Coupons can be one of the most valuable money saving tools available. Sometimes it way seem a bit overwhelming to try to alter your shopping habits in order to utilize coupons. Believe it or not, finding the right coupons and getting the most out of them can take some planning, but in doing so you could save thousands of dollars per year on your everyday purchases of groceries, clothing, shoes, electronics, school supplies, and more. Here are 10 ways that will help you get the most out of your coupons, and keep the most money in your pocket!
1. Stop buying on impulse. That’s when you end up paying full price!
Start by browsing stores to figure out what you want to buy, then let the day’s coupons and sales sway your buying decisions. Better yet, have a plan in mind of what you’re looking to purchase before you even enter the store. This especially applies to stores where prices fluctuate and coupons are readily available. Grocery stores or department stores, like Kohl’s or Macy’s, have plenty of coupons at all times. If you know what you are wanting to buy, look for coupons and deals for those items to find the best place to shop. Also avoid making purchases right before you check out. Many stores strategically place candy, snacks, magazines, and other small items right by the cash registers in hopes of convincing you to toss one into your basket at the last minute.
2. Look for as many coupons as you can before hitting the store.
Grocery coupons are a dime a dozen. They take up a large section of your Sunday newspaper, are mailed directly from the manufacturer, are emailed to your inbox, and hide in places like magazines, grocery aisles, and weekly ads. Plenty of coupon-clippers will make a copy or scan the best ones into digital copies that float around the web, too. The more coupons you can find, the more you can stack savings on top of sale items! Check your Sunday newspaper, browse DealsPlus, and get email alerts from both DealsPlus and your favorite stores.
3. Do price comparisons before you buy.
Yes, this principle even applies to groceries, not just electronics or home appliances. This may not seem like a big money-saver, but a few dollars off every trip to the store adds up to hundreds very quickly! If you have a list of things you need, check the weekly ad to see who’s got what on sale, and at the cheapest price possible. A big mistake people make is going to the store before figuring out which store will have their item on sale.
4. Stack coupons.
Check to see if you can use more than one coupon/discount in a single order. The more you stack, the bigger your savings! For instance, Kohl’s could be having an up to 80% off clearance sale, but you could stack a 30% off coupon to receive even more savings. Their coupons work on top of already discounted clearance items, and you can use more than one at a time. The total price you pay can be the difference between paying $80 for a pair of shoes, or paying $20 after stacking sale discounts and coupon codes. Or heck – pay that $80 but get 4 pairs of shoes!
5. Don’t go to the grocery store hungry or waste money on things you don’t need.
Another common mistake people make is buying items solely because it’s on sale or they have a coupon for it. If it’s something you don’t need, it is not the best way of spending money. An example of this occurs when you go to the grocery store while you’re hungry. This leads to buying more than is needed, not to mention people tend to buy more unhealthy snacks, desserts and foods when they shop hungry. Keep your mind clear and stick to the things you actually need.
6. When an item is priced at a huge discount, buy in bulk!
You don’t have to wait until you run out of something before purchasing. That’s when you end up paying full price. Is it a non-perishable item you’ll use throughout the year, like chicken stock, breakfast cereal, frozen vegetables, or toilet paper? If you find these type of products on sale, stock up with extras that you can store away. Now you avoid paying full price for items you know you’re going to end up needing eventually.
7. Know what a good deal is.
If you don’t know what a good deal is, you’re bound to keep paying more than you should. This applies to everything, from flights, hotel stays, electronics, groceries, and more. The more you comparison shop between multiple stores, review weekly ads, and keep up to date on the latest sales, the more you’ll get to know what the best prices available are. Then, if you can find a coupon to use on top of that sale price, you’re golden!
8. Make multiple purchases to maximize discounts.
Many stores allow only one coupon per order, and grocery stores usually allow one coupon per product. Other times, coupons have a limit to how many items you can buy. In fact, the best coupons often have limitations. When this happens, be strategic with how you purchase. This applies to shopping at stores like ULTA. They always have $3.50 off $10 coupons that you can use directly off your phone. You can break up your purchases into increments of $10 or so. See if the cashier will let you proceed with multiple transactions, or return to the store another time to pick up the rest of the items you need. You can also do this online, by submitting multiple orders. This way you’re getting the most out of your coupons, in this case saving 35% off every item you buy, instead of saving $3.50 off a larger purchase and shrinking your savings.
9. Pay close attention at the cash register.
Sometimes your items don’t get scanned at the price you expect. When this happens, politely ask the cashier to figure out whether you grabbed the wrong item, or the store made a mistake in pricing. In some states, price mistakes mean that you get the item for free, or you get a few extra dollars back. Review your receipt to familiarize yourself with how you spent your money, and use this information in future shopping.
10. Shop online, not just in stores.
Take it from a couponing expert – online stores can offer many more discounts than brick-and-mortar stores. They also have different sales and specials. For example, Sephora periodically has a 20% off coupon code that’s not offered in-store. Plus, they have hundreds of items that are discounted by up to 75% off, whereas almost every item in-store is full price. CVS, Walgreens, Best Buy, Walmart and Target have tons of great deals every week, with free shipping offers and online codes for extra discounts. If you don’t like your item, you can always return it in-store to avoid return shipping costs.