Recently, I’ve decided to make a game plan before shopping in order to save money, so I can afford to go on more adventures (although some adventures don’t cost a dime)! One of the strategies is using coupons in conjunction with sales and other discounts.
If you’ve watched TLC’s series Extreme Couponing, you have witnessed that the coupon world can be a bit, well, extreme. Like Olympic Games extreme. Unless one is willng to devote lots of time and energy on a regular basis, extreme couponing could lead to quick burnout.
Here a five money-saving tips I have learned through trial and error and research that will make shopping for super deals more doable for the average consumer.
1. Shop once or twice per week, rather than almost every day.
Often, those who are getting serious about couponing see circular sales and think they have to pounce on every good deal they see. Again, the “savings buzz” might carry you through the first week, but shopper’s malaise will likely ensue. Since I live in a rural area and commute to work, I usually pick a day to shop in a town along the way and prepare accordingly. I choose Monday. Pick a day that suits you. (Tip: Shopping a day or two after the store circular is released means that the items you plan to purchase more likely will be in stock.)
2. Maximize your savings with customer loyalty cards and rebate apps/websites.
It is definitely worth your time and effort to sign up for customer loyalty cards/programs at your favorite stores. I synced my CVS Rewards card to the SavingStar app on my tablet, and I save without breaking a sweat! Also, be sure to hang on to store coupons. Many stores’ coupon policies allow shoppers to use a store coupon along with a manufacturer coupon.
For online shopping, I love using Ebates, and my favorite rebate apps to use after shopping in-store (in addition to SavingStar) are Ibotta and Checkout 51. You can check out sites like Coupon Mom to learn which items are on sale, have a coupon available, and are featured on one of the apps above.
3. Get organized.
There is a lot of grunt work for the beginning couponer, but in the end, organizing your stash pays off big time. Organizing my coupons by category in a binder works best for me. Some prefer an accordion folder or file box. Be sure to weed out the expired ones at least once per week so it won’t take much time. Here is a great resource if you think the binder route is for you: The Krazy Coupon Lady.
For even more tips, check out the Krazy Coupon Lady book, Pick Another Checkout Lane, Honey. The book contains lots of anecdotes, which some may like and others dislike, but I learned so much money-saving knowledge from it!
I’ve started to organize my binder, and I’ll keep you posted on my progress!
4. Don’t feel as though you need to acquire every coupon out there.
This tip is similar to my first about not hitting every sale. Unless you have several willing helpers, clipping and printing out every coupon is not necessary for big savings. If there are coupons available for items you need or for super cheap items you might need, clip those. Give the rest of your coupons from newspaper inserts to a friend or organization in need. By not printing out coupons that will most likely expire before use, you save on ink, too!
5. Make a list and stick to it.
Write a shopping list (noting coupon/discount for each item) and place the coupons you plan to use in a envelope. If you’d like to bring your binder/accordion folder along in case you encounter a surprise bargain, go for it! Writing a list ensures that won’t forget something you need and won’t forget to use your valuable coupons!
If you’re not from the U.S., is there a way to save similar to couponing/rebates in your country? Let me know in the comments!
Also, if you know another amazing app/coupon website, please feel free to share with the blogging community. Thanks, friends! 🙂