Extreme Couponing

How to save £100s by taking couponing to the max

extreme couponing
"I got £105 worth of shopping for £1.62!" Welcome to the world of extreme couponing.

Done right, extreme couponing can slash your grocery bills and help you bag countless freebies. To help, we've put together a step-by-step guide, including how to find the best coupons and tricks 'n' tips to maximise savings.

In this guide

What is extreme couponing?

Extreme couponing isn't about cutting the odd voucher out of a mag. It's about putting in the hours and systematically grabbing hundreds of coupons, then deploying them in the most effective way possible. It's hard work - but do it right and you could walk away with stacks of food, toiletries and more for a fraction of the normal cost.

The term 'extreme couponing' was originally coined by the popular US TV series of the same name, which showed enterprising folks buying food worth $1,000s, often at an incredible 100% discount. While you're unlikely to achieve quite the same level of success this side of the pond, this guide will help you take shopping with coupons to the max.

Don't forget, sign up to our weekly email to get alerts about the latest and greatest coupons. 

'I got £105 of shopping for £1.62'

There is a reason it’s called extreme couponing, and that’s because some take it to the extreme to make huge savings on their shopping.

It’s not for everyone, it takes a lot of time and effort. But to inspire you and show how lucrative it can be, we wanted you to introduce you to MSE’s Coupon Kid Jordon Cox, who has been an extreme couponer for four years.

MSE Jordon's extreme couponing success...

Over the past few years, I’ve done some HUGE coupon shops - my biggest ever was when I hauled £600 worth of groceries through the checkout and paid 4p!

This had taken months of rounding up coupons in preparation, and I’d carefully pinpointed the right time to buy, so achieving this kind of result isn’t easy, and couponing at this level isn’t for everyone. It’s really only possible if, like me, you treat couponing like a second full-time job.

On the other hand, if you don’t mind paying a little bit more than 4p, virtually anyone can make couponing a hobby and routinely save £10s or £100s. Let me tell you about the time I got £105 worth for £1.62...

This one still took about three weeks but would’ve been manageable even for those with busier schedules. It’s still a 98% discount, which certainly got my heart racing at the checkout.

So how did I do it? Well, I started by printing out every coupon I could find online for products my family could use (no point in printing dog food coupons for a non-existent dog). Some of the printed coupons for this shop included 50p off Fairy, £1 off Finish and 50p off Cushelle.

But what took this shop to the next level of extreme couponing was the handful of coupons I’d blagged for myself directly from manufacturers. These are the high-value gems that take a bit more effort to get – and a bit of imagination – but this is how you get the biggest payback.

Sending love letters to companies, and writing them poems, is how I managed to wangle over £70 worth of coupons to my door, including £3 off Quorn, a free pack of Jordan’s cereal (aptly named) and £4 off Purina cat food.

On top of all this, the whole shop was perfectly timed to take advantage of as many supermarket offers as possible. Patience is a virtue when couponing.

For me though, it’s worth every minute. Nothing makes me happier than barely paying anything for a trolley piled high with groceries.

Everything else you need to know about this amazing hobby is in the guide below, so what are you waiting for? Happy couponing!

While not as big, more recently, Jordon got £68 worth of shopping for £5. Yet our Coupon Kid's not the only one, and if you stick with it and learn how to maximise your gains, you can end up saving £100s time after time. Some of our users have had amazing successes. Here’s just a couple of their MoneySaving stories:

I got £67.24 worth of shopping for 11p after store offers and coupons. I did use my employee discount but I think this is totally doable just with coupons. I used £39.50 of saved Clubcard coupons, £5 off £40, a price promise coupon and Rustlers, Rice Dream, Genius bread, Penn State, PEK Jungle Dogs and Wall's coupons."
- Purple Sarah

Went to my local Tesco yesterday and got a free pack of Clover butter, free Always liners as well as other discounted stuff. The total price should have been £48.32, but with my coupons it came to just £19.60 - that's a 59% saving!
- Supersavingmummy

Before you get started

To really understand the art of extreme couponing, you need to know there are three main breeds of couponer:

  • The Casual Couponer. Most of the time, this type of couponer pays for a full trolley, perhaps handing over a couple of coupons they happen to have in their wallet or purse. This won't save a fortune, but it's still worth doing to shave a couple of quid off your bill.

  • The Skilled Couponer. The Skilled Couponer saves on most things they buy because they follow two principles: buying things that are discounted and wherever possible combining that discount with a coupon. Saving at this level takes more effort, but only a few hours every now and then.

  • The Extreme Couponer. The dedicated Extreme Couponer employs many of the same techniques as the Skilled Couponer - but takes it up several notches. This breed isn't content just to use a manufacturer's coupon (eg, 50p off Heinz Tomato Ketchup). They add in a store coupon at the same time (eg, £5 off £25 at Tesco).

    If they find a good 'un, they'll get their hands on even more coupons, then return to the store several times to buy even more items and stockpile them.

Why do companies offer these savings?

Make no mistake. Supermarkets don't offer coupons out of the goodness of their hearts - it's an integral part of their money-making strategy. The promotions are part of what we call a double-barrelled 'capture and exploit' approach:

  • Capture. Here the aim's to attract new customers who wouldn't otherwise shop there - normally with discount vouchers and codes, or hefty discounts on a small range of items.

  • Exploit. This is about targeting existing customers, with the dual aim of making them feel they're getting better value to promote customer stickiness and trying to encourage impulse spending through promotions on attractive luxury items.

