By Susan L. Moore, Family & Consumer Sciences Agent, UGA Extension Laurens County

If you’ve watched the popular television shows featuring extreme couponers, you may think you have to spend 80 hours a week clipping and organizing coupons to save money. It’s not realistic for most of us to spend that amount of time couponing. It’s also not a good idea to have outrageous stockpiles of food and products that you don’t have room for and won’t be able to use before they expire.

Most regular coupon clippers say they spend an hour or two each week clipping and organizing their coupons and putting together a shopping list once they are established and have built up a coupon stockpile. This allows them to save up to 50% or even more on their grocery bills!   

The best places to get coupons are from your local newspapers. Some papers have coupons in their Saturday issue, and some have them in their Sunday issue. Some couponers purchase a paper for each member of their household to maximize the amount of coupons they get. You can also ask friends and family members who don’t use coupons to pass them on to you. You should also pay close attention to the sales papers from local grocery and drug stores. If you have a coupon and the store has a sale on a particular item, you save even more money. For example, cereal is an expensive item that often goes on sale. By buying it when it’s on sale and using available coupons, you can cut the cost from $5.60 per box to $3.00 per box. That’s an average savings of $69.00 per year for a family of four. Coupons are also available over the internet. There are some great sites that offer printable coupons, and most stores accept them now. Here are just a few of those sites:

It is also important to sign up for the savings card memberships at your grocery store and drug store. This is an easy way to save money, and if you don’t sign up, you can miss out on sales and special deals. Many stores allow you to load electronic coupons on your card before you arrive at the store, so the savings are automatically subtracted from your bill when they scan your member card. Always read over your receipt before leaving the store to make sure everything is correct. You may have to go to the customer service department to get a mistake corrected, but it’s worth it – every little bit adds up! You should also watch the cash register – if a product rings up higher than advertised, or they miss one of your coupons, be sure to let them know.