There was a time when people bartered for almost everything. Nothing went at full price and negotiating was the norm. Couponing, in a sense, is a return to the days when buyers made their best deal with sellers, saving hard-earned cash in the bargain.
I’m not an extreme couponer, but I do save money every time I shop at my two primary grocery stores. Plus, I save money via coupons at other retailers, and it’s like putting cash into my pocket.
The most practical way to start couponing is to have a system that makes sense for you, is a process you’ll regularly follow, and doesn’t overburden an already full schedule. The following are tips that will help you develop a money-saving process using coupons that fit into your normal weekly routine.
Start by setting aside the same day weekly to clip, sort and file coupons. Thinking through the process and journaling transactions will help set up a routine. Successful use of money is always set upon routine. Using a journal system with couponing can add personal depth to the process. You can plan menus, record thoughts, and note experiences or anecdotes.
Sort, file and toss coupons regularly. Give thought to a system that will let you order and use coupons with your best efficiency and ease. Storage boxes, card files, baseball card holders, notebook sheet protectors are just some ways to store coupons. Find your best system and experiment as much as needed to simplify the process.
Begin your shopping experience on home turf so to speak. Kick start your couponing at often used grocers or discount retailers as a good way to get your feet wet and begin fine tuning your process. Knowing the store layout puts the focus on matching savings to purchases and holds item hunting to a minimum.
Only buy stuff you use. A good savings is no savings for items you don’t or won’t use. Have a shopping list and stick to it. Remember, a coupon used just to save money equates to impulse buying and wasteful spending.
Clip just the coupons you’ll use. Also, coupons left intact on full-page sheets are easy to organize. Be careful with “brand commitment” you might now have. Brand loyalty can become contrarian to money-saving, so make wise decisions about brand loyalty.
Another way to see brand loyalty is to admit that some brands favored for personal reasons. While extreme couponers may suggest that you never pay full retail for anything, you can ignore this thinking. I suggest that you not allow couponing to rule your life or force substituting a brand that you don’t like at all for one you really do prefer.
Try to use coupons on double and triple days. Also, use coupons when they apply to cut-rate sale items, and for really good savings look for stackable coupons. These are manufacturer and store coupons paired together. By all means, find a coupon for any big-ticket buy.
Getting the best deals may mean shopping more than one supermarket, big retailer, or other store. The rule is to follow sales wherever they may happen. Don’t lose sight of your goal, which is total cash saving.
Everything has its jargon, and couponing is no different. Understanding the coupon language will make a noticeable difference in money savings. Below are some common acronyms used in couponing, and the list is endless. Also, the hotcouponworld.com site is a good source for acronyms.
- OYNO – On Your Next Order
- MIR – Mail-in Rebate
- BOGO – Buy One Get One
- AR – After Rebate (as in the price after you figure in the rebate savings).
- CO – Cents Off Coupon
Couponing is cash. It’s cash you don’t take out of your pocket or checking account when spending on necessities. The secret to couponing is to find your best method and use it to save cash every week.