Quick question

  • Possibly - but probably not. Extreme Couponing is TV entertainment, remember, so it focuses on the most dedicated couponers you'll ever see, who take the art of couponing to the nth degree. It's also shot in the US, where couponing is a whole different ball game - stores there have really embraced the idea to a much greater extent than in the UK.

    That said, as the examples above show, there are massive bargains to be had here as well. Even if you don't quite get your shopping for free, the savings on offer can definitely make the extra hassle involved well worthwhile.

Hold your head up high

Don't be ashamed to use coupons, even when it takes up a long time at the till. Remember, as long as you're following the rules, you're entirely within your rights to use them.

Couponing got me through some hard times. I'm not ashamed I use coupons - I'm proud of it!
- WishI'dreadsooner

I print money off coupons from MSE and never go shopping without knowing exactly where is the cheapest. My monthly shop is way under our budget every month.
- Alwaysafterabargain

Extreme couponing: the basics

While the art of extreme couponing takes time to master, it's easy to get started with these 10 basic tips.

Where to find coupons

Coupons are everywhere - they're easy to miss if you're not looking out for them, but keep your eyes peeled and you'll start seeing them all over the place.

  1. Printable coupons

    Printable coupons are the main way to get your hands on them in the UK. There are often at least 50 available for you to print. Most require you to download a coupon printing software - it's safe, it just makes sure the barcode is able to be scanned. Once you've downloaded the software, you won't have to again.

    Here are some of the best sites for printable coupons:

    MSE's coupons page - Not that we like to blow our own trumpet, but this site is a great place to start. We put all the best coupons and code-stacking loopholes in the weekly email. Our Supermarket coupons page also has a regularly updated list of legit coupons - check our Discount Vouchers page too.

    Supersavvyme.co.uk - This is a Procter & Gamble owned website that has coupons for P&G products, including toiletries, pet food and cleaning products. They will not give you money off any food, unless cat food gets you purring! Coupons will default to a cashback option (which you can claim by uploading a receipt of your purchase to the website), though if you want a printable coupon, be sure to select that option after adding the coupons to your basket.

    Caringeveryday.co.uk - This is owned by Johnson & Johnson, which offers a range of health care products. It has new coupons about once a month.

    Victoria.co.uk - Another P&G owned website that occasionally provides printable coupons and free samples of P&G products to claim.

    MSE Jordon's quick trick...

    Most printable coupons are one per computer, but some coupons featured on the brand’s own websites can be printed twice per computer with different serial numbers, so it’s completely legit. To check if you can, simply come out of the coupon page and click back in. You'll be told on screen whether you have reached your print limit or not.

  2. Magazine/newspaper coupons

    Coupons in newspapers and magazines aren’t as common as they used to be - but they do occasionally crop up, mostly in the following:

    - Free in-store supermarket magazines – Every month, major supermarkets bring out a free magazine, some of which have coupons in. Tesco has coupons monthly, and other supermarkets such as Waitrose, Asda, Morrisons and Co-op have them occasionally. The Sainsbury’s mag will set you back £1.60 but they do have coupons in, though it’s best to have a look to see if it is worth the money you spend.

    - Newspaper coupons – The best newspaper to pick up coupons in would be the Metro, and luckily for us couponers - it's free. Inside, you'll find coupons for free products periodically as well as blanket £5 off £40 spend coupons for supermarkets such as Aldi and Lidl. They don't pop up all of the time, but it's worth picking up a copy on your morning commute and flicking through just in case. Aside from the Metro, coupons rarely pop up in other national newspapers, and if they do, they'll generally be advertised on the front cover.

    Before you a buy newspaper or mag just for coupons, always weigh up whether you'll actually make a saving. If the coupon's worth less than the paper costs, think twice. Check out MSE Jordon’s blog on how buying The Sun newspapers for a £5 Morrisons voucher would've left him £7 out of pocket.

    See the forum's Magazine offers thread to see when any coupons crop up and keep an eye on the forum's daily newspaper threads (you'll find a new one each day on the Discount Codes 'n Vouchers board) to see what's out there.

  3. Manufacturers’ coupons

    The most desirable and sought-after coupons, as most of the time these are high-value and sometimes get you a freebie. There are several ways to get them, but it does take a bit of effort:

    - Love a company? Let them know! – If you buy the same brand every week and love it, tell them that. If they are in the right mood when you send them an email, you might get a coupon sent to you in the post for money off. MSE Jordon made over £75 in coupons and freebies in one evening by praising brands.

    MSE Jordon's quick trick...

    The more effort you put into these the better. Companies love it if you go all out by sending a selfie, poem, or draw a picture, and they're more likely to send you coupons if they can see you've used your imagination. I once received £20 worth of coupons for sending a love poem to my favourite drinks company, yum.

    Here's an example of a poem you could send to a favourite company:

    (Company name), (Company name), you are a dream,
    Not anyone else can be more supreme,
    Oozing with joy and bursting with flavour,
    Every single day you are my saviour.

    - Anything wrong? Let them know! – Brands and companies need your feedback. If there's genuinely something wrong with a product you've bought, don’t be terribly British and sit back… let them know and they will often send you coupons or a replacement. Make sure you hang onto the faulty product's packaging, as the company may ask to see it.

    - Competitions – Your favourite brands may hold competitions for coupons on their social media. Some of the best companies for this are Dr Oetker, Kerrygold, Wyke Farms Cheese and Chicago Town. Most of these only require you to comment or retweet, so it’s worth a go.

    Warning! Never pay for coupons. Some Del Boy types still sell coupons online. You'll often see £5 off Bold vouchers, for example, on eBay - they're copies made from original vouchers sent to people who complimented or complained about products. 

