The following is a post from Sara Clark. Sara is a stay-at-home mom who is responsible for her family’s budget. She spends hours a month scoring the best deals, and collecting coupons, for her family. If interested in submitting a post, please read my guest posting policy and then contact me.
Mention the word couponer, and the first image that comes to mind is a wild-eyed lady, with coupon stuffed binders, and a mountain of toilet paper in her basement. Many people find the thought of using coupons intimidating. This post will help you score the big deals without losing yourself in the process.
Show Me the Savings
A couple of years ago I was feeling like Old Mother Hubbard. It was one of life’s great mysteries. I was constantly grocery shopping, but had no food. Coupons were everywhere, and I was determined to learn how to use them. After going a bit overboard, I now have a system that allows me to get the most savings with very little effort.
How to Save More Money AND Time
- Do use coupon websites to find out what the best deals are for the week, and where to locate the matching coupons.
- Do stack store coupons with manufacturer coupons. This allows you to use two coupons on one product.
- Do take advantage of gift card deals. Stores occasionally run coupons in their weekly sales flyer offering a dollar amount off when you purchase a gift card, such as $10 off the purchase of a $50 gift card. Use the gift cards when the store is having a huge sale.
- Do shop at stores close to home.
- Do use coupons on items you would normally buy.
- Do buy multiples of items that are on sale. If it is something you use on a regular basis, buy it at rock bottom prices. You don’t have to stockpile like someone preparing for an apocalypse, unless that’s your goal.
- Do wait to clip coupons until you are ready to use them.
- Do use apps, ecoupons, reward programs, and internet coupons.
- Do use your savings to pay off debt.
- Don’t clip every coupon and try to score every deal. Decide what your time is worth.
- Don’t buy things you won’t use. It’s not a bargain if you never use it.
- Don’t drive all over town looking for savings. This takes too much of your time, gas and sanity.
- Don’t have unrealistic expectations. Can you get $1000 worth of stuff for free? Yes, but unless you want to live off toothpaste and rice, understand that an average savings of 40%-50% is more realistic.
- Don’t become a wackadoodle. Find the balance between savvy shopper and crazy hoarder.
What to Expect When You’re Expecting… Big Savings
When I first started couponing I made the decision to build my stockpile quickly. It was akin to the emergency fund in my budget. The necessities would be there when my family needed them. I admit to becoming a wackadoodle until the day my husband told me it was time to enjoy the fruits of my labor. Our cupboards were full, there was more money in the bank, and frankly, I needed to get out of my sweats and do something with my hair. Ok, the last part was my own self-reflection, and he was kind enough to not say it.
I don’t regret my time as a psycho coupon lady. Sometimes it takes a radical change to achieve radical results. My family now has a much healthier relationship with money all around. We no longer make purchases without looking for the best price. Coupons will always be a part of my life. Free food just tastes better.
How do you view couponing? Do you consider it a waste of time or are you a crazy couponing lady?