your local newspaper or flyer delivery, and you may pick up more at your local store or online coupon sites, to obtain the volume you’ll need, you’ll have to start coupon trading, facilitated through a website like smartcanucks.ca.
As an experiment, I went on a hunt for coupons in my local papers and grocery stores. I amassed a decent little collection, sorted them by type, and started logging them into my profile on smartcanucks.ca, an online website for deal, contest and coupon junkies to try coupon trading.
Most importantly, I logged my time spent searching for and organizing my coupons. I spent about five hours researching how to stack coupons in Canada, and just figuring out how the smartcanucks.ca website works. I spent a further two hours collecting and sorting coupons from flyers that came with my newspaper and that I picked up while shopping. Finally, I spent an hour loading my coupons into a list to upload to smartcanucks.ca so I could start trading and getting multiples of coupons to stack. Whew! Eight hours in and not a penny saved yet.
Stay tuned for next week’s post, when I try couponing in action.