I have learned, however, that coupons can save consumers (yes, even ones like me) money if used correctly. What is correctly? Before I share my advice on how to use coupons, I would first like to give credit to a few others who actually made me re-think the concept of "coupon-ing". My sis-in-law, Angie, first told me about how people save money with coupons. I wasn't interested at the time because I pretty much shopped exclusively at Whole Foods and was more concerned with organics than price. These days, I am really pinching pennies, so I have new motivation, I suppose. Also, the websites Grocery Game and Coupon Mom are helpful resources if you're trying to learn to use coupons. And yes, you do have to learn how to use coupons in order for them to actually save you money.
Ok, ok, so credit has been given where credit is due--now, on to my savings tips.
- Buy the Sunday paper. Not only are there great comics (which I am a sucker for), crossword puzzles, and of course news--it is chock-full of coupons.
- Only use coupons for items that you actually use, or products that you are not brand-picky about. (For instance, if there's a great deal on dishwasher detergent but it's not the one you typically use--it may be worth trying the brand that you can get a deal on. Why not?)
- Study the ads for your local store. Truth be told, I am not interested in going from store to store in search of a deal, so I stick to just my favorite store--Publix. I know that they announce the weeks specials on Thursdays. I pull the ads up online and use my coupons in conjunction with the weeks specials.
- Use printable online coupons. I use Coupon Bug and non-store specific coupons found on the Albertson's website of all places.
- Use coupons with your store's promotions. For instance, this week Publix is having a buy-one-get-one-free promo on Betty Crocker muffin mixes. Score, right? But even better--I have a coupon for $1 off when you buy two! I get the two muffin mixes for the price of one, less one dollar. Ultimately, I spend $1.50 total on two Betty Crocker muffin mixes--only $ .75 each!
- Don't feel like you're being cheap! If you can save money, save it! Think of all the other wonderful things your money can do.
...And I only bought staple items that I actually use and need.
*The bummer is that there are not coupons for produce or meats, which I would estimate that I generally spend 70% of my grocery money on. However, you can still significantly save on produce and meats by shopping with the specials. If broccoli is on special, incorporate it into your meals for the week. If whole chickens are on sale, roast a chicken! Shop with the specials!
Also, frequent your local farmer's markets, if they're available. Produce is much cheaper through these venues because of low overhead and minimal mark-up. And as a bonus, you can feel good about supporting the "little man" and your local economy.