    If you try to use them, you'll be turned away - and you could leave yourself open to prosecution for fraud.

  4. Sign up to loyalty cards

    There are hundreds of loyalty cards and signing up to the ones for the stores you visit at least once a month is worth it as some send coupons out of the blue.

    Some of the best loyalty cards for perks and coupons:

    - Tesco Clubcard – Sends you vouchers periodically and Clubcard statements quarterly. Can be exchanged for rewards at 3x the value of the voucher. Tesco’s system tracks what you purchase to send you coupons to suit your shopping needs.

    - Sainsbury’s Nectar – Doesn’t send you vouchers but money earned from the card can be exchanged for rewards for more than original value. Can also be used on your supermarket shopping.

    - Boots Advantage – You get its magazine for free each month by using your card plus you get coupons sent in the post periodically. There have been some freebies in the magazine before, always work a look.

    To learn more about these loyalty cards, look at our Loyalty Card Boosting guide.

  5. Review products for coupons and freebies

    Websites such as Bzz Agent and Tesco Home Panel are great for sending you freebies and coupons… all you have to do is write a review of the product they send you. To get the most coupons and freebies possible, the more effort you put in, the better. Take photos and share on Facebook & Twitter for invites to review more products for free.

  6. Grab cashback on your phone

    Cashback has been a growing trend over the last few years. With cashback apps, you sign up and use digital coupons to claim special offers on specific grocery items. They get paid for generating extra sales, and pass some of this cash back to you.

    There are a few major cashback apps you can download that will save you money, CheckoutSmart, Shopmium and Green Jinn. It works by browsing through the offers, going into store and buying one of the products on offer, then taking a photo of the receipt (to prove you have bought it), then you should get your money back.

    The amount you’ll get back depends on the individual offer, but sometimes you’ll get the full amount back and there are often freebies to claim. To find out more, checkout MSE Jordon’s cashback video guide.

    MSE Jordon's quick trick...

    Look on these apps on special events in the calendar such as Pancake Day and Easter. There will usually be a freebie or discount. Last Pancake Day, there were over £8 worth of freebies to claim on the CheckoutSmart app.

    How to use them effectively

    Okay, so you have the basics down of where to get them from, but it’s no good if you don’t know the best ways to use them to save the most.

  7. Price compare your shopping

    To truly prosper as an extreme couponer, you're going to need intel to tell you where products are currently on offer. Fortunately, there are free online tools that can help.

    Supermarket comparison site Mysupermarket* checks many major stores including Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury's, Aldi, Iceland, Waitrose and Boots to tell you at a glance what's cheapest where. You can even set price alerts to notify you when a selected product has gone down in price so you know when to pounce.

  8. Get stacking

    No, we don't mean helping to restock the shelves at Sainsbury's. In couponing parlance, 'stacking' is a clever way of combining offers (such as coupons and sales) in one transaction to really chop down the price.

    Not all retailers and coupons allow stacking, and sometimes it's a temporary glitch. The general key to this is to use a manufacturer's coupon alongside an in store offer or coupon.

    Here are some coupon stacking tips and tricks:

    - Combining coupons with store sales - It’s all well and good using a 50p off coupon for a £2 product, but if you wait for that same product to go on sale at half-price (£1) and then use the 50p off coupon, you’d only pay 50p! See where we’re going with this? One of the major supermarkets have a sale on one specific item on average every two weeks. Most coupons last for a month, so if you hold out for a deal you will save a lot more.

    - Combining coupons with cashback - Remember the cashback apps mentioned earlier? You can combine that with coupons, providing that they are for the same product.

    - Combining coupons with cashback AND sales - The Jenga tower of stacking! There are sometimes deals which can make you a profit by combining all of these offers.

    - Use coupons on yellow-stickered items - The reduced section is where items which are broken, being discontinued or nearing their sell-by date and are being sold at a fraction of the price. They'll probably have a sticker on them (usually yellow or orange/white) and there may be a few different reduced sections (especially for refrigerated items). If you can match a coupon to an item here, you could pocket a bargain (providing it is still edible). Check out our guide to yellow stickers.

  9. Terms and conditions: the need-to-knows

    Every coupon has some kind of terms and conditions, so it is important that you understand what they mean. These sometimes causes confusion when it comes to couponing so here are the most common terms you will read and what they mean.

    - One coupon per product purchased - You can use as many coupons as you’d like as long as it is one coupon for each barcoded product.

    - One coupon per transaction - You can only use one coupon on each receipt for a specific item.

    MSE Jordon's quick trick...

    There's a way round this one. When you go the checkout, use the dividers that usually separate different people’s shopping to separate your own shopping into multiple transactions. Cashiers usually will not bat an eyelid, but a smile and being polite goes a long way.

    - One coupon per customer - Pretty self-explanatory. The way around it is to bring more people shopping.

  10. Only buy what you need

    The whole purpose of coupons is for the manufacturer or supermarket to get more sales on their items by handing out discounts. The way for you to REALLY save money is to only buy what you need, will use or want to try.

    If you go and splurge on products that you will never use just because you have a coupon for it, you really aren’t saving money at all. Search and source the coupons you can use for things that you would normally purchase to start couponing like a pro.

    What really sorts the extreme couponers from their casual/skilled rivals is letting the coupons dictate to you what brand you by. This might slightly contradict the above, but if you can adjust your shopping basket to the best deals with coupons and don’t mind brand switching, then you can usually save a lot more.

  11. Try downshifting

    Don't be hoodwinked into 'upshifting' - buying a more expensive brand than you actually want - just because you've got a coupon. For example, if you're a devotee of Asda's 40p own-brand chocolate buttons, you won't save cash by upgrading to a £1 premium brand simply because you've got a 20p-off voucher.

