It’s not uncommon for grocery bills to be one of our largest household expenses. Generally speaking, there is a coupon for almost everything you buy. Couponing provides a means to huge savings, but is it worth your time? Since avid couponers are able to get cartfuls of groceries for pennies, it is tempting to get on the coupon train. Wondering how to get started?
Couponing is all about getting rock-bottom prices. Avid couponers can walk away from the grocery store with a cartful of groceries, perhaps spending 80% less than they would have.
Why become a Couponer?
Who wouldn’t want to get $155 worth of groceries for just $12? One couponer said she used couponing as a method to get out of credit card debt, and now she’s building her savings. Some serious couponers are able to get stores to pay THEM!
In a Wall Street Journal article, “Are Coupons Worth It? (Doing the Math on Coupons)” the author estimates that if you spend an hour cutting and clipping coupons, you can save about $100.
In addition, you benefit in other ways:
- Clipping coupons can make you more price-conscious when you shop.
- Clipping coupons can make you more aware of the best places to buy certain items, e.g., meat at Costco, toilet paper at Wal-Mart, BOGO’s (buy one, get one free specials) at Target, etc.
- Clipping coupons can make you less prone to impulse purchases.
So why doesn’t everyone become a Couponer?
Not everyone has the time to clip coupons or search for them online. But probably the most important reason is that it requires an entirely new attitude towards shopping. To take advantage of multiple coupons for the same thing or to use “get one free when you buy four,” you’ll need to stock up—on things like toothpaste, shampoo, or cereal—rather than just buying one or two. And you’ll need to buy brands you don’t normally buy. But, this can be a great opportunity to try something new and less expensive. There’s really nothing to lose because if it doesn’t work out, you can always switch back to your staple brand, and this time, you managed to save a little money.
How to be an effective coupon shopper
Here are some ways you can save with coupons, compiled from successful couponers.
1. Look online for store coupons, which you can load onto your loyalty card before you visit the store. Use store credits (earned through loyalty programs) to foot the rest of the bill!
2. Stockpile Sunday papers (to get duplicate copies of coupons); it’s like free money. Following sales this way will save you tons of cash.
3. Combine store promotions, coupons, and online coupons for the best deals. Here’s an example: Mary has seven coupons, each for $1.00 off seafood. That means if she places seven seafood orders at the meat counter, each costing around $1.00, everything will be free! In order to do so, she’ll need to order small quantities multiple times.
4. Don’t throw away coupons; they may have a long shelf life. Check expiration dates carefully. Learn which stores will accept coupons beyond the expiration date.
5. Find out your store’s coupon policy; some stores accept face value (50 cent coupon = 50 cents) others allow you to stack coupons or “double coupons.” You will save loads more when you can double coupons.
6. Shop once a week; eliminate those extra trips, which can really break the budget. If it’s not on your list, don’t buy it! And don’t buy things you don’t need just so you can use a coupon.