What’s the only thing better than spending money? Saving it! One of the best ways to save money, especially on the things you buy every day, is couponing. Let’s face it: we can all benefit from saving a few bucks here and there. Whether you’re just trying to save more for your summer vacation, or are seriously looking at filing bankruptcy and need to make some changes now, you should give it a shot. You’d be surprised how much money you can save couponing.
Couponing can seem like an intimidating task, but it doesn’t have to be. You don’t have to spend a lot of time to save money using coupons, you just have to know how to go about it the right way. Follow these steps and you’ll be an expert couponer in no time!
Step One: Find and Clip
The first step is to find and clip coupons. You can get paper coupons from the newspaper, magazines, mailers, or store sale flyers. You can also find coupons in the aisles of your favorite store, or on the back of your store receipt (these are called catalinas.) The Internet has several great sites that offer printable coupons, and you can sign up for email updates from your favorite brands, who will likely send along coupons regularly. You can even search for coupon codes for your favorite stores online. Lastly, there are a few smartphone apps that offer coupons as well.
Step Two: Stack
Okay, so you’ve got a bunch of coupons, now what?
Well, you can simply use them as they are. That will save you a little bit of money, but if you really want to get the most of the time you spent finding and clipping all the little buggers, you can combine them to get the most of your money.
In most cases, a store coupon can be combined with a manufacturer coupon for the same product, so when you organize your coupons, separate them out and try to stack as many as you can. This will often double your savings, but that’s not all you can do…
Step Three: Combine
The next step is to combine your coupons with a sale, any chance you get. This works well for the stores you visit regularly, because it’ll be easier to track when everything goes on sale. If not, keep in mind that most stores cycle their sales every six weeks. If you have an in-store coupon and a manufacturer’s coupon that allow you $2.00 off a $3.00 bottle of pasta sauce, wait a few weeks and the pasta will likely go on sale, which means you can get it for pennies, or even for free!
Step Four: Research
Stacking and combining are the simplest ways to save significant amounts, but if you really want to go the extra mile, research the coupon policies of the stores in your area. You’ll find that some may allow you to combine coupons that others won’t, which could mean extra savings for switching stores.
A lot of places also offer price matching, which means that they will match any advertised price for a specific item. This is especially effective for the bigger-ticket items. There are a lot of good tactics for price matching, but it might be best to start out by simply keeping your eyes open for sales and deals. If one store offers a great sale price, but doesn’t accept coupons, just take the advertised price to a store that price matches and accepts all of your coupons, and you’ve got one of the best deals ever.
Step Five: Be Prepared
When you’ve got all of your coupons and deals and research ready to go, it’s a good idea to come prepared. Plan out as much of your list as you can beforehand, and try to get used to organizing your trip around the store by the coupons you have. It’s best to snag up a coupon organizer to make the trip as smooth as possible. If you’ve got kids, make sure to have some snacks or an electronic device around to distract them while going through the lengthy checkout process.
Whether you’re just looking to save a few bucks, or are ready to delve head-first into the world of extreme couponing, these steps will help you get started on the right foot.