    Even better, take our Downshift Challenge. Try dropping one brand level on everything you buy, then see if you can tell the difference. If not, switch to the cheaper one. To inspire you, try our fun Downshift Challenge Tool. Tell it where you shop, how much you spend and the proportion of each brand you buy (premium, manufacturers', own-brand or basic) and it'll crunch the numbers. Many can save £1,000s

Pushing couponing to the extreme

Fancy yourself saving more money and pushing your couponing to the max? There is so much more for you to learn to cut your grocery bill.

  1. Hunt for coupons everywhere you go

    There are other coupons around that can save you money, so be sure to have beady eyes when out and about to spot them:

    - On packaging - Some products in the supermarket have on-pack promotions that give you coupons. This can be in the form of stickers, tags or inside-the-box codes.

    - At events - Big events such as the Ideal Home show are a great place for coupons. A lot of brands come to these events to give out free samples and coupons.

    - Wombling - A slightly off-the-cuff way to get coupons is to pick up those others have discarded in their trolley or the supermarket car park. As long as they're not linked to a specific loyalty card, you can pick them up and use them. Price promises usually work best. There are questions as to whether it's legal though, see our 'Wombler raises money via old receipts' news article.

    - Bus tickets/cash machines - Sometimes those pesky pieces of paper can have coupons on. Whenever you withdraw money from a supermarket ATM or get a bus ticket - flip the paper around to check if there is a coupon on the back.

  2. Study supermarkets' policies with a fine-tooth comb

    As a coupon anorak, you may sometimes find you know coupon rules better than shop assistants. Coupon policies differ by supermarket, and sometimes by offer too, which means it can be notoriously difficult to be certain about what exactly's allowed. To help, we've asked nine supermarkets to tell us what their rules are... with mixed success.

    The policies below set out the rules at Asda, Co-Operative, Lidl, Sainsbury's, Tesco, Morrisons and Waitrose - they come directly from the companies' press offices and represent official policy. Not all of them have responded to our most recent requests for an update (Feb 2016), but we've dated each of the below so you can see how current the info is.

    If Aldi and M&S ever get back to us, we we'll add them in here as soon as possible.

    • @Asda

      Last updated: Feb 2016

      Q. Does Asda accept all coupons?
      A. Yes, in line with the T&Cs

      Q. Can you use coupons on reduced stock (such as damaged items/things that are nearly out of date, etc)?
      A. Yes

      Q. Do you have a magazine with coupons in?
      A. Our customer magazine Good Living occasionally includes coupons.

      Q. How many coupons can you use in one transaction?
      A. As many as are valid – so as long as it relates to a qualifying product that is in the basket, is in date etc. We adhere to the T&Cs, so if it's one coupon per one product then that is the restriction that will apply.

      Q. If the bill comes to zero, is that ok?
      A. Yes, but this would be rare.

      Q. Do you need to buy the exact product mentioned in the coupon?
      A. Yes

      Q. Do coupons need to be in colour if printed?
      A. No – if they're internet coupons printed in black and white, that's fine.

      Q. Will you ever give money out if you hit minus figures?
      A. This situation is unlikely to occur as coupons usually relate to one coupon for one product.

      Q. What's your policy on people using other peoples' vouchers or loyalty cards? What if it's a discarded voucher or coupon from the car park?
      A. Yes - we are aware of 'wombling' but we don't really see it happening at our stores.

      Q. If an item is BOGOF, can you use two coupons?
      A. We don't do BOGOFs.

      Q. If it's one coupon per transaction, are you allowed to split your shop into two or more to get maximum coupon use?
      A. It's usually one coupon per one product so there's no need to.

    • @TheCooperative

      Last updated: June 2015

      QCan you use coupons on reduced stock (such as damaged items/things that are nearly out of date, etc)?
      A. Coupons that can only be used on specific products can be redeemed against reduced stock, as long as they are like-for-like. Money-off coupons which do not specify any product can also be used on reduced stock.

      Q. Do you have a magazine with coupons in? How often does it come out?
      A. Customers can find a great range of coupons in the Co-operative Foodmagazine, which is available for free in selected stores nationwide. The bi-monthly magazine, which is also sent out to our members, includes a range of recipes and news articles.

      Q. How many coupons can you use in one transaction?
      A. This would depend on the coupon terms and conditions, which are found on the back of each coupon. These T&Cs outline the limitation of the number of coupons that can be used per transaction.

      Q. What's your policy on stacking coupons and deals?
      A. This policy would be outlined on the individual coupon terms and conditions. However, customers can redeem their coupons as well as taking advantage of store promotions, eg, buy-one-get-one-free and half-price offers.

      Q. If the bill comes to zero, is that ok?
      A. This would be fine.

      Q. Do you need to buy the exact product mentioned in the coupon?
      A. If the coupon is for an exact product then the coupon could only be redeemed against that line. This would not apply to general money-off coupons.

      QDo coupons need to be in colour?
      A. As part of our own terms and conditions, original coupons are valid and photocopies are not accepted.

      Q. Will you ever give money out if you hit minus figures?
      A. The terms and conditions of the coupons outline that no change will be given.

      Q. Do you have a raincheck voucher system?
      A. We inform our store staff as to which coupons are live at the time.

      Q. What's your policy on people using other peoples' vouchers or loyalty cards? What if it's a discarded voucher or coupon from the car park?
      A. Coupons in the Co-operative Food magazine are available to the general public, so can be exchanged as long as they are in their original format. However, many of the member coupons are linked with their corresponding membership card, so will not be accepted without that card present.

