Manufacturers don't print coupons out of good will, they print them to get you to buy and possibly switch to their products. Use your shopping list as a guide to coupon clipping for maximum savings.
The Simple Dollar, a financial and frugality blog, shares some tips for getting the most value from coupons. The secret is using your grocery list as a filter for your coupon clipping.
Rather than simply looking through lists of coupons and identifying ways to "save" on items I don't really need, I start with lists of the things I do need or truly want independent of the coupons.
In other words, I do use coupon flyers and coupon sites, but I don't bother to look through them unless I'm looking for something specific.
So, for example, I'll look through coupon flyers once I have my grocery list together. I'll look at coupon sites once I've come up with a gift idea or two for a friend or family member or when I'm considering a specific purchase.
This mentality is effective for all sorts of deal-driven things like deal-hunting websites, coupon sites and other places where discounts are aggregated. If you browse the site casually, you'll find all sorts of discounts on things that weren't even on your list but the deal is too tempting to pass up. By using your list as a guide to which discounts and coupons you'll even accept you greatly increase your chance of not overspending just because a product comes with a coupon.
Have your own tips or tricks for getting the most out of coupons? Let's hear about it in the comments.
The Challenge of Couponing [The Simple Dollar]