4 Ways For Beginners To Save With Coupons

There are many different ways to save on coupons.  Many people argue that coupons aren’t worth the time it takes to collect and use them.  Others say that coupons actually make people spend more because they use the coupon as an excuse to buy something that they wouldn’t.

I think coupons are great and that they can be used quickly and in ways that save you money.

Here are a few effective ways to use coupons:

  1. Clip them from the Sunday paper – If you get the paper, look through the coupons.  You’d be surprised to see what’s in there.  Chances are, you’ll find something that you were planning on buying during your next trip to the store.
  2. Look online – Coupons.com and Smartsource.com are great sources for grocery and home care coupons.  If you don’t get the paper, this is a great way to save.  All you need is access to a printer.
  3. Look before you check-out online – If you shop online, there’s a pretty good chance that you can find a coupon for your purchase.  Say you’re buying something from Gap.  Add your items to your cart, but before you check out, do a Google search for “Gap coupon code” and you could find a code that will save you a percentage off or free shipping, all for typing in a few characters!
  4. Keep it simple – Saving money with coupons doesn’t have to be a hard process or involve lugging around a bunch of coupons.  Start with just a couple of coupons here and there, and soon you’ll find that saving money doesn’t have to be complicated or take a lot of time.

What are your favorite coupon strategies?  Have you ever passed up a coupon because it was just too much trouble?

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The Economy Must Be Improving

Without looking at any numbers or statistics, I can tell that the economy must be getting better.

Why?

Because good coupon deals are getting harder to come by.

We like to eat out.  We use a variety of sources, including the Entertainment Book, Restaurant.com, and coupons in the local papers to find deals.

Here are a few things I’ve noticed lately:

  • Recently, my wife and I were going to go to a local Mexican restaurant, and use an Entertainment coupon that we’ve used every year.  It was a buy-one-get-one special up to $8 off.  Saving $8 was a good deal, but when I went to grab the coupon, this year they had added ‘with the purchase of two beverages’.  Typically, we just get water when we go out, and with even a diet Coke being $2.50 these days, that would net to a ‘savings’ of $3.  Not such a great deal after all.  We ended up finding a different Mexican restaurant with a coupon that didn’t have this restriction.  But I’m seeing more and more of this popping up.
  • Many restaurants that participate in Restaurant.com offer $10 or $25 gift certificates for purchase on the popular site.  Even with Little Boy Beagle, many times buying $25 worth of food and drinks is too much, so we typically look for $10 certificates.  More and more, though, the $10 options specify that they’re for ‘Lunch Only’.  We like going out for dinner, so these too have been harder to come by.
  • Many coupons in local papers have gone from buy-one-get-one-free to buy-one-get-one-half-off.

Coupons haven’t disappeared, but it’s apparent that they are getting less generous.  I have no problems with this.  If a business is seeing an uptick in sales, the pressure lessens for them to get people in the door at reduced rates.  Still, as someone who loves saving money and makes no apologies for it, I have definitely noticed this trend increase over the past few months.

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Cut ALL Your Coupons With Scissors

Jill Cataldois a coupon expert who provides great resources with anything and everything couponing.

In this article, she talks about ‘gang cutting’ coupons, which was prominently featured in the TLC Extreme Couponing episode that I watched, which basically involves cutting multiple copies of the same coupon at once, with scissors, a paper cutter, or some other device.

Read Jill’s article to find out why that’s not allowed, and why if it continues, it could hurt everybody who does use coupons (including most of us who use them properly), including the stores.

I also loved the story in the middle about ‘Breen Laundry Detergent’.  Does anybody remember this product from back in the 1970’s.  Probably not, but you’ll have to read the article to find out why.

Have a great weekend and Happy Easter!

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Extreme Couponing (aka Unleash The Inner Crazy)

My wife clued me into Monday night’s showing of ‘Extreme Couponing’ on TLC.  For those who might not have caught the buzz, each 30-minute episode features two stories of individuals (or families) who save outrageous amounts of money at the grocery store by use of coupons.

My wife and I both watched it, and while the savings by each of the two women featured in the first episode was impressive (98% off their bill in one case), the show didn’t inspire us to start following any of the trends in the episode.

In fact, I walked away feeling more annoyed than anything else.

First, we do use coupons.  My wife goes through the Sunday paper inserts every week.  I print out coupons from various websites, and we use a local site called Bargains to Bounty to match coupons with sales to yield even better savings.  We don’t come close to 98% savings for any week, but we do save some good money.

Now, onto why the presentation of these ‘extreme’ couponers annoyed me:

  • The time factor – One woman spent over five hours in the grocery store.  Another said that she does four shopping trips per week and spends four hours per trip planning.  That’s an awful lot of time to commit to shopping.
  • The processed factor – So much of the food that they showed them loading up on was processed foods.  Now, we’re not perfect by any means when it comes to processed food, but I simply don’t see how you can get $500+ worth of groceries for $6 and walk away with any fresh fruits or vegetables.
  • The gross factor – One deal saw a lady buying package after package of hot dogs. My wife saw the type they were and said ‘Eww, those are disgusting.’  Hot dogs that start off at $1.39 a package to begin with, well I don’t care how cheap you can get them for.  No thanks!
  • The ‘junk’ factor – One of TLC’s more popular shows was right after ‘Extreme Couponing’ and I don’t think it was an accident.  I get the feeling that, with all the clutter that these people accumulate, some of the people featured on this show will soon be featured on ‘Hoarders’.
  • The intensity factor – Apparently, to coupon to these extremes, you  have to be a very intense person.  At least the ladies all were that I saw.  Their intensity was a little unsettling, not to mention that one lady kept referring to her family as a ‘litter’.
  • The ‘throwaway’ factor – Even taking into account a large number of children, I just don’t see how you buy 40+ boxes of cereal, 27 bottles of mustard, or similar quantities of anything without having stuff go bad.  If you’re getting things that you can and will use, that’s fine, but if you’re getting things just for the sake of getting them, I don’t see the point.  I simply refuse to believe that all the people they show are going to use everything that they buy.

I recommend coupons.  But, I don’t recommend using this show as a guideline for those who might want to get more involved with clipping coupons.  Most people aren’t going to be able to approach the savings that these people do (and most people don’t have the house to store all this stuff without it ruling their life), but the way I look at it is that saving anything is better than saving nothing, especially if it’s a product that you’re planning on buying anyways.

What did you think about the show?

This is a show that was interesting for awhile, but that I quickly found myself unable to watch, and I certainly don’t think I would watch every day.

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