      Q. If an item is BOGOF, can you use two coupons?
      A. This would be fine.

      Q. If it's one coupon per transaction, are you allowed to split your shop into two or more to get maximum coupon use?
      A. This would be fine.

    • @Lidl

      Last updated: Jun 2015

      Q. Can you use coupons on reduced stock (such as damaged items/things that are nearly out of date, etc)?
      A. Yes, although most of our vouchers are 'spend X, get Y off'.

      Q. Do you have a magazine with coupons in? How often does it come out?
      A. Yes, sporadically throughout the year.

      Q. How many coupons can you use in one transaction?
      A. We would ask that customers check the T&Cs on each voucher.

      QIf the bill comes to zero, is that ok?
      A. This is unlikely as our vouchers have a minimum spend.

      Q. Do you need to buy the exact product mentioned in the coupon?
      A. Yes, if the voucher is product-specific although we would ask that customers check the T&Cs on each voucher.

      Q. Do coupons need to be in colour?
      A. No, they can be in black and white, however they must be original vouchers.

      Q. Will you ever give money out if you hit minus figures?
      A. No.

      Q. Do you have a raincheck voucher system?
      A. No.

      Q. What's your policy on people using other peoples' vouchers or loyalty cards? What if it's a discarded voucher or coupon from the car park?
      A. As long as they are original vouchers, we will accept them.

      Q. If an item is BOGOF, can you use two coupons?
      A. No.

      Q. If it's one coupon per transaction, are you allowed to split your shop into two or more to get maximum coupon use?
      A. Yes, as long as you make the cashier aware at the start of the transaction, unless the specific T&C's of the voucher being used suggest otherwise.

    • @Morrisons

      Last updated: Feb 2016

      Q. Does Morrisons accept all coupons?
      A. We accept all Morrisons coupons and money off coupons from suppliers that we can claim back. We do not accept other retailer coupons. We do not accept digital coupons.

      Q. Can you use coupons on reduced stock (such as damaged items/things that are nearly out of date, etc)?
      A. It depends on the specific coupon - if it is a product coupon, for example, 50p off a pack of teabags, then you can't use it on reduced tea bags – but if the coupon is a basket level coupon, eg, £5 off when you spend £40, then so long as you spend £40, you can use it on reduced stock.

      Q. Do you have a magazine with coupons in? How often does it come out?
      A. No.

      Q. How many coupons can you use in one transaction?
      A. There is no limit. So long as the customer has followed the terms and conditions on the specific coupons, so for example, if the customer has purchased the correct products that the coupons are valid on, and they are all in date, then we would accept them all. Some coupons do state that they cannot be used in conjunction with other offers/coupons so these could not be used together.

      Q. What's your policy on stacking coupons and deals?
      A. Coupons can be used with shelf deals, but you would need to refer to the individual coupons for any specific exclusions.

      Q. If the bill comes to zero, is that ok?
      A. Yes.

      Q. Do you need to buy the exact product mentioned in the coupon?
      A. Yes.

      Q. Do coupons need to be in colour?
      A. Coupons need to be original coupons, not photocopied. If the original coupon is in black and white, we will accept it.

      Q. Will you ever give money out if you hit minus figures?
      A. No.

      Q. Do you have a raincheck voucher system?
      A. No.

      Q. If an item is BOGOF, can you use two coupons?
      A. Yes, if the coupons allows it. Some coupons will state one per customer. No change will be given.

      Q. If it's one coupon per transaction, are you allowed to split your shop into two or more to get maximum coupon use?
      A. No

    • @sainsburys

      Last updated: Jun 2015

      Q. Can you use coupons on reduced stock (such as damaged items/things that are nearly out of date, etc)?
      A. Yes.

      QDo you have a magazine with coupons in? How often does it come out?
      A. Yes, Sainsbury's Magazine is a monthly magazine available to buy in all stores.

      Q. How many coupons can you use in one transaction?
      A. No limit but multiples of the same type of coupon cannot be used in one transaction.

      Q. What's your policy on stacking coupons and deals?
      A. Customers can buy into promotions and use coupons at the checkout so long as they have met the necessary requirements of the coupon - ie, they've bought the required products or spent the required amount in the correct time period.

      Q. If the bill comes to zero, is that ok?
      A. Yes.

      Q. Do you need to buy the exact product mentioned in the coupon?
      A. The coupon will always state the products that need to be bought for the coupon to be used.

      Q. Do coupons need to be in colour?
      A. Sainsbury's will accept all valid coupons.

      Q. Will you ever give money out if you hit minus figures?
      A. No.

      Q. Do you have a raincheck voucher system?
      A. No.

      Q. What's your policy on people using other peoples' vouchers or loyalty cards? What if it's a discarded voucher or coupon from the car park?
      A. Coupons that are sent out to customers directly from Sainsbury's (through mailings, emails and in store) are targeted to specific customers and they should not be used by anyone who is not targeted for the coupon.

      Q. If an item is BOGOF, can you use two coupons?
      A. No.

      Q. If it's one coupon per transaction, are you allowed to split your shop into two or more to get maximum coupon use?
      A. No.

    • @Tesco

      Last updated: Jun 2015

      Q. Can you use coupons on reduced stock (such as damaged items/things that are nearly out of date, etc)?
      A. Yes, as long as they correspond to the product.

      Q. Do you have a magazine with coupons in? How often does it come out?
      A. There are free magazines sometimes available around the store which contain coupons.

      Q. How many coupons can you use in one transaction?
      A. As many as the customer has bought products for. However there is a limit on spend and save coupons – only one can be spent in a single transaction, eg, £5 off £40.

