The following post is from Marissa who blogs at Thirty Six Months. She writes about learning to invest, saving money and paying off her grad school loans.
It can be difficult to figure out exactly how you can save money using coupons. We will discuss a few different tricks and tips that will help you with getting started couponing. Couponing can be frustrating in the beginning when you are learning the ropes of how everything works together for the biggest savings. You should also note that if you are looking to save the big bucks like those on many of the popular couponing shows it can become almost a full time job with all the work that is included.
Now let’s get started by discussing the most beneficial tips for couponing.
Tip #1: Newspaper
One of the best places to find coupons is in your local Sunday newspaper. Many people recommend getting a subscription to the newspaper. If you are just looking for coupons, many newspapers offer a Sunday-only subscription. Some public libraries offer coupon exchange programs where you bring your unwanted coupons and swap them out for coupons you do want. You can also see if the library or area recycling center has extra copies of coupons you can take.
Tip #2: Online Printable Coupons
One of the next best places to get your coupons is by going to the many popular online coupon sites that offer the option to print them out right from home. Such sites include Coupons.com, redplum.com, and smartsource.com. The best thing about online printable coupons is you can choose only those that you will use to print out. Visit the Swagbucks* coupon section and print and redeem coupons to get additional Swagbucks, and redeem them later for gift cards. A similar deal is in play for MyPoints, where you can print and redeem coupons for points that can later be used to get a gift card. Print on recycled paper and change your printer’s settings to “fast draft” to use less ink.
Tip #3: Store coupons
Many stores offer their own store coupons within their weekly ads. Get a copy of your stores weekly ad to watch for these valuable coupons. Check your store’s coupon policy to see if you can stack manufacturer’s coupons with store coupons to enhance your savings. If they won’t, see if your store will price-match a competitor’s price so you won’t have to run to several stores to get the same savings.
Tip #4: Store e-coupons
There are also many stores with their own store savings cards that offer the ability to place e-coupons onto your savings card via their website. This can help to maximize potential savings but doubling up with print coupons in store. This is my favourite place to check for coupons. I generally check the week’s flyer for coupons at my desk before heading out. I normally email myself my list and have it handy on my iPad at the grocery store. No one says you can’t be techy and frugal.
Tip #5: Stores with Double Coupons
One of the best tips you can receive is to shop at stores that offer double coupons. For example if you have $0.75 off one box of cereal, doubled you will get $1.50 off that box of cereal. This is one of the most popular tips you will see with those that are into extreme couponing. Wait until the item is on sale to keep your out-of-pocket expenses to the minimum. Check CouponMom for help matching coupons to store sales.
Tip #6: Organization
Now that you understand exactly where you can go to get your coupons, you want to get some organization down. It can be difficult to go shopping with a mess of coupons, and having to search through the pile at the checkout lane. The best piece of advice one can receive about coupons is to be prepared ahead of time.
Try writing your list on a large envelope and include the coupons you will be using on the inside. Make sure to mark beside the items on your lists which ones you have coupons for. Stick to your shopping list and be sure to only use coupons for items your family will actually use.
Once you have a better understanding at how coupons work you will be surprised at the savings you will get. It is best to do a little research using these tips provided before venturing out on your first couponing adventure. Make sure you are prepared because nothing will ruin your idea of couponing then having an unorganized experience right off the bat. I want to mention that everything, and I mean every thing, goes on sales in cycles so instead of buying 30 cases of pop/cola when your family only drinks 1, buy in moderation and wait until the next sale to buy more.
Personally I look online for promo codes/coupons for any product that I want to buy. One of the best feelings when you’re shopping is knowing that you paid less than the other guy. Remember- there is a coupon for everything; you just have to look hard enough.