Using Coupons Effectively

In today’s economy, many people need to cut back on their spending.  Coupons are one way to help us cut back if they are used effectively, but sometimes the idea of using coupons can seem daunting at best.  Other times, it can tempt us into buying things we wouldn’t normally buy, thereby negating any possible savings.  Used correctly however, coupons can save us a bundle.

Like anything else, using coupons effectively is a skill that you have to learn.  The first few times, you may only save a dollar or two here and there if you’re lucky.  Be patient with yourself and don’t expect to get a $100 grocery order for $20 your first time out, or even your fiftieth time out.  Just do the best you can.  Even a little bit of savings can help your overall household expenses.

The most important rule to remember is to only use coupons for those things that you need and will use.  Some people actually do stock up on things that they don’t like and won’t use, just to use their coupons.  This is nothing but a waste.  The same goes for stocking up on things you actually do use, as well.  If you have coupons for items that you use regularly, but are already stocked up enough that you won’t be able to use it all before the expiration date, then leave those coupons in the drawer and find some that are useful.

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s move on to those mysterious bits of paper that we call coupons.  It’s very nice to find a place that doubles coupons, but unfortunately, too many stores have caught on to this trick and in many parts of the country, there is no such thing as a double coupon.  You do have to stick to only saving the face value of the coupon.  That said, however, if you play your cards right, you can combine coupons with sales and specials at the market.  Choose the stores that are closest to you and save the weekly circulars from those stores only.  When you are planning your weekly shopping trips, compare the deals with the coupons that you have.  For example if you have a coupon for $1 off two boxes of cereal, and the cereal is on sale at your grocery store for $1.50 a box, you can get your cereal boxes for $1 each.  Make sure you stock up on the things that are extra good deals.  You may spend a little more this trip, but down the line, it saves more money.  Also look for the coupons that are buy one, get one free.  You can save a ton of money this way.  There are even some coupons that will give you a free item if there’s a new product that they are trying to get you to try.  This is the one time that I would recommend going outside your normal shopping routine.  If you are getting something for free, it’s at least worth it to try it, and you never know, you may add something new to your repertoire.

One final rule of coupons, is to make sure that you really are saving money.  Just because you have them in your wallet, doesn’t mean that you have to use them if you spot a better deal on another brand of the same product while you are in the store.  Don’t be afraid to do a little math while you are in the store.  If you have a coupon for 25 cents off a can of corn that costs $1, but there is another brand on sale for 50 cents, buy the 50 cent can and either save your coupon for another day, or throw it away. 

Like I said, using coupons effectively takes a little time and practice.  Once you learn how to do it, though, you will be able to save a lot of money.  As you learn, too, it will take less and less time to plan and execute your shopping trips.  It’s only those first couple of times that are really time consuming.  The most important thing is not to give up.