Think back over the years of how many coupons and weekly special fliers you have likely tossed away in the trash or recycle bin; if you’re like many average households facing a tight budget during the rough economic ups and downs, you may start to lament all those freebies and discounts that you ignored before. Luckily, it’s never too late to start saving money by using coupons and discount offers!
Plan Your Budget First
It seems simple to just go through the Sunday paper and cut out a few coupons to use during the week, but if you do it this way, you’re likely to lose more money than you save. Why? It’s easy to give into impulse buying when stores send out discount fliers and offers to make something seem like a great bargain, even if you don’t need it or won’t use it.
Plan your budget for the week, and stick to it. Avoid just picking up items or food because it “seems like a good deal”. If you don’t need it, don’t buy it.
Along with a budget, make a complete list of things you will need, and then find the coupons for those specific items. Remember to make it fit within your budget and avoid impulse purchases.
Most coupons are good for several weeks; if you don’t need to buy something right away but think you might need it later, just save the coupon for the next week’s shopping.
Finding and Using Coupons
There’s more to finding coupons than just digging around in a newspaper or visiting your favorite retailer for their store discount flier. If you’re reading this survival guide, it means you have the Internet, and the Internet is one of the most powerful tools in helping a shopper find the best deals.
Check manufacturer websites for online specials and online coupons that can be printed out or used right on the Internet, but remember to stick to your list and budget.
There are many free coupon sites to check out that offer regional and national coupon specials that include everything from diapers and cereal to saving a few dollars on a car oil change.
Read the fine print carefully for expiration dates or restrictions. Additionally, find out which store coupons can be used along with manufacturer coupons to save even more money.
Look high and low. You can find a coupon for almost anything if you take the time to research.
With a little effort and some shopping discipline, becoming a coupon savvy consumer can definitely make a positive (and big) impact on your household’s finances. While some stores are cracking down on unethical coupon use (namely people who try to scam the retailers with over-using coupons), most stores are offering some pretty great discount deals to encourage consumers to come through their doors. While coupons are designed to make the store money, the coupon survival expert will see savings almost immediately; remember even small discounts adds up over time!
Photo credits: January first by Crystl/flickr; 11.10.08.SDC14021 by Victor Martinez/flickr
There are a ton of coupon and deal sites available on the web today. It is difficult to sift through all of them to find the best option. Tom Blanchard does all of the work for you and provides his suggestions. The couponcroc.co.uk of the UK has been one of his favorites for a long time running.