Save Money With Coupons – the Right Way

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Images of couponers can range from penny-pinching to extreme hoarders, but in reality, sensible couponing is one of the easiest ways to avoid paying full price.  Your goal is not to see how low you can get your grocery cost or how many boxes or cans you stock in your closet, but to save money by avoiding paying full price.  And now it is easier than ever because you find coupons in so many places.  Coupons for groceries and personal care items are the most plentiful, but coupons for chain restaurants are easy to get and make dining out more enjoyable when you aren’t paying full price.  Look for shopping “passes” for store discounts to make trips to the mall even better.  Here are tips to make it easy.

  1. Find your coupons. The best place is still the Sunday newspaper.  You may remember or have heard of a newspaper that gets delivered right to your home with news, color comics, sales circulars, and in this case, coupons that pay for the newspaper many times over.  The internet may be killing off newspapers, but at least it’s not forgetting to replace its coupons.  The web has many, many coupon sites and you can see a sampling at the end of this section.  You can also trade your email address to your favorite retailers and chain restaurants to get coupons emailed to you.  Many manufacturers will send you coupons when you send a complimentary letter to them.  More retailers are sending coupons to your smartphone but details differ widely, so it might pay to find out the details for your favorites.  Food coupons are especially plentiful around the November/December holidays, so stock up then as well as items that are on sale around the holidays more than throughout the year such as stuffing, gravy, desserts, hams, and turkeys.
  2. Get organized. You will soon have fistfuls of coupons so you need to organize them.  Keep the restaurant coupons in your car or purse so they will always be handy when the need or urge arises.  Coupons are easier to use when you organize them into categories.  You can buy a handy organizer at the grocery or stationary store, but I just use paperclips and an old bill envelope.  Some coupons expire pretty early, so only clip ones you expect to use and put your newest coupons in the back of your organizer category.  Sometimes you can load online coupons onto your store loyalty card or smartphone app.
  3. Enhance your coupons. Coupons are even better when you can combine them with other savings, especially the weekly sales and retailer loyalty rewards.  Favor grocery stores that double or triple your coupons.  See if your store will let you “stack” or combine a store and manufacturer coupons.  Bagging the deal is even sweeter when you can combine a coupon, sale, and online saving coupon like  that pays you cash when your online savings have accumulated.
  4. Be sensible. Don’t throw your savings away by over-dosing on coupons.  Do not stock up on stuff just because you have a nice coupon – you may avoid paying full price, but are you really saving money on stuff that will take eons to use?

When shopping online, have you noticed that many checkout carts include a box for a “coupon or promo code”?  You might get these from their email newsletters, but before completing your purchase, first do a web search for a code, for example, “your retailer coupon code”.  You can also do a search on your favorite coupon code website.  There are many which you can find by searching “coupon codes”.  Yes, many of the codes have expired, but it only takes one minute to check.  Note that even many airlines sometimes offer promo codes and they can add up to big money.  They are usually found on their websites, email, or social media, but also do a web search.

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