You know that while I am not a big spender, I am not a frugalista! Please welcome Claire to 3 Boys and a Dog to help us understand the whole couponing craze! ~Kelli
When I started my saving money journey many years ago, I firmly believed that coupons were not effective money-savers. I also thought they were a terrible waste of time. I was staunchly “anti-coupons”, and I believed strongly that a no-brand policy in my purchases was the real way to money saving. If you had asked me then why I thought coupons didn’t work, I would have gladly told you the following things:
Why I Thought Coupons Didn’t Work
- With coupons, you spend money on brand-name items you don’t need simply because you have a coupon that takes a few pennies off the higher purchase price.
- Coupons trick you into buying more than you need – in quantity – in order to fulfill the restrictions of a particular coupon. For example, you buy two boxes of cereal instead of one because you have a coupon that is good for $.75 off on two boxes – but you never needed two boxes!
- Ultimately coupons aren’t worth it because generic is just as effective, and always costs less.
It wasn’t until I stumbled upon some saving money blogs a few years back that I began to realize how dead wrong I was. It turned out the problem wasn’t with the coupons, the problem was with how I was using them. Although some of my earlier thoughts about coupons may make sense in isolation – after all, is it really worth it to clip one coupon that saves you only $.25? – the key to effective couponing is combining multiple couponing tactics to get BIG savings. By doing this, you can save far more than you ever will buying generic. Going a step further, once you get good at the couponing game, you can easily bring home hundreds of dollars a month in freebies. Let’s revisit the three reasons I used to think coupons didn’t work in light of what I now know.
Why I Know Coupons Really DO Work
- Brand-name items serve up more coupons than generic items. Thus, if you know how to use coupons well, you can consistently get brand-name items for much less than generic items.
- Buying more than you need is key to developing a full, low-cost stockpile of grocery, household, and toiletry items. A well-stocked stockpile means that you never have to pay full price for anything.
- Brand-name items sometimes really are better – and getting them for less than generic makes it a win-win!
If I’ve swayed you at all to becoming more interested in testing out the waters with couponing, you likely are now looking for real strategies you can use to actually make coupons work in your daily life. Here are a few good ones:
Simple Couponing Strategies to Save Big
- Combine coupons with store deals: Using a manufacturer’s coupon on top of a price markdown at your local store means double the savings.
- Combine coupons with store reward programs: Many stores have their own reward programs – like the ECB program at CVS or the Register Rewards program at Walgreens. Using a coupon on top of this type of promotion can regularly get you free or low cost products.
- Use two coupons when a store has a Buy-One-Get-One deal (one for each item) to save big.
- Combine a coupon with a mail-in rebate.
If you’ve never gotten into couponing, and still think that it seems like a waste of time for a small pay-off, I encourage you to try one or two of these couponing strategies today to see if they help you find bigger savings. If you’re like me, you just might get hooked!
Claire teaches a FREE coupon class at her blog, Saving Money Plan. A new class is starting right now!