By Kelly Hodges
There are so many easy ways to save money on the home front these days. And in this economy, anyone and everyone should tune in when they hear the word “savings.” Fact is, tough times have forced retailers to offer deeper discounts, and this is good news for consumers. You just have to know how to play the couponing game.
Using coupons is one of the best ways to cut spending on everyday necessities and therefore keep more of that hard earned money in your pocket. If you’re thinking about jumping on the coupon bandwagon and seeing what all the hype is about, then here are 5 steps to get you started on your couponing journey:
- Know where to find the coupons.
Ok, this seems obvious, but you have to know where to look. Start with the Sunday paper. The vast majority of coupons are housed in the Sunday paper inserts. If you don’t have a subscription, consider getting one. The small investment in the subscription will easily be recouped with the money you save. If there is a particularly good coupon insert one week, buy a second paper- many dollar stores carry them. Ask your friends, family, or neighbors for their unused coupons- many people just throw them away and would be happy to save them for you. You should also keep your eyes peeled at the grocery store. There are often coupon dispensers in the aisles, sometimes they’re even attached to the product you’re buying! Once you start looking for them you’ll find that they’re everywhere and wonder how you hadn’t noticed them before!
The internet is another great source for coupons. Check out coupon websites like coupons.com, couponmom.com, smartsource.com, or supermarketguru.com, to name a few. Simply scroll through and print the coupons you’ll use. There are tons of coupons on the internet, and it’s literally like printing money! You can even get coupons uploaded directly to your smartphone (still think that couponing is just for grannies?). And if buying gifts, groceries or other household wares directly from an online retailer, be sure to search that retailer and key words like “coupons” or “coupon codes” to get the latest deals to maximize your savings.
- Know your store’s coupon policy.
Each grocery chain has its own policy so you need to become familiar with the policy where you shop. If the store has a website you should be able to find it there, otherwise call and ask a manager. If your store doubles (or triples) coupons you’re really in luck! Find out things like what days they double, if there is a limit on numbers of coupons you can double, and if they accept internet coupons. If your store has a double (or triple) coupon day take advantage of it! Why save $20 off your bill on Tuesday if you could save $40 by shopping on Wednesday?
- Have a system.
Couponing is not meant to be a full time job and should not require hours of your time. The key is to have a quick efficient system to collect and file your coupons. Find what works for you, but keep your coupons organized so you can find what you need quickly. If your store puts out a weekly flier figure out in advance which coupons coincide with the store sales for that week to maximize your savings. The more you can determine which coupons you’ll need before you step foot in the store the less time it will take you to complete your shopping (more on this in future articles).
- Evaluate your brand loyalty.
Do you have to have Jif peanut butter, or would you be ok eating Skippy? What about Prego vs Ragu spaghetti sauce? These are questions only you can answer. If you are willing to expand your repertoire and try new brands you will be able to take advantage of more coupons and therefore save more money. Manufacturers also tend to release lots of coupons when a new item comes on the market. Being willing to try something new will afford you a great opportunity for savings.
- Make it fun.
If couponing seems like hard work to you, you won’t stick with it. Make it a game! See what percentage you can save each week and compete with yourself. As you get better at it you’ll be able to save more and more. Get the family involved in coupon clipping. It’s a great opportunity to teach the kids about budgets and savings. Make it tangible and keep a log of all the money you save each week- decide what long-term goal those savings will be used for and reward yourself for your efforts!
Now you have some tools to get you started on your money saving journey. Good Luck!
Any opinions expressed herein are solely those of the author, and do not in any way represent the views or opinions of her employer or any other person or entity.
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