No matter how and where you find them, coupons can save you a lot of money. Bear in mind that it’s more than just clipping them out of the Sunday newspaper! In fact, savvy shoppers have learned that getting the most out of their coupons requires planning and strategy. Here are some tips on how to shop smart and maximize savings with your coupons.
1. Get Organized
First, decide on an organizational system that works best for you: whether it’s by store category, expiration date, product type, or some other method. Whatever system you choose, stick to it. Ease of access is the key here, as you want to minimize the time it takes to either look for coupons to use or add new ones that you have recently found. Think about where to store your coupons as well: whether it’s in a shoebox or in a highly organized binder, just make sure to choose a consistent location with enough space for all of your new coupons as they come in.
When you find new coupons, file them as soon as possible to avoid the chance that they’ll be lost or forgotten. You’ll also want to purge expired coupons on a regular basis to avoid clutter.
If you’re having a hard time deciding how to get started, find out here how to set-up and organize your coupons.
2. Learn The Rules
Different stores have different rules when it comes to using coupons. Get to know these, as you can save time and extra money by avoiding stores with less than favorable policies. Pay particular attention to a store’s policy on “stacking”, which refers to your ability to use multiple coupons on one product as long as they come from different sources (newspaper, store flyers, online, etc.)
For example, let’s say you have a $1.00 manufacturer coupon for a box of cereal. Then, while looking through a flyer, you find a store coupon that’s good for $1.50 off that same box of cereal. Stacking allows you to combine these two coupons for a total savings of $2.50. Although keep in mind that not all stores allow stacking. For more on coupon stacking see this handy article by Erin.
3. Timing is Everything
Coupons become even more valuable when used during a sale. Watch weekly flyers and store promotions in order to time your coupon usage for maximum savings. This works really well when buying clothes, especially if you understand how sales cycles work in the fashion industry. Notice, for example, that cold-weather clothes tend to go on sale in January, when stores are preparing to receive spring merchandise. Watch for a “50% Off” winter sale at your favorite department store, then pull out your coupon for even more savings on a new coat!
You can do this literally every week with grocery shopping. Take a few minutes to look through your chosen market’s weekly sales flyer, and take note of any items you want. Then check to see if you have coupons for these items in your collection for extra savings (this is how some people end up getting products for free).
4. Know The Prices
In order to maximize value from your coupons, it’s important to know how much something normally costs. First of all, this will help you recognize a really good deal, and whether it may be time to stock up on a particular product. Second, knowing the regular price prevents using coupons “just to use them”. Too many shoppers make this mistake, thinking it’s better to use a coupon than let it expire, even if it’s something they don’t really need. Know your prices ahead of time, and only use your coupons when you’re getting good value on a product you can actually use.
Share with us your strategies for using coupons.
This article was written by Jeff a friend of Vouchercodes.ca who has a real talent on watching the pennies. Don’t hesitate to submit to us any article that might be helpful to the community! Thanks.