First Things First!
Couponing can be very time consuming if you don't have an efficient system for organizing your coupons, coupon matching, and shopping. A little extra time spent before can save lots of time later!
I mainly shop at these stores during the school year:
Occasionally I will hit these stores when there is a good deal:
During the summer I will have more time shop at:
Target - I know there are great deals but it's not real convenient to my house and the store coupons AND manufacturers coupons take a little more time and effort to figure out.
First Things First!
The first thing you have to do is decide which store you like best and stick with it. My main store is Kroger, because I earn fuel points on my Kroger Plus Card, but I will hit Albertson's for stock up items when they are at rock-bottom prices. Walmart can also have some great deals, and I love to buy my produce and frozen salmon (awesome recipe forthcoming) at Aldi. All of these stores including Walgreens andDollar Tree are within 1 mile of each other so I don't mind going to several different stores. But you should do what you are comfortable with. Some people don't want the hassle of going to several different stores. For me, if I can get an item a lot cheaper (or free), it's worth it!
Once you decide which stores you will be using, print and learn their coupon policy. Each store is different so it's important to know what you are doing at each one. There is nothing more disappointing than a miscalculated shopping trip due to coupon policy ignorance. When I first started couponing I took a notepad with me to every store and asked the manager the following questions:
1) What is the doubling and tripling policy?
2) What is the limit for doubled and tripled coupons? (Some stores only allow 4 or 5 of the same coupon to be doubled or tripled.)
3) Are expired coupons accepted?
This basic information allows me to plan ahead and figure out which store has the best deals and most important: NO SURPRISES AT CHECK OUT!