Here’s the thing about coupons. I’m always deliriously happy to come across a coupon for something that I love to use and I know I’m going to buy. To me, that coupon is worth clipping or printing. However, I am not a person who has a coupon collection. I have found that bringing a bunch of coupons with me to the grocery store will actually cost me more money because I will end up buying things that I would not normally buy simply because I have a coupon. Fifty cents off a yogurt? I better get it, even though no one in my house eats yogurt. I just have that sort of personality. However, I know a lot of people who swear by their coupons. They are supremely organized, vigilant and more than willing to bide their time in order to get the most bang for their coupon buck. Here’s what they say you need to know:
• Diversify. If you are relying only on the packets of coupons that come with your Sunday newspaper, you’re missing out. That is a great resource, and you should start your coupon clipping there. However, keep your eyes peeled in magazines, and look through that annoying junk mail that arrives in your mailbox a couple of times a week. Grocery stores often include coupons in their flyers and circulars. You don’t want to miss out.
• Think beyond the coupon clipping. It’s all about printing too. Go online and look for coupons. They are everywhere in the digital space. Check your favorite grocery store’s website and be sure to check out your favorite brands as well. You can find printable coupons on sites like www.coupons.com, www.couponnetwork.com and www.printablecouponsanddeals.com.
• Get to know SmartSource. There are many coupon companies, but this one makes coupon clipping and coupon printing efficient and fun. Start with their website, download their smart phone app, follow them on Twitter and make sure you provide your zip code so you can take advantage of the local deals that they will research just for your region.
• Maximize your savings. If you have the time and the energy, you can really save money with your coupons by taking them to the stores where the items you plan to buy are already on sale. Streamline your shopping trips whenever you can. For example, if your grocery store has a buy one get one free sale on a box of cereal and you have a coupon for $2.00 off that cereal, you’re walking away with two boxes of cereal for half the price of one.
• Conduct a coupon review once in a while. Expired coupons are depressing, and you don’t want to bring them with you on your shopping trips. Go through your coupon collection once in a while to make sure all those you have are still valid.
• Be aware of limits. Thanks to the popularity of “Extreme Couponing,” where customers are known to pay about 92 cents for a basket full of groceries, some stores are putting limits on the amount of coupons you can use in a single trip. Check with the manager before you start saving.