When I decided that I was going to start saving money by using coupons, I began by focusing my efforts on using grocery store coupons.
Well, here we are many years later, saving more money than I ever thought possible because I now know that I can use coupons to save money on EVERYTHING that I purchase!
Read on to see how much money I’ve saved using coupons.
I had been using coupons for several years but was never sure of how much I was saving. I began tracking my savings in January two years ago and was pleasantly surprised to realize that I had saved $10,743.17 which averages out to be $895.26 per month.
I decided to track it again last year and was able to save $15,099.81 which averaged out to $1258.32 per month.
Our family saves money on groceries, furniture, clothing, toys, personal care products, household goods, online shopping, auto care and at restaurants by using coupons. If we are going out to eat, we choose a restaurant based on which coupons we have. If we are purchasing furniture or big-ticket items, we always check online for coupons first.
Related: 5 Ways to Save Money When Eating Out
Before going to the grocery store, I write a list of what I need and pull the coupons out of my coupon organizer. Before purchasing clothes, I search for coupons from my favorite retailers and bring them with me. It is very rare that we will spend any money and not use a coupon.
This is a rather long post, so kick up your feet, grab a cup of coffee, tea or the beverage of your choice and stay a while. Hopefully, this post will inspire you to use coupons and save a bunch of money like I did.
Most people want to know where they can find coupons. There are many sources out there for you to obtain coupons. You can start with the Sunday edition of your local paper. The internet is full of websites that offer printable coupons (SmartSource, RedPlum, Coupons.com, and CouponMom).
You can also go to your favorite store and brand’s website and sign up to receive coupons and newsletters to your e-mail or loyalty card. You may want to set up an additional e-mail address just for coupons. You will be amazed at the number of coupons you will begin receiving! In my e-mail account, I create folders with different categories such as Clothing Coupons, Restaurant Coupons, Toy Coupons, Auto Coupons, etc. Doing this makes it easier to find them when I need them. I print out any grocery, household and personal care coupons and put them in my coupon organizer.
Be sure to check inside packages and magazines for coupons. You will sometimes find coupons directly on the item in the store or in the “blinkies” that hang on store shelves. Another source for coupons would be at the register-most times, coupons print out with your receipt (they are called Catalinas). Be sure to look at them! I have gotten many free products with Catalinas.
A lot of companies and stores now offer an option to text coupons to your cell phone and there are also mobile apps that offer coupons for you to use while you are out and about. Honestly, these are my favorite kinds of coupons and they save me the most money. Two of my favorite mobile apps are GeoQpons and The Coupons App. Both apps are free and available for Apple, Android, and Blackberry devices.
Before you head out to the store to use your coupons, there are a few things you should be aware of:
Always remember that the store is not losing money when you use your coupon. The store gets reimbursed from the manufacturer for the value of the coupon. If it is a store coupon, they have issued it to you because they want your business. If you use a 20% off store coupon, that store is very happy with the 80% they are getting from you. Do not feel guilty-you are not doing anything wrong by using coupons.
- Call the store to find out if they accept internet coupons. Some stores may have restrictions on the type of internet coupons they will accept. This usually applies to grocery stores.
- Find out if the store doubles coupons. Example: if you present them with a .50 coupon, they will double it and give you $1 off. Some stores double coupons every day, some only on certain days and some not at all. Try to shop at stores that double (some even triple!) coupons.
- Find out if there is a limit to how many coupons can be doubled. Example: I purchase 4 items that are the same and give them four identical .50 coupons. How many will they double? Some stores will only double one coupon and give you face value for the other three. Other stores may double more or all of them.
- Ask if the store accepts competitor coupons. More stores are now accepting coupons from competitors so it doesn’t hurt to ask. Using competitor’s coupons can save you the frustration of going from store to store to use your coupons.
- Find out if the store does a “price match”. This means that the store will match the sale price that another store is offering. As long as you bring in the circular showing the item, sale price and date, many stores will honor the sale price. They do this so you can spend your dollars at their store and not their competitors. Using this strategy will also free you from having to drive to multiple stores to get the sale prices.
- Ask if the store allows you to combine a store coupon and a manufacturing coupon on one item. This is a biggie! Many stores now combine store and manufacturing coupons and that can usually get you items very cheap or free. An example of how this may work: Jergens Lotion is on sale for $2.50. You have a store coupon (the coupon will say the store name at the top) for $1 and a manufacturer’s coupon (says “manufacturer’s coupon” at the top) for $1. You would only pay .50 for the bottle of lotion if that store combines coupons. Using this strategy is how I get most of my personal care products such as lotion, toothpaste, toothbrushes, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, shave gels, feminine care, etc for free or very, very inexpensively.
- Find out if the store allows for overage. This means they will give you the difference if the coupon value is larger than the cost of the item. Example: You purchase a pack of gum on sale for .50 and you give them a coupon for $1. The store will apply the .50 credit onto your order or give the .50 back to you. This can help to reduce your shopping bill if you have several coupons that can give you overage.
- When you see BOGO (Buy One Get One Free) offers, ask the store if you have to purchase both items or just one to get the sale price. Example: A box of cereal is priced at $2.50 with a BOGO tag. If you are required to purchase 2, you pay $2.50 for 2 boxes of cereal. If you are allowed to only purchase one item and still receive the sale price, you would only get one box and pay $1.25. Be careful with this one, if the store requires you to purchase both items for the BOGO price and you only purchase one, you will be charged $2.50 for one box of cereal. Make sure you are aware of the store’s policy regarding BOGO deals.
- This one is a little tricky: Find out if the store will accept 2 BOGO coupons on two items. Example: You have 2 coupons for deodorant that state “Buy One Get One Free”. The deodorant is priced at $2. You purchase 2 deodorants. If you use one of the BOGO coupons, you will pay $2 for 2 deodorants because you are buying one and getting one free. However, if the store allows 2 BOGO coupons on the same items, you get both for free. With one coupon you are buying one and getting the other free. When you give them the second coupon you are getting the one you previously paid for free. Be sure to check with the store regarding this policy. It stumps a lot of people…even the cashiers!
- Here’s another BOGO scenario-Ask if the store will accept a BOGO coupon when they are having a BOGO sale. Example: The store has shampoo on sale for BOGO and you have a BOGO coupon for the same shampoo. You purchase 2 shampoos and use your BOGO coupon. You will get both shampoos for free. Many stores do have this policy, so be sure to ask.
- Finally, check to see if the store offers rain checks if the item is sold out. This will allow you to come back at a later date and still receive the sale price.
Please be aware that stores can change policies at anytime, so be sure to check in with them periodically.
I know this is a lot to take in at once, but once you get the hang of using coupons and know which policies exist at each store, you will begin to see your savings soar!
If you have any questions, feel free to ask!
Subscribe to receive more money-saving tips. You’ll receive a FREE printable when you sign up!