Couponing has never been my thing. I’ve tried in the past to clip coupons a few times but I ended up either forgetting them when I shopped or let them expire before I was able to use them. Pretty much, I was a couponing FAIL of epic proportions, so I chalked it as something that I wasn’t cut out to do in life. It was when I visited BlogHer last month in San Diego that I was introduced to a lot of coupons during the conference—good ones too for free or half off on a lot of products that I actually buy and use. It was then that I set out to make this couponing thing work for me and my family, because, who doesn’t like to save money?
My first trip to the grocery store post BlogHer, I saved $35 off of the total price of my bill. And I didn’t even use all of the coupons I was given. Seeing that reduction on my bill made me realize that it was worth me putting in some time into it to try to save money each and every week.
So now that I am almost 4 weeks into couponing, I have learned the following things:
- Do your homework: The savings come, not just in coupon’s face value, but in what the price of the product is BEFORE you use the coupon. The goal is to ultimately spend as less as you can on the item. So if the item is on sale at Place B and you are at Place C, you aren’t getting the most out of your money. Find and compare the actual price of items before you hit the road and shop where the item is lowest, increasing the savings with your coupon.
- Be organized: I don’t shop with a coupon binder (I am in the market for one, though, so if you know of a good one, please let me know), but I do shop with a list on my smartphone and I pull and separate my coupons before I enter the store. This helps me attack my savings and make sure that I am getting everything I need.
- Only buy what you need: On shows like Extreme Couponing, you see families stockpiling items. I do believe you should have a surplus on the items you use, but I am really picky about food and feeding my family a lot of packaged and processed foods. I also don’t have a lot of space for storing a lot of overflow, so I only buy what I need. I think when you are truly buying to save, you aren’t in it to overbuy. And in the end, it really isn’t necessary.
- The goal is to SAVE: The most I have saved on a shopping trip at one store has been the $35 I mentioned earlier. The least amount I have saved has been $7. I am realistic in my expectations and understand I may not save big each and every time I shop. But when I add up my monthly savings, there is a significant amount still left in my account because of couponing.
- Use the Internet: There are items that I buy that I have yet to see coupons for in the newspaper. I have learned to use the Internet to my advantage and go to the company’s website to see if they have a printable coupon I can use in the store. This has worked for me several times, and I don’t leave the house until I have checked all of the websites to see if printable coupons are available. There are also many couponing sites that will let you print out coupons at your leisure. You can check out Crate and Barrel coupons and Harry and David coupons.
- Know the store’s couponing policy: Holding up the line because you don’t know the store’s couponing policy is not a good look. If you have any questions, consult a store manager before heading to the checkout line.
- Participate in store savings clubs: A lot of drugstores and grocery stores have discount or savings clubs that you can enroll in (usually for free) and earn points and rewards that you can use when you shop. Great for using, you guessed it, with coupons!
Don’t let television shows and atypical couponers give you a bad taste about clipping coupons. On an average, I have saved $15 per shopping trip using my coupons and quite pleased with that. Hopefully I can get better sniffing out deals and bargains in order to put my coupons to work even more for me, but so far so good.
What are your thoughts? Do you clip coupons? What is your average savings per trip? And what tips do you have for me? 🙂