#1 KNOW your prices- There are many ways to do a price book. You can keep it simple or really detailed. I'm still working on the best format for me but here is a great explanation of the price book AND a template to get you started from Centsablemomma.
#2- STOCK UP when the prices are at their rock bottom low. This means you need to get familiar with sale cyles. (hence the importance of the price book) I have learned to buy LOTS and LOTS canned veggies in November when they drop to 50cents (or less) per can. NEVER buy them when they are over 75 cents. I'm in the process here but what I have started to do is jot down when the big sales hit (like buy 1 get 1 on roast at HT) so I know how many to purchase in order to fill my need until the next sale.
#3- Know what you can get for FREE. You should rarely to never pay money for toothpaste or dental floss. If you aren't picky about brands you should also be able to get dishwashing soap, hand soap, and deodorant for free. There are some things I am a brand snob about (Charmin toilet paper for one!) I will probably never find Charmin for free but I can keep track and make sure I only buy it when it is priced at the bottom of the cycle.
#4- Stock up but don't overstock. I am fully aware that many die hards would disagree here (have you ever watched Extreme Couponing on TLC?) but I don't think anyone needs 500 toothbrushes. I don't care if they are free! The stockpile should be enough to keep you supplied until the next sale cycle not until the next millennium
#5- Treat it like a game. Maybe this is where I cross the line but there is a high that comes with walking out of the store with free (or incredibly cheap) products. What other high is legal, good for your finances, and doesn't harm your health in any way? Make it a game and celebrate your success by splurging in another area.
Some people save for the sake of saving. For me, I like to save money on the necessities so that we can have splurges in other areas. We love vacations. We love the beach. We love Disney. The coupon game makes those splurges even sweeter.
That's about as much knowledge as I have on the subject. I'm not one of the gurus out there but I think I know enough to be a decent gamer. What about you? Have any other tips to share?