Guest Author - Lori Phillips
No doubt that savvy couponing can save big bucks, but to do it right requires more time, effort and know-how than people are willing to admit. It can be a part- or full-time job! And if you don’t have fairly good organizing skills, amassing coupons can become a nightmare.
The wisest and most skilled couponers not only clip coupons, they swap coupons with others, keep track of weekly sale prices of all the different stores, sign up for online coupons and coupon notification sites, send for rebates, stockpile sales items, purge their massive coupon collections for expired coupons, mail manufacturers and so much more that it really is a job. But because couponing can be financially rewarding, it also brings emotional rewards as well. However, this site addresses “living simply” and not “living frugally” so I encourage you to consult BellaOnline’s Frugal Living site for coupon strategies. My goal is to help you simplify your coupon efforts.
Who can resist free money? That is what a coupon is. Coupon values range from .25 cents to $20 or more, depending on the product. I went from clipping every coupon I could find, filing them in a coupon holder then agonized when I either forgot to use them before they expired or felt frustrated when looking for a coupon while standing in grocery aisles. I wanted to save money, but I did not want to add couponing to my already lengthy list of household chores.
Coupons can cost you money
There are downsides to couponing, aside from the time and effort required to clip and organize them. Coupons are free money in a sense, but if they tempt you into buying products you normally wouldn’t buy, they actually force you to increase your grocery bill. They can be a good way to introduce you to new products that you might like to try, but be sure you understand that they end up being an added cost. Most of the time, higher priced products are the ones that offer coupons. Check prices of other brands. Comparable products without coupons can be lesser priced that the product with your coupon
How to really clip and save
1. The most important rule here is to clip coupons only for products you use. If you’re brand loyal, be on the look-out for those products.
2. Snag coupons for products that you would like to try. If a new product looks fun and appealing, go ahead and use the coupon for a discounted trial purchase.
3. Sign up for online coupons for your favorite products at the manufacturer’s websites. You can print them out or better, be given the discount at the register automatically when you use your store card.
4. Don’t be tempted by rebates unless you know you will turn in the receipt and rebate form to the manufacturer. Companies freely offer rebates because most people can’t resist the offer but don’t follow through.
Stop kicking yourself
Do you ever see an unexpected sales price for a product that you *know* you have a coupon for but left at home or tossed out? I used to get frustrated when I forgot a coupon and missed out on what would have been a .25 tube of toothpaste or free bottle of soda. Most of the free items are for junk foods I wouldn’t normally buy but if it would have been *free* then I couldn’t resist. But I stopped kicking myself over these missed opportunities because 1. there will always be more coupons and sales in this on-going game. I didn’t really miss out on anything that was a life-or-death deal; and 2. while free money is good, no coupon is better than a stress-free life.
Gone is my thick coupon holder. Today, I usually carry only the few coupons for products that I need. I skip a lot of *deals* if they require rebates or multiple purchases. Because my grocery list is very basic and simple, I still end up saving a lot of money.