Personal Finance

The Money Corner: Couponing 102 – intermediate to advanced


Last week I shared my couponing tips for beginners and I hope you all had a great time starting your couponing book and getting organized. This week, I want to take it a step further and provide some tips for those of you that are a bit more advanced.

Get It While It’s Hot (And Then Freeze It)

The secret to next-level couponing is stocking up on products at rock-bottom prices, which means items that you have a coupon for that are also on sale. A nice aspect of this method is that you always have what you need when you need it, rather than rushing to the store to pick it up. This works especially well for dry goods or items you can toss into the freezer for later.

For instance, a brand may have a promotion on ‘buy 10 products; get a $10-off-your next-purchase’ store coupon instantly at the register. When this deal is around, you’ll want to double up on your savings if the products are also on sale. I actually had the experience of once buying 10 packages of Oscar Mayer bologna on sale at $1 apiece while this deal was running. I paid $10 out-of-pocket, but then got a Catalina coupon to save $10 on my next store purchase. Yes, you can freeze bologna and trust me, free bologna just plain tastes better.

Stacking-Coupons and Rebates

When dealing with coupons, it is important to know the difference between a manufacturer coupon and a store coupon. Most stores will allow you to use both for the same item so keep your eyes peeled for stacking-coupon opportunities. Take it one step further with rebate apps such as Checkout 51, Ibotta (, and Saving Star allow you to save even more, and you can combine the rebates with your sales and coupons! Special promotions will also help you save more money and these can come in the form of manufacturer or store promotions. It never hurts to ask your local store’s manager about upcoming deals.

Stay Loyal

Don't miss out on the savings you can earn by joining store loyalty programs. Loyalty membership programs are especially popular at drug stores such as CVS ( and Walgreens ( and using these cards really helps you stack your savings. Not only can you use store coupons and manufacturer coupons on sale products in these stores, but you’ll also be rewarded for buying certain products every week. This is a great way to spend little to no money out-of-pocket for everyday essential personal care items.

For example, let’s say CVS has mouthwash on sale and there’s a promotion linked to your CVS card where buying $15 worth of Crest mouthwash gets you $5 in ExtraCare bucks back. Also, if you buy four units of mouthwash and reach the $15 threshold, you will qualify for the $5 ExtraCare savings. The real savings secret here is to collect store and manufacturer coupons that match up to the product you are purchasing. Let’s say the manufacturer coupons are $2 off one product, which brings your total down to $7.

As a loyal CVS customer, it is very possible that you also have a coupon available to you from the coupon machine in the store for $5 off a Crest purchase of $15 or more, making your total out-of-pocket cost $2 and you’ll get $5 back to use in the store for your next purchase. You just made $3 on your purchase – congratulations!

This example is just one of the many super-savings moments I’ve experienced. By taking your time and clipping the necessary coupons, don’t be surprised if you end up saving a lot more than you expected!

Kat's Money Corner is posted on Dollars & Sense every Tuesday. Tina Mapes is an assistant branch manager with CommunityAmerica Credit Union and a mother to three children. For more financial chatter, click