- Personal Finance
How to Find Coupons and How Using Coupons Will Save Money
With the current economic downturn, you may have decided that it is time to start using coupons. If you are the “Average Jill” like me, you have dabbled in the art of coupon clipping in the past, but that’s all; you’ve cut a coupon here and a coupon there. Maybe you even bought one of those plastic coupon sorters with the best of intensions on using it, but never did. (Okay, I did start using mine.)
If you are looking at your monthly budget and wondering, where can I save some money? Using grocery coupons in conjunction with in-store sales is a pretty painless way to start saving some serious money. It takes very little of your time.
Don’t worry, you don’t have to post on Hotcouponworld.com, with pictures of your “stashes” (trial size toothpastes and shampoos) obtained free, of course, using coupons. You don’t need to keep a hundred page database of Walmart prices for your comparison shopping. (However, if you go on Hotcouponworld.com, you will find several such databases.)
Is it Worth Your Time?
I am a stay at home mom raising two boys ages 7 and 4, so for me, it is worth the time and effort to use coupons. I can spend up to $200 per week on groceries and essentials. If I save just 10% every week, over the course of one year, I will save over $1000. If I put just a little more effort in and shoot for a 20% savings every week with coupons, then I can save over $2,000 per year!
The hardcore coupon shoppers can save much more than 20% per week, and they take pride in getting a lot of free stuff by doing extensive research and using the right coupons. You may not want a drawer full of trial size toothpaste! If you are like me, you are only interested in saving a little money without spending a lot of time to do it.
There are several online coupon databases, like www.couponmom.com, that make finding and using coupons very easy, and almost fun! Oprah recently had Stephanie Nelson, a.k.a. the Coupon Mom, on her show. She is the founder of Couponmom.com and the author of “Greatest Secrets of the Coupon Mom.”
I’ll admit it, I already knew about the Coupon Mom a few years ago, but chose to ignore her advice. Now, under the current economic climate, I am taking a second look. She may not be the first, and won’t be the last of the online coupon resources. However, her site includes several store databases that I do shop at, and her website is one of the easiest to navigate.
This free, online coupon database also offers an 11 page e-book, “Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half,” that will get you started. If you take a moment to read this, you will find that it’s great information. The site will help you to become a ‘strategic shopper’, possibly saving hundreds if not thousands dollars in groceries every year!
Becoming the Strategic Shopper
The prices of grocery items can fluctuate by 50% over a period of several weeks, the ‘strategic shopper’ not only buys a few of the same item when the prices are low (stocking up) but also uses coupons for extra savings. Many grocery stores will double coupons up to 99 cents and some will accept more than one coupon for the same item. Just ask! Couponmom.com is updated weekly with several different grocery stores, their deals, and the corresponding coupons from the Sunday paper coupon inserts.
The premise of spending hours of mindless coupon clipping is over. Your job is to get the Sunday paper and collect, date and file the coupon inserts. These are commonly known as Smart Source, Red Plum and P&G. The Couponmom.com database does the rest. Look up your grocery store in the database, check off those deals that interest you, and print your list. The database will list the sale item and indicate the coupon location, for example, “Smart Source, 02-08”, providing the date it was issued, the quantity of the item you need to buy to use the coupon, the sale price, and the savings after coupons. Now just locate your insert, find that coupon, and clip it.
Couponmom.com also has a database of free Internet coupons. The database will indicate if an Internet coupon is available for an item, in addition to the Sunday newspaper coupons. If you find an Internet coupon on your grocery database, go to the Internet coupon database, locate the coupon and print it.
While many stores now accept the Internet coupons, if they are not easily scanned, some cashiers may reject them. Make sure that you print a good, legible copy that can be easily scanned, and that doesn’t get wrinkled in your travels.
The Coupon mom has a database of Walmart, CVS and Walgreens deals. For these stores, Couponmom.com has really helped me to save money. I shop at these stores for most everything other than food, such as paper goods, medicines, and cleaning products. Some of the database prices can be slightly lower than the Walmart’s prices here in MA, because prices vary from store to store.
If I have time, I scan the Walgreen’s and CVS databases for items that are a 50% savings or over. I also look for the “buy one get on free” deal, because percentage-wise, these are the best savings a store can offer.
Give It A Try
Just by being aware of sale items and using a few coupons, I have seen my grocery bill go down at least 10% per week. Resources like Couponmom.com make the process simple. Now is the perfect time to give it a try, and start saving.