I’ve posted before about the show Extreme Couponing and it brought a lot of interesting comments on different takes on couponing. So, I decided to elaborate with a post on my own couponing tactics to share, (and hopefully learn some new ones too).
It’s not just for people struggling with their budgets, couponing has become more mainstream in the recent economy for people who believe in stretching their hard earned dollar. With couponing, instead of spending your pay checks on things you need and hate spending on (toothpaste, toilet paper, garbage bags, ugh), you can justify adding some extra dollars to things you want (vacations, shoes, electronics, etc).
I was very fascinated by the show Extreme Couponing because I love the thrill of a good deal myself! I never want to be thaaat extreme, but it did help me get couponing in perspective and realize that it’s there for a reason, and I shouldn’t miss out on it. It helped me organize my couponing more than just the “only if I remember” tactics that I was using.
Taking a few minutes to get organized and grab a coupon can really accumulate more savings than you think. Even without putting much effort in and only using 3 weekly ad or print out coupons per grocery trip can be about $3-4 (don’t forget coupons can be doubled!) off your bill.
To put in perspective – with very little couponing effort that is one tall pumpkin spice latte at Starbucks a week. Or $208/year in your “fun money” fund. For the money that would have otherwise been spent on a few overpriced grocery items.
Here are some of my favorite couponing and other deal hunting tips that I have adapted myself or learned from others, so it’s time I paid them forward!
How to Get Coupons:
Buy/Subscribe to the Sunday Paper. The Sunday paper is a little over a dollar per week, but it benefits me in a few ways. I end up with a stack of various grocery coupons with a saving value way over the cost of the paper. In addition, I also check out Target and CVS weekly sales ads. There’s a bunch of others, but those offer the best deals (in my opinion), that I like to combine with coupons to get an even better deal.
Here’s an example where the weekly ad helps shoppers break it down: 2 packs of contact solution. CVS has a promo for $3 off, and then combined with a coupon in the same paper for $1.50, results in savings of $4.50 for two bottles. And, if you have any CVS bucks from a previous purchase (because I get some coupons on my receipt every time I buy anything there), that’s at least $2+ more off.
I don’t come out of stores with a total in the negatives, like on Extreme Couponing… but here is an example of a recent grocery trip that I was proud of.
$15 of the savings were deals the store was having. I combined the items that were on sale with coupons I had stocked up, and got an additional $16 off on top of that. As a bonus, I got the required 3 cereals (with coupons) needed to get a free gallon of milk voucher! I was especially excited about this because I think the cost of milk in Maryland ($4) is absurd.
- Tip: Don’t throw away the store-specific coupons (printed on receipts) you get from grocery stores, Target, CVS, etc (like I did until recently). Save those too because they can be combined with weekly deals and manufacturer’s coupons.
- NOTE: Just being prepared with coupons accumulated is all the prep that I have time to put in, I don’t strategize on where the items I want are the cheapest, I just don’t have the time. But walking into my local grocery store prepared with coupons to possibly match their sales is enough to succeed 🙂
For clothing and non-grocery items:
Mommy Saves Big. The name says it all, but this blog is awesome! It is updated daily and collects both email and snail mail coupons that are normally sent by stores for promotions, birthdays, sales. Instead of having your mailbox/inbox full of these, it is so much easier to come to one place and grab the ones you need!
I always check this site before going shopping. Go to the Printable Coupons & scroll through all the stores to print out the ones that you shop at. Ever since my bestie, Jenny told me about this site, I never pay for anything full price at the mall anymore.
The site is also great before buying anything online, by going to the online shopping promo code section. It’s got a ton. But if you can’t find one you need, I also recommend MyCoupons.com. After searching all over, I found $5 off my TOMS purchase there.
Some of my other favorites for one of a kind discounts or deal round ups:
- Slickdeals.net. Where people post the best deal finds on various products. I use this when I am shopping for electronics. Or free magazine subscriptions!
- Dealnews. Similar to slickdeals, but has a cleaner format, and more retail store deals.
- Fantabulously Frugal. This blog is great for any girly deals: fashion, fitness, beauty deals. Just last week I used a promo code they posted for a 2 year subscription of Fitness Magazine for free!
- Restaurant.com. We rarely go out to dinner without using some kind of deal anymore. MommySavesBig always has promo codes for Restaurant.com so when they offer an 80% off promo for a restaurant.com gift certificate we get them for all of our favorite restaurants that are on the site. For $2, we get a $25 gift certificate!
- I am also a big fan of both: Living Social and Groupon for any other restaurant, shopping, or event deals.
- Rue La La. Is always great for designer items at a very low price. They have some amazing sales, but you have to make sure to be there right when it starts at 11:00am EST every day, otherwise they sell out FAST. They also just changed their shipping policy to allow you to have free shipping for 30 days after you pay $9.95 instead of $9.95 each time (yuck). So I’m excited about that!
Organize coupons by category and expiration. Clipping coupons is great and exciting to find ones for some of your favorite products, but what good are they if you just stuff them in your purse and forget about them until after they expire?
I have been storing them in envelopes, but they were getting destroyed quickly, so recently I found this handy/cute canvas coupon organizer on Amazon.com (only because dealnews featured it at a discount 😉 and have been using it to store everything. By keeping it in my car, I am always prepared for any unplanned grocery store, Target, or mall visits.
How do you feel about couponing? Do you have any tricks that I am missing? Please share 🙂