You’ve probably seen the headlines every few months: A family saves hundreds of dollars on groceries simply by using coupons. While extreme couponing has practically become a sport among those who want to save money, raking in those amazing savings takes a lot of work. Here’s how to truly save cash with coupons without making it a full-time job.
- Don’t buy the newspaper. In order to get the coupons, you have to buy the newspaper, right? That means at least one dollar of your cash is gone to buying paper. Rather than do that, check with your local recycling center – many centers have an area of newspapers and are happy to let you take the coupons for free.
- Ignore all other advertising. Those coupon books do a great job of getting your attention for other products, especially those you really don’t need. Have you ever noticed how full a newspaper feels when it’s stuffed full of fliers? Those fliers are there to part you from your cash! Toss the fliers and focus only on the coupons.
- Clip only what you will really use. Will you really buy those three bottles of shampoo to get one dollar off? Will you really use that new cereal when you rarely eat breakfast? Rather than be enticed by big discount coupons, consider what you really use and clip accordingly.
- Compare name-brand to generics. When you get to the store, don’t assume that the coupons will make your branded products cheaper than anything else on the shelf. Generic items are often just as good, last just as long and cost a fraction of the big-name prices. Before you jump at using the coupon, compare the generic costs. If the generic is cheaper, go that route and leave the coupon for someone who isn’t as frugal as you are!
- Get your coupons online. You can often find great coupons online. With a color printer and a few clicks of the mouse, you can print coupons for almost everything. In many cases you can print two coupons, thus extending your savings even further. The catch? Most online coupons expire within one month, so don’t print them out until you know you are ready to use them.
- Don’t get into a time crunch. Don’t spend too much time on coupons. Remember, your time is valuable, and spending hours figuring out how to save a few bucks on groceries is probably not worth the time investment. Be careful when you are in the store, too – walking down the aisles over and over to find that one elusive item just to use a coupon is a big waste of time, and it could cost you a lot of money if you give in to the temptation lurking on those shelves!
- Look for double coupon days. Manufacturer’s coupons can often be doubled at some retailers. Look for double-coupon days announced in grocery store fliers. You might be surprised at just how much money you can save – this kind of promotion can make expensive brand-name items cost even less than generics.
The best coupons are those that offer more than one dollar off on an item that you often use. Introductory coupons, or those that offer a great deal of money off a new product, might also be useful if you want to try something new – but the tried-and-true items, with their dollar-off coupons, are always the best way to really save some dough in the checkout line.