Cutting couponsMany more Americans are using coupons these days. In fact, coupon redemption in the United States increased 63% in 2011, according to Coupons.org. Using coupons saved Americans $3.7 billion last year. While coupons can get you discounts on items when you shop, don´t just clip coupons—there is a method to saving more money.

“Plan and Budget –Come up with a list and plan. Decide what you can afford to spend overall, …then shop the deals, coupons and savings strategies to stretch the budget. Check the store ads,” says Stephanie Nelson, CouponMom.com, whose site also lists deals and features coupons as well.

Before hitting the stores, research for coupons in the paper and online for coupons for the products you want to buy. “If time does not allow for online shopping and shipping, go to the store, but first look at weekly ads to see what’s on sale or take advantage of a Friends & Family discount or holiday sale. Be sure to also print a retail coupon so you can take advantage of sale prices plus use a coupon for more savings,” explains Jon Lal, who launched BeFrugal.com, a coupons and cash back site.

Make the most of online discounts and coupons by combining the savings opportunities. “Always look for a coupon, spot sales and earn cash back. When shopping online, check for a promo code for a discount or free shipping. Before making your online purchase, shop through a cash back site to get a portion of your transaction deposited in a free account. “Shop online so you can stack deals. Always look for a promo code for a discount and/or free shipping,” advises Lal. “Earn cash back for free. You can often combine a promo code and earn Cash Back on the same transaction.”

Tips on how to be Coupon Savvy from Stephanie Nelson of CouponMom.com:

Sign up for the email newsletters of favorite retailers and shopping malls to be the first to get special coupons;

Follow a retailer’s Facebook page to get access to special coupons or limited-time flash sales;

Go to an online coupon site to find coupon codes for discounts and free shipping;

Buy discounted or bonus gift certificates to give as gifts or to shop for gifts. Redeem cash back rebate dollars from credit card programs for bonus gift card values. For example, use $20 of your credit card rebate dollars to get a $25 gift certificate to selected retailers. Combine them with coupons if possible.

Save your receipts for Price Guarantee policies – most stores offer some type of price guarantee policy that will give you a refund if your item’s price drops after you’ve purchased it, within a specific time frame.