[This is a guest post from Tim at Faith and Finance, about how to save money with coupons. He and his wife are coupon ninjas and recently wrote an eBook called How To Coupon.]
“That’ll be $9.47,” the cashier said as he totaled all our items. It’s always hard to hold back my excitement when I hear a cashier tell say that our total is less than ten bucks, especially when we have three full bags of items worth over $80! Sometimes we’ll literally hear people behind us whisper in disbelief at how low the total is. We try not to make a big deal of it, so when people ask, “how did you do that,” we smile and say, “we just used the right coupons.”
Ok, that’s not entirely true (well, the saving part is, but there’s a little more to the method). You can’t just walk into a store and expect to save 80% on everyday items like deodorant, razors, and toothpaste because you’re holding a crisp coupon in your hand. While couponing isn’t rocket science, it does take some planning and a little knowhow.
You’ve probably seen a few examples of Khaleef and Sherrian’s shopping trips on this blog. They understand how to ‘stack’ coupons and use store rewards for their benefit, which is how they can get items at a steep discount, and sometimes even free!
How To Save Money With Coupons
If you’ve been telling yourself, “man, I should start couponing” there’s no better time than now. It may seem like there’s a lot to learn, but don’t feel overwhelmed about it. We’re going to outline the basics here, but if you want an even more thorough explanation of how our family (and Khaleef’s) saves thousands a year with coupons, take a look at our thorough eBook How to Coupon.
1. Get Organized
This may seem like a no brainer, but it’s the key to saving the most money through couponing. Create a coupon binder and use baseball card sleeves to organize your coupons by categories like frozen foods, drinks, shampoo, etc. (The eBook has free dividers for you to print out).
As you find deals online, you can quickly reference your binder to see if you have any applicable coupons. If not, you can ignore the deal and move on to the next one.
2. Set Aside Time
The most time consuming part of couponing is cutting and sorting them. We spend about 2-3 hours a week if we have a bunch of newspapers to pull coupons from.
The bright side is that once you have your coupons organized and your shopping list made up based on your coupons, you can easily get through the aisles of your favorite store very quickly.
3. Follow the Deals Online
There are a few tricks to finding the best deals. Coupon blogs will actually highlight the best deals for the coming weeks. Subscribe to blogs like The Krazy Coupon Lady, I Heart Wags, and I Heart CVS to get a preview of the store deals as well as tips on how you can use your coupons to maximize your purchase.
[Khaleef’s note: Another way to save money with coupons is by using our free coupon database]
4. Stock Up
A lot of people will quickly use the excuse: “I don’t need 12 bottles of ketchup, so couponing doesn’t make any sense to me.” I agree. Unless you’re opening a restaurant, there’s no good reason why you need to rush to the store to buy that much ketchup!
It does make sense, however, to stock up on nonperishable items that you go through often. For example, when we find a deal on toothpaste that makes the total cost around $0.25, you bet we’ll stock up on 4-6 tubes. We usually try to get enough to last about three months because