How to Coupon: 8 Tips for the Casual Couponer
Are you “casually” interested in couponing? You enjoy saving money, but you’re freaked out by those lunatics with a spare bedroom crammed full of toothpaste, shampoo and canned food? If you want to lower your grocery bill, but don’t want to turn couponing into a part-time job, then these tips are for you.
I was inspired by this list published by the Frugal Foodie over at Mint, but I’ve reorganized the tips and added some based on my own experience. First up, five tips to help you save even if you only have less than a half hour a week to devote to couponing:
1. Make a grocery list — and stick to it! I can’t emphasize this enough. You have to shop anyway, so spend a few minutes planning out your week of meals and then make a shopping list. Research has found that unplanned purchases add an extra 20 percent to the average grocery bill. Shop once a week, and you avoid multiple trips to the store (and thus, multiple chances to overspend).
2. Don’t “spave”! That is: “spend to save,” or buy something just because it’s cheap. If you wouldn’t normally buy it, don’t.
3. Keep your eyes peeled! You don’t necessarily have to go hunting for coupons, they’re everywhere: those “blinkie” dispensers in stores, “peelies” on products, printed out with your grocery receipt or even on the back of the receipt itself. Instead of throwing these coupons away or walking right by them in the store, take a sec to see if they’re for something you need.
5. Shop on double (or triple) coupon days! If your local store doubles or even triples coupons on certain days, then you could dramatically increase your savings by simply changing the day you shop.
So, have you been bitten by couponing bug? These three tips take your savings to the next level, while still avoiding anything extreme:
1. Match coupons with sales! You’ll save even more if you use your coupons to save on products that are already on sale. Which sometimes means you have to …
2. Wait! The week a coupon comes out is rarely the best time to use it; the product will often go on sale two or three weeks later. So save your coupons for the best deal. If that seems like a headache, sites like Couponmom.com make it easier by posting weekly lists that match sales with coupons.
3. Stack discounts! Almost all stores accept a manufacturer’s coupon and a store coupon on each product, so try to collect both.
Shop smart and save! Check out more tips on couponing and savvy shopping!