With September being National Coupon Month, now’s a great time to learn how to use coupons effectively, if you don’t already know. I remember being a little girl, carrying my mom’s huge book of coupons through the store while she rattled off what she was buying. I’d have to go through her alphabetically-indexed file, trying to decide whether crushed tomato coupons could go under “c” for crushed, “t” for tomatoes, or “s” for spaghetti sauce. Because of these (not exactly) traumatic experiences, I swore off coupons early in my adult years, but have recently picked up the habit, since there’s quite a bit of money to be saved. Here’s some of what I’ve learned:
- Check to see if the store you are shopping in has an App. Download that app and set up an account before you go shopping and many allow you to clip coupons before you even walk in the store
- Don’t go to the store with a huge box of unsorted coupons. Seriously, this is inefficiency at its best. Make a list and take the coupons that you need with you, leaving your filing system at home.
- Learn how to stack coupons. What this means is using a manufacturer’s coupon (the type you cut out of magazines and newspaper inserts) with in-store sales. For example, if you have a coupon for a dollar off of two bottles of salad dressing, wait until that brand goes on sale. If it’s normally $3 per bottle, but goes on sale for $2, then you use your coupon on two bottles, you’ll spend $3 for both bottles, total, saving 50 percent.
- Don’t buy items that you wouldn’t buy if you didn’t have the coupon, unless you’re getting the item for free, or nearly so. Saving 35 cents on a $4 item that you didn’t need or want anyway doesn’t make any sense.
- Be willing to try other brands if you can get a good deal. I recently found a coupon for a dishwashing detergent that I’d never bought before. While I’d been brand loyal in an effort to avoid water-spotted glasses, switching for a week to save a couple of dollars ended up being worth it; the new brand was just as good as the old one.
- Don’t go crazy. Is it possible to buy 86 sticks of deodorant if you can find them on sale and manage to scrounge up 86 coupons? Yes… buy why would you want to? Unless you’re vying for a spot on Extreme Couponing or you are making a big donation to a homeless shelter (which is a great reason to do exactly that!), you don’t need that many. Buy what you’ll use in a reasonable period of time, plus a few extras if you want, and leave the rest for other people.
- Find out your store’s policies. Some double or triple coupons, some will match store coupons of their competitors, some accept Internet coupons, and some will do none of the above. Learning what your store allows and doesn’t allow will go a long way in keeping you from putting forth extra efforts that won’t be acknowledged anyway.
- Don’t forget about coupon codes for items that you can order online! We keep a good selection of updated online coupons that you can use if you order from some of the ShopaholicMommies’ favorite vendors. Check it out and save money on products ordered from the convenience of your own home!
What are some of your favorite tips when it comes to using coupons? What’s been the most you’ve saved on a shopping trip? Tell us about it to encourage our readers!