Economic times are tough and coupons are one of the easiest ways to save money. However, buyer beware. Manufacturers are smart. Coupons entice you to buy unnecessary goods if you are not careful. Here are some tips on how to use coupons correctly.
First, only clip the coupons of products you normally use, or items that you have always wanted to try. Carrying around a coupon for an item you wouldn’t normally purchase may actually tempt you into buying unnecessary goods.
Have a grocery list. That may seem like common sense, but the goal of coupons is to save you money. Without a list, you may fall into the mind trap of “I’ll be saving money by purchasing this product” and end up spending extra on frivolous purchases.
Be weary of coupons that make you buy multiple items to get savings. For example, buy 2 boxes for a $.25 savings. Unless the item is on sale already, or an item you use often, the savings aren’t worth it. Keep an eye out for coupons that are good for the purchase of one item. You will get more bang for your buck.
Before you head to the store, look at the circulars. The best way to get highest savings is to combine coupons with in store sales or promotions. An example, a variety of granola bars I like is typically $3.99 a box, however my local store has sales every few weeks where you can get 3 for $5. By combining that savings of $1.66 with my coupon for saving $1 off a box, I end up with the box of granola bars for $.66.
Keep an eye on store brand products. Just because you have a coupon, you don’t need to use it. Manufacturers try to get you to pay higher prices for their product by “tricking” you into thinking your saving money. The key is to do a price comparison. If you are actually saving by purchasing the name brand napkins with the coupon go for it, but if the store brand is still cheaper consider the store brand. Unless you love a particular name brand, don’t feel pressured into making the purchase.
Check if you store has a frequent shopper club. Most supermarkets do have rewards programs that automatically track your shopping purchases and send you coupons geared towards your interests. Some manufacturers actually send coupon booklets to stores so don’t be afraid to ask the manager if you can have a coupon booklet.
Compare different stores rules. My supermarket will double coupons up to $1 whereas retailers such as Target will not. Although Target’s everyday price may seem lower, once you double a coupon at a Supermarket you may get added savings.
Invest in the Sunday paper. I ordered the Sunday paper through an online discount site and got a year’s worth of LA Sunday times for $16.95. Another neat trick is to google the product you are looking for with the word “coupon” in the search bar. Websites will load that allow you to print out coupons for a specific product you are looking for.
Look through that junk mail. I was surprised to find that my supermarket stuck a coupon in my circulars every other week for a $5 savings on a $75 purchase. It’s not tough to rack up a grocery bill of $75 so that $5 savings is on top of my store frequent shopper discount and added coupons. I brought a $90 bill down to $32!
You can also sign up for automated coupons on sites such as www.shortcuts.com By signing up at these sites, you can load coupons of products you purchase often straight to your frequent shopper card. This way, you won’t forget to use the coupon and it will be automatically applied to your purchase.
Invest in a coupon organizer. Most people consider coupons a waste of time, but by taking 10 minutes a week to organizer your coupons by product type or aisle (whichever is more convenient) you can quickly find them when you need them. Pull coupons as you put items into your cart and store them in the front pocket so you don’t have to dig for them at the register. Even better, look at the store circular and your grocery list and pull the coupons ahead of time.
Coupons can be an easy way to trim the fat in your monthly budget. By taking a few minutes every week to clip, sort and plan, you will notice a drastic difference.