Plenty of people save hundreds of dollars on their shopping every month, by making the most of the coupons that are available in newspapers and magazines, on product packaging and online. However, it can be a time-consuming hobby, and the money you save might not always be worth the hours you have to spend collecting coupons in order to make the big savings.
Extreme couponers devote hours every week to searching out the best deals, but you can take advantage of some of their tactics and techniques in order to save as much as you can on purchases.
Finding the best deals isn’t just a matter of visiting lots of stores to find the lowest prices. Coupons are found in lots of different places, and you should make sure you “shop around” in a variety of publications to find the lowest prices on items, holidays and experiences. Most national and local newspapers will have coupons that can be used to get money off, or to bulk buy certain items.
Lots of supermarkets and other stores have their own magazines too, usually available in-store. As well as advertising products, most of these publications also offer coupons and special offers which you can use to cut your shopping bill. In addition, you should try looking in specialist magazines if there are specific items you are looking to buy; house and home magazines if you are trying to save money on furniture or travel magazines for coupons for flights and hotels, for example.
The internet is a great new source for coupons. As well as the supermarkets’ own sites, check out the websites set up by product manufacturers themselves to see if they have any good deals you can use locally or to save money on online purchases.
Finding useful coupons is only part of the process if you are trying to make significant savings on your purchases. Once you have started to collect paper and online coupons, you also need to get organized to ensure that you make the most of the deals you have found. Some coupons will have expiry dates, or can only be used at certain times of the year or in certain stores. Organizing your collected coupons by their “use-by” date should help to ensure you never have the embarrassing experience of trying to use an expired coupon in store, and don’t have the frustrating experience of missing out on a great deal you were really looking forward to cashing in.
Once you are used to finding coupons, and searching them out in unusual places, then you will soon find yourself overwhelmed with deals, and shopping in a lot of different places in order to make the most of your savings. It can take a while to get to that standard, however, and most couponers start small, focusing first on the supermarket or stores they would be visiting anyway.
Get used to using coupons by making a list of items you need or want to buy, and marking which ones have appropriate coupons, so that you don’t miss any deals when it comes to the checkout. Soon you will be able to manage multiple piles of coupons for multiple stores, but that will take a little practice.
Check the Rules
As well as expiry dates, coupons may also have other conditions attached. It is quite common to find coupons that cannot be used in conjunction with another offer; meaning that if you have two coupons for the same product or store, then you can only use one at a time. Individual shops might have their own policies in relation to coupons — and it is useful to learn what their policies are before you decide to try and cash in a deal. Don’t be afraid to ask to speak to a manager if you feel the cashier is being unreasonable in refusing to give you the money off you’re entitled to.
You may not want to go as far as the extreme couponers, who spend longer searching for deals than they do in their local store, but spending just a little time scanning your local paper or supermarket magazine can help you make some significant savings on your weekly shop. Lots of families are finding it tougher to make ends meet, and a collection of useful coupons can easily help to reduce your weekly grocery bill — or even help you pay for luxuries.