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You know the feeling, you’re at your favorite store again to grab a “few” things, you get to the register, and the cashier gives you the total, $141.50, what????
You swipe your card while at the same time you’re thinking what the heck did I buy? Everything was on sale, how did I spend that much?
After you move away from the register, you check your receipt hoping something rang up wrong, and you could go to customer service and correct it. But you discover that everything rang up correctly. You think to yourself, why didn’t I bother to add it up before going to cash out?
That used to be me every time I stepped into Target.
So what changed?
I started using coupons. Yes, simple as that, and I am not talking about .50 here $1 there, I learned the proper way to use coupons and started shopping strategically. I have cut my costs by at least 50 to 75%.
Once I discovered coupons, I was instantly hooked. It took a little while to learn all the ways I could save and how to use them strategically, but it was so worth it. I save thousands of dollars a year with coupons, and it doesn’t take all that much time once you get the hang of it.
I love coupons, coupons to me are like free money, it became a challenge to see how much I could save each time I went shopping. But even if you don’t plan on becoming a crazy coupon lady, you can still save thousands of dollars a year by learning how to use coupons.
Most of us are on a budget. Essential items like toilet paper, trash bags, soap, shampoo, toothpaste, and more seem to take up a large part of many family budgets, but that doesn’t have to be the case.
What if I told you that you could get most of your necessities for at least half off or sometimes even FREE? I haven’t paid for toothpaste or mouthwash in years, and I can donate these items to all members of my family just because I’ve been couponing consistently with a strategy.
Coupons are like cash! If you use them correctly and at the right time, you can get FREE Items. If you take the time to learn how to coupon, you will be well off, and you will be able to free up money in your budget to put towards debt and add to your savings.
Related: How to Start Couponing Even When You’re Busy
Most people only dabble in coupon usage. They might check out the circulars in their Sunday paper, clip one or two coupons that look good, and probably forget to use them when they’re at the checkout counter (I’ve done that, that $1 off adds up!).
Couponing is a well-planned method of shopping and saving. I’m going to show you how to use coupons to save money and achieve great financial results from your efforts. It can be a lot of fun once you get the hang of it, each trip to the grocery store becoming somewhat of a challenge you engage in. Plus, you’ll never want to pay full price again.
It also gets easier the more you do it!
This is a very easy answer. Why not? Like I mentioned before, coupons are like cash. Using coupons makes you a SMART shopper. Every dollar you save on necessities is a dollar that can go towards other money goals like savings, retirement, vacations, and more.
Now let’s get into how to find coupons, use them, organize them and more.
WHERE TO FIND COUPONS
To start couponing, you will have to know where to find coupons. Where are they? I hear a lot of people say they can never find coupons for what they use, and I’m here to tell you there are coupons out there for almost everything.
I use organic products as well as regular products, and I use coupons for both.
Now let’s cover some of the most popular places to find coupons.
Find Coupons in the Newspaper
Newspapers are the first stop when you want to look for coupons. Even beginner couponers know that the Sunday paper offers an excellent insert filled with various coupons. In your Sunday paper, you will usually see the Smart Source (SS) coupon insert appear on a weekly basis (with some holiday exceptions).
The Procter and Gamble (P&G) insert appears at the start of each month; this one is very valuable! Some areas also have the RedPlum in the Sunday Paper or in areas like where I live it comes in the mail weekly. For the areas that come in the mail, you should be able to collect a lot from friends and family and even from recycling bins if you’re so inclined. These are free so gather as many as you can.
For newspaper coupons, you should look into getting a cheap or discounted subscription for just the Sunday edition.
Smart Source & RetailMeNot are two of the inserts you may be able to find in your Sunday paper as well as a monthly P&G insert.
Find Coupons Online
As a couponer who is just starting out, you might think that newspaper coupon inserts are the main way of getting coupons. While they do give you plenty of savings, you have to search other places, too. Online printable coupons are one huge way to save and are becoming more and more popular.
You may also like: How to Print Free for Life
You can look to sites like coupons.com, smartsource.com, and pggoodeveryday.com for loads of printable coupons. You can even print coupons right from coupon blogs like mine (Esavingsblog.com) here.
Don’t see a Coupon you want? Check sites like Coupon Tom. Just type in the name or brand name and it will display where you can find a coupon. For example, need bread? Type “bread” and see the results come up for where to get coupons for bread.
Get Coupons From the Manufacturer
Besides the newspaper, magazine and online coupons, you can also go straight to the source – the companies that make the products that you like to use.
Why do manufacturers like giving coupons to customers?
A customer who saves money is happy, and a happy customer becomes a loyal customer. Usually, all you have to do to tap into this source is find the company online and sign up for their mailing list or newsletters. Some manufacturers have social media pages, too so be sure to check those out for coupons and deals.
Another strategy would be to look for the company’s contact information and email them! Tell them how much you enjoy their products and ask if they would send you some coupons. If you do this be sure to include your mailing address to make it easier for them to send out your coupons.
Digital Coupons and Coupon Apps (MY FAVORTE)
Digital coupons are not the same as the coupons you clip. You never actually even touch them. This can be perfect if you don’t much time to spend finding and clipping coupons. You can simply go on your computer or phone and clip coupons from there even right at the store!
For example, CVS and Walgreens have digital coupons on their website and in their apps. You will need to have an account with them and be signed up for their rewards programs (free) to add the coupons to your account. Once a coupon is activated or added, the coupon amount will come off at checkout automatically when buying the specified items. Be sure to always use your rewards card at the store for the coupons to come off.
Most grocery stores have digital coupons as well so be sure to checkout their websites to get started using them. The grocery store in my area usually gives out a free item each week, all i need to do is digitally clip it in my account.
Another way to save a bunch of money is with coupon apps. Popular coupon apps like Ibotta, coupons.com app, and Shopkick allow you to save money without ever having to clip a paper coupon. Check out the list of my Top 10 Coupon Apps to learn more and check out my favorites.
READING YOUR COUPONS
The first thing you want to do before you start using your coupons is to read them carefully. There are three things you will need to look out for when reading your coupons.
• Expiration Date
• Specific Item the coupon is for
• Number of Items you need to buy to use that coupon
The expiration date will usually be right at the top of the coupon, be sure to check the month, day and year.
Check the coupon and see how many of that particular product you need to buy.
The other thing you want to look at is the part with the fine print, which usually starts with the word “Consumer.” Look for limits per purchase and # of “Like Coupons” per purchase, household, etc. Per Purchase means per item, so on this coupon, you can use 4 of these coupons assuming you are buying 4 of the items the coupon is for.
If you’re using digital coupons you also want to read them carefully.
Each store has its own coupon policy as well so it may vary on how many coupons you can use.
ORGANIZING YOUR COUPONS
Organizing your coupons is critical to helping you save money. If you’re struggling to find coupons when you need them you will end up quitting.
I’ve been couponing for years and because I had noticed all the coupon pros using coupon binders I thought I needed one. Boy was I wrong!
I found it frustrating to spend time filling a coupon binder only to watch most of the coupons expire. I quickly got rid of my coupon binder and went back to using coupon wallets.
This isn’t to say that it isn’t for you, I may just be lazy or find spending the time to clip each coupon frustrating but you may like doing it.
I wish I could tell you there was one perfect way to organize your coupons but everyone does it their own way for what works for them.
So it doesn’t matter if you pick up one of those coupon folders that look like an accordion wallet or if you have a filing system that’s state of the art – just use something and use it without fail.