Today’s economy isn’t exactly designed for fattening purses. Unemployment rates continue to remain elevated, and millions of other people are underemployed. The most basic things that families need to keep going each month, like food, gas and utilities continue to get more and more expensive, while our paychecks shrink and our work weeks get longer. It’s a bleak situation if you stop to dwell on it for too long. So instead of railing against the things you cannot change, make a real difference for your financial bottom line by learning how to successfully use coupons. Sure, you might think clipping coupons is just for people that have too much time on their hands. But the truth is with the huge amount of online deal sites now joining standard offers and paper circulars, couponing can save you huge amounts of money.

In order not to get too overwhelmed you should start small. That means zeroing in on the one store you use the most and learning the best use of coupons for that particular store. Chances are it is your supermarket, as most people buy food each and every week. In the modern technology age, your basic neighborhood supermarket offers coupon inserts right at the front door and in the newspapers, as well as coupons on their website, through newsletters, on social media sites and a massive network of deal blogs and coupon sites. Take the time to join your market’s loyalty program, learn it well, and seek out coupons specifically for that store. Once you get a system down and save a decent amount of money there, you’ll be more prepared to branch out.

Another great way to use coupons to save big is literally buying ‘big’, with bulk purchasing. Most supermarkets highlight products and give you discounts for buying five or ten units at a time. Big box stores like Costco and Sam’s Club will often provide the lowest unit price when you buy bulk packages, and in many cases you won’t even need a physical coupon. Just make sure these products are something that you would have bought for your house anyway, and that they won’t expire before you have a chance to use them up.

Traditional coupon clippers swear by the newspaper, and the fact remains that is still one of the best ways to find deals. Each paper’s weekend edition contains circulars with deals from a wide variety of retailers, and most of them will be local to you. If you are serious about couponing, you should subscribe to four of your region’s newspapers. Save the environment by only getting the weekend edition. You’ll find deals that will be good just for that week, so keep a running tally of the types of things you are looking for at any given time. Remember that buying something you don’t really need, even if it is a great deal, won’t save you anything.

You should also learn how to fully exploit the internet for your couponing. Start with websites that allow you to search out the deals you are specifically looking for. Find the sites that have membership programs, so you can set alerts for future deals, but don’t pay for any of those perks. Also go directly to the vendors’ websites to see what internal offers they have. Pizza lovers will constantly find dominos coupon codes on their website good for a wide range of deals. You’ll find similar opportunities on all of the national chain sites, and many local vendors as well.