It seems like consumers are being squeezed on every side these days. People are desperately seeking jobs and, when they find them, are often paid much less than they would have been before the recent recession. Add to that the fact that, between rising fuel prices and attempts by companies to stay in business, goods and services seem to cost more every day and you start noticing how small the balance in your bank account starts looking.
Fortunately, there is a great way to start saving money on everyday purchases: coupons. Some people seem to take it to extremes, either limiting all of their purchases to things they have coupons for or using every coupon they find, regardless of their needs. You can find a happy medium, though, and keep it simple to boot. Planning and organization, in addition to knowing where to look for coupons, are important skills to develop for couponing. Master those and you’ll soon enjoy less hassle and a fuller bank account.
The most important part of couponing is finding the coupons. I know of people who only use the coupons in the sheets you pick up at the supermarket, but there are dozens more options that are just as easily accessible. I probably receive 3-4 coupon books in my mail every month that are full of brand and store coupons for a dizzying array of products, from hair coloring to fresh fruit and beyond.
If you receive a daily or weekly newspaper, you probably end up glossing over dozens of coupons that could be saving you money. Lastly, don’t be afraid to seek out online coupon sites. You can often find extra special deals through coupons offered online. Nearly every business, including restaurants, dry cleaners and grocery stores, offer online coupons.
Make sure you’re not cutting out coupons just because something looks like it may be a good deal. Only seriously consider coupons on items that you would normally buy. Don’t be afraid to branch out, though. If you normally use one brand of paper towel but see a coupon for a competing brand that is a better deal than you normally get, go for it! Further, consider planning your meals in advance to eliminate emergency trips to the store. This will give you time to hunt for bargains and coupons, saving you more money.
If you’re a regular coupon collector like me you’ve probably ended up with a disorganized mass of coupons at one time or another. This makes it more difficult to use your coupons effectively, leading to stress and less of a desire to continue using coupons. Try out different methods of organizing your coupons so you don’t have to worry about misplacing any during your trip to the store. For groceries, I plan out my trip to the store, then organize my coupons based on the route I will take so I can further separate the coupons I end up using from the ones I had intended to use but didn’t for one reason or another.
Couponing is a rewarding, money-saving practice that can seem daunting at first glance. If you approach it in a structured, logical manner, though, you can turn it into a simple, efficient task that will have you planning out your trips to the store and considering your purchases more, leading to even further savings.
A note from Karen:
What I like here is the message that couponing can be a simple practice that not only helps save money but eliminate stress. “Extreme couponing” — obsessing over finding the best deal, going out of your way to only buy items for which you have coupons, or stocking up on discounted items — ultimately doesn’t work to your advantage. For one thing, your time may be better spent engaging in activities that enrich your mind, body, and spirit rather than saving you a few pennies. For another, stocking up on items simply because they’re discounted sends the wrong message to the universe. Stockpiling indicates a fear of lack — and when you send feelings of lack into the universe, that’s what you’ll get in return. Instead of worrying that you don’t have enough of something or buying something just because it’s on sale, try to simplify your routine and see what you can do without. You may be surprised.
Planning your meals in advance is another great tip that can not only save you money, but help you make healthier choices and avoid the interior grocery store aisles that are packed with chemical-laden processed foods. Also aim to take advantage of lower prices on seasonal produce and experiment with some different foods, like winter squashes.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Have a Namaste.