Couponing for beginners can be difficult. As you’re trying to figure out how to coupon, you may wonder if your effort is worth it – are you getting the best deals and really saving enough money to make couponing worth your time? The truth is that just because you’re using a coupon doesn’t mean you’re saving money. There are many ways things can go wrong (which will be covered in other posts), but for now we are going to discuss the process of matching coupons to weekly ads to get the best savings.

The problem with simply running to the store with coupons before planning your trip is that even though you use coupons, you may not be saving money. Here are the facts: most coupons are for name-brand items, and name-brand items cost more than store-brand items. Often times when you buy a regular-priced name-brand product with a coupon, you are still paying more than the store-brand. To a certain extent this is okay, because everyone is faithful to a few name-brand products. But for many products – take sugar for example – store-brand products are pretty much equivalent. Therefore, spending more makes no sense.

To better use your coupons, you should wait for the item to go on sale. Name-brand items that are on sale are often around the same price as the store-brand items (and often times lower priced). Add the coupon on top of it and you’ve scored great savings on your favorite name-brand products.

To start out with ad matching, beginners should choose one store. Locate the weekly ad online, or pick up an ad in the store to take home with you. When you’re home, give yourself time to write down (or circle) the products you are interested in buying, and then pair as many as you can with coupons. For those items that you wrote down (or circled) that did not have a matching coupon, you should compare the prices in the store to make sure you’re getting the best deal. Finally, if you bring extra coupons for non-sale items, you should also do a price comparison before you choose what to buy. Remain brand-loyal where you must, but in other areas, save money by choosing the store, or other alternative, brand.