      Q. If the bill comes to zero, is that ok?
      A. Yes as long as the products corresponding to the coupons have been purchased.

      Q. Do you need to buy the exact product mentioned in the coupon?
      A. Yes.

      Q. Do coupons need to be in colour?
      A. No, we accept home printed coupons which can be in black and white.

      Q. Will you ever give money out if you hit minus figures?
      A. No, we cannot give change on coupons.

      Q. Do you have a raincheck voucher system?
      A. We have special offer promise vouchers for items that are on promotion but are out of stock when the customer wishes to buy it and the promotion will end before the customer is able to shop again.

      Q. What's your policy on people using other peoples vouchers? Or loyalty card, etc? Discarded voucher/coupons from the carpark, etc?
      A. Our customer service assistants ask to see a Clubcard when vouchers are being redeemed instore; however this is not a requirement, because we know that families like to be able to share their vouchers.

      Q. If an item is BOGOF, can you use two coupons?
      A. Yes.

      Q. If it's one coupon per transaction, are you allowed to split your shop into two or more to get maximum coupon use?
      A. Yes, you can do this.

    • @waitrose

      Last updated: Jun 2015

      Q. Can you use coupons on reduced stock (such as damaged items/things that are nearly out of date, etc)?
      A. Yes as long as you still meet all of the coupon’s terms and conditions (for example if the coupon requires you to spend a minimum of £5).

      Q. Do you have a magazine with coupons in? How often does it come out?
      A. We have a monthly magazine called Waitrose Kitchen and a weekly newspaper called Waitrose Weekend – from time to time they do feature coupons for specific products, but this is not a regular feature.

      Q. How many coupons can you use in one transaction?
      A. That depends on the coupon type and how they are set up, i.e. if it is a product specific offer or a voucher reward for your whole shop. For the latter (i.e. £5 off a shop of £50) only one voucher can be used in one transaction.

      Q. What's your policy on stacking coupons and deals?
      A. Each coupon will state the terms and conditions on it. Online you can only currently use one voucher per transaction.

      Q. If the bill comes to zero, is that ok?
      A. Yes.

      Q. Do you need to buy the exact product mentioned in the coupon?
      A. Yes - our tills validate the coupons.

      Q. Do coupons need to be in colour?
      A. Printing them off in black and white or colour is absolutely fine. Some offers sent by email even have a mobile version of the coupon which can just be shown to the cashier and is matched against your myWaitrose card.

      Q. Will you ever give money out if you hit minus figures?
      A. No.

      Q. Do you have a raincheck voucher system?
      A. Typically we ensure that any products featured in a coupon have high stock levels. There is no specific Waitrose raincheck voucher system in place.

      Q. What's your policy on people using other peoples' vouchers or loyalty cards? What if it's a discarded voucher or coupon from the car park?
      A. Vouchers are linked to a customer's myWaitrose account and card, so are valid for that customer only. Our branch Partners (Waitrose employees) check that the card number on the voucher tallies with the customer’s myWaitrose card.

      Q. If an item is BOGOF, can you use two coupons?
      A. It would depend on the offer, but typically all coupons should work alongside any in branch or online promotions.

      Q. If it's one coupon per transaction, are you allowed to split your shop into two or more to get maximum coupon use?
      A. Of course - it is up to our customers how they shop. But you would still need to meet any minimum spend requirements in branch or online.

  3. Crack coupon barcodes to boost your savings

    With a practiced eye, you can decipher a coupon's barcode before you get to the till to see how much it's going to scan for. You can do this with any coupon, but it's especially useful for coupons with no obvious face value (eg, 50p or £1 off), like the pizza coupon below, which just says 'free'.

    By looking at the last four digits, ignoring the last one, those three numbers tell you how much the coupon will scan for. In this case it says '299', which means it will scan through at £2.99. If it said '050', it would scan at 50p and so on.

    Some coupon barcodes read '000'. This means the cashier will have to input the value manually at the till by checking the price, so be prepared to let them know if you get this type of coupon. Note: Reading barcodes only works on supermarket coupons and printable coupons for high street stores.

    How you can use this to your advantage...

    Once you know the secret value of a coupon, you can look around to see if you can find the item on sale for less than what it's going to scan for at the till. The extra money will then be taken off the rest of your shopping, something couponers call an 'overage'. Learn more about this in the overage section of this guide.

    - Jordon Cox

  4. Coupon your way to free food via 'overage'

    Overage is the holy grail for couponers, where you actually get money back on the cost of your shopping when the value of the coupon is higher than the cost of the product. It's a cool trick that comes around every once in a while if you have a high value, manufacturers' or freebie coupon.

    If you have a coupon worth £1 and the product costs 60p, the extra 40p left over is called the overage. Be careful though, this extra money cannot be taken away as profit from the till, so if you do happen to get this, make sure that you have something else in the trolley to use the extra overage on. The best thing to get with the overage is products you struggle to find coupons for e.g. fruit & veg or meat, that way you are saving money on all of your shopping instead of just items with coupons for.

    MSE Jordon's quick trick...

    I once got 20p overage on every Nair Hair remover I bought using a £1 off coupon on an 80p product. I ended up buying 20 packs and made £4 overage which I spent on fresh meat.

    There have been lots of successes with overage before, including a legendary loophole to make a profit on wine at Tesco by taking advantage of a Clubcard bonus. Who knows what might be next?

  5. Do your maths on product sizes

    If you have multiple coupons for the same product, it might be more cost effective to buy two smaller items rather than the big so-called 'value' packs. Buying two smaller sizes products may start at a higher cost at the till, but by getting two coupon discounts instead of one, you may get more for your money.

    Here's an example (pictured below). The 400g 'family size' bag of rice on the right is £1.99, but the 250g bag on the left is only £1. If you have two 50p off coupons to use, by buying two of the smaller ones, you can get 500g for £1 (more than you'd get in the big bag). Yet just using one coupon off of the 400g rice makes it £1.50. By buying two smaller packs, it works out cheaper and more cost effective.

    You can also save money by not buying packaging at all. MSE Jordon’s blog revealed that buying loose fruit & veg could save you a packet.

  6. Ask for a raincheck voucher

    If you ever get to the supermarket and find that an item on sale you were going to buy is sold out, you can ask for a 'raincheck' voucher. Normally this is some kind of rebate or coupon to make up for them not having the stock. Most of the time it is the store manager’s discretion, but don’t be afraid to give it a go.

    Some Asda stores have given out ‘Smiley Vouchers’ at the customer services desk worth £1 when a customer's had a bad experience in store. A similar thing's been known to happen at Tesco as well, but whichever supermarket you use, it's always worth asking as it tends to be at the store manager's discretion.

  7. Organise your coupons like a pro

    By the time you've cut out your 100th coupon, it'll hit you - you're gonna need some sort of system. Keeping track of your couponing - what you have, what they're for and crucially when they expire - will not only stop the embarrassing last-minute rummage at the checkout, it'll also help you maximise your savings.

    There are lots of ways to organise your coupons - many of the folk on the Extreme Couponing show simply use ring-binders. But we'd suggest a slightly more high-tech approach - a basic spreadsheet. We've created a template you can use below, although if you're a dab hand with Excel, you can also create your own. The key things you need to include are:

    - What product the coupon's for
    - Where you can use it
    - How much it'll save you
    - When you need to use it by
    - Other terms & conditions - eg, can you only use as part of a bulk buy?

    FREE tracking spreadsheet Download our free template spreadsheet to help you keep track of your couponing.

  8. Know your price match rights inside-out

    Three big supermarkets promise to refund the difference when groceries are cheaper at rivals. It's done by the basket though, so the real trick is to separate your shop into items that are cheaper and those that aren't to max the saving.

    Do your research and find out the price of items before you head out - Mysupermarket* can help with this. Then put the items that cost more at your chosen supermarket into one transaction, and the ones that are cheapest in another. That way the price difference you'll get will be the greatest - and you'll get the maximum possible voucher.

    The table below sets out each of the three supermarkets' policies.

    Supermarket price promises compared

    What's the deal? (i) If not 10% less than next cheapest, you get a voucher for the difference If not cheaper than Tesco.com, you get a voucher for the difference + 1p back If not cheaper than competitor, it takes the difference off your bill at checkout
    Does it work online? Yes Yes Yes
    Does it work in all stores? Yes (petrol filling Stations excluded) N/A - online only In Metros, Superstores, Extras
    Supermarkets compared Morrisons, Sainsbury's, Tesco, Waitrose Tesco.com Asda, Morrisons, Sainsbury's
    Own-label goods? Yes Yes - those which are comparable No
    Special offer goods? Yes, but only when "fairly included" Yes on comparable promotions Certain comparable promotions included
    Items needed? Min 8, 1 must be comparable Min 1 comparable Min 10, 1 comparable
    Min spend? No £40 No
    Maximum paid £100/month, max 10 claims £10 per shop £20 per shop
    Vouchers/ discount paid automatically? No, you must claim Yes, by email Yes, it takes a discount off your bill at the till or when you pay online
    Vouchers valid for... 28 days 14 days N/A
    (i) Based on total cost of all comparable goods. Comparable items are branded goods or where weight and/or size is similar.
  9. Divvy up your trolley

    As described above, some supermarkets price match, giving a voucher or discount for the difference if you could've saved compared to other supermarkets.

    It's usually done by the basket rather that individual items though, so the real trick’s to split your shop into bargains and full-price items to max the saving.

    When you're shopping, separate uber-deals from full-price items. You could organise them in the front and back of the trolley, or even use different baskets.

    At checkout, pay for the two piles of shopping separately. With luck, you'll have a basket full of full-price items that will hopefully score a price match discount or voucher. Then the separate basket of mega-bargains won't drag your average spend down.

  10. Predicting sales to max stacking

    It is possible for you to predict when certain items will go on sale using Mysupermarket. By correctly predicting sales, you can pinpoint the best time to use your coupons and save the most money.

    Supermarkets often change deals and release new sales advertisements mid-week, which means that Wednesday can be a critical day. There can be glitches which you can exploit - often new deals will come into effect but stores will honour last week's deals as well. If you can predict the sale then pounce on the deal mid-week, you're in the money.

  11. Stockpile to save more in the long run

    Stockpiling isn't just for survivalists fearing a zombie apocalypse. Extreme couponers take pride in their impressive store of goods, organising it so they all get used.

    MSE Jordon's quick trick...

    Stockpiling is great to save you a lot of money in the long run. If you find a coupon for something that means it's very cheap (or even free) it's a great time to stock up. I have a five-year supply of toothbrushes, toothpaste, toilet roll and a lot more non-perishables that I won’t have to buy for a very long time.

    If you have space to house stockpiled goods, that’s great. Here are some things you should know beforehand:

    - Think twice when it comes to perishables - If you can get a great deal on food and want to stockpile it, that is fine, but be wary of expiration dates and food wastage. As a general rule of thumb, non-perishables are best. These never go out of date and if bought for cheap will save you a lot of money in the future.

    - Don't go crazy - We all love a bargain, but if you don't have room for 500 deodorants, you'll never be able to get a really efficient stockpile. And if something goes wrong and you have to eat 100 tins of tuna by next Tuesday, don't just chuck it out - consider donating to a local food bank or shelter (find your nearest).

    - Best before vs use by - There is always confusion when it comes to these terms. You can still consume items if they have passed their best before, it is the use by date that you should check to see if it is okay to consume. Read more about this in our guide.

  12. Find clever tips to help you use your stash

    Need to use up five packs of sardines and seven packets of couscous? To help you creatively consume the couponing goodies you're not sure what to do with, try checking out handy websites that suggest recipes based on the items you've got.

    Tell the Supercook or BigOven tools what's sitting in your stockpile and they'll suggest a recipe from thousands. Alternatively, just go to the MSE Forum's Old Style Recipe Index and scroll down to the relevant ingredient.

  13. Tesco shopper? Make the most of 'Double the Difference'...

    This nifty trick's specific to Tesco, but it's well worth knowing about in case you're ever overcharged. If Tesco charges you full price for an item that's on sale, DON'T say anything at the till (if you do, they'll just put in the correct price).

    Instead, wait till the transaction's gone through, then go to customer services, explain what happened and say you want 'Double the Difference' - they'll give you double what you were overcharged.

    Tesco doesn't want to shout about this - but its press office has confirmed the policy is "part of our promise to customers". There are also signs in stores. Make sure you are talking to someone who knows about the policy and insist on double the difference rather than a basic refund.

    Many couponers play the system. When they find a pricing mistake they buy as many items as they can, then pay the incorrect amount they're charged before taking it all to the counter and claiming their 'Double the Difference' refund. Be careful though - if you're wrong about the price glitch, you'll have to pay full whack.

    See MSE Paloma's blog Tesco's Double The Difference policy left me nearly £50 richer for more.

  14. Extreme couponers do it together

    Couponing is a very friendly hobby. There are lots of online groups and forums for you to join to have a good natter about all things couponing and to swap coupons.

    The MSE Forum is a great place to interact with other couponers. Check out the Money-off Coupons and Supermarket Coupons Chat threads in the forum where MoneySavers share coupons.

  15. Learn the lingo

    "DD's posted a great MFR MOC." If you are big on forums for extreme couponing, you'll soon realise that some couponers speak their own language - and it helps to understand the jargon. Below is a list of some of the common terms used on the forum coupon board:

    - B1G1, B2G1. Another way to say BOGOF.

    - BC/bc. BC means a barcode with a good chance of a universal scan - a bc is a barcode which only selected stores can scan.

    - DD/DH. 'Darling Daughter'/'Dear Husband' - common terms on message-boards.

    - EA. Each.

    - Exp. Expiration date

    - IP. Internet-printable - an online coupon or voucher you can print out yourself.

    - MFR. Manufacturer.

    - MOC. Money-off coupon.

    - NSS. Non-store specific (you can use this voucher in different supermarkets).

    - OOS. Out of stock.

    - Stacking. Combining two or more promotions to maximise savings.

    - T #4. Token for.

    - WyB. When you buy.

    - WyS. When you spend.

  16. Be a checkout champ

    The nicer you are, the more likely shop staff will help you out - and while it's important you know your rights, a certain amount of goodwill never hurt either.

    - Find the friendliest-looking cashier possible - If you find a nice one, try and build up a rapport, so they know who you are and that you plan to use coupons. It'll make life easier - next time as well.

    - Tell them ASAP that you have coupons - Being an extreme couponer makes you a potentially tricky customer, so it's nice to let them get prepared.

    - Bunch items together - When you place items on the belt, try to place identical items together and try to put them in order of your list and coupon stack. This will make it easier for the cashier.

    - Warn the people behind you - The last thing you want at the till is beepin' angry people behind you. Let them know as they join that you have a load of coupons and they may want to queue somewhere else.

  17. Use self-service tills for speed

    Self-service tills are an irritant for many folks ("unexpected item in bagging area"). Yet they help couponers get things done at top speed. Supermarket staff don't always know exactly how coupons work, and can take a while to scan them. It's often just easier to let the system add the coupons.

    That said, while self-service tills can cut hassle, always double-check the T&Cs to check what you're doing is legit and that you're not inadvertently committing fraud. Never use self-service tills as a way to slip through coupons you think could be invalid. See the Shopper arrested for coupon fraud MSE news story for more.

  18. Make ink-redible savings on printing costs

    If your extreme couponing career takes off, you could find yourself printing out hundreds of online coupons. Considering ink is more expensive than champagne, make sure you get a printer that uses good-value ink.

    Supermarkets' terms and conditions NEVER require you to print in colour, as long as it's clear and easy to scan. The problem is sometimes suspicious shop assistants argue coupons have been photocopied - so printing in colour may make your life easier. (If you're worried about being challenged, it may also help to print out the supermarket policies listed above).

  19. Put the money you save into a jar

    Every time you save money with coupons, put the extra money that you would’ve paid into a jar and let it build up over time. Once you have been couponing for a while, it’s nice to open up the jar and see your savings first hand.

    All the money you have saved can now go towards other bills, holidays or a little treat for yourself… you’ve earned it!

    We must thank our former Deals Hunter, Charlotte Burns, who worked at MSE until 2014, for the work she did on the original version of this guide. MSE Jordon's added his own tips and tricks, and will look after the guide from now on.

How did you get on? We want to hear your extreme couponing successes. Let us know your stories - plus what we should add to this guide - in the Extreme Couponing  discussion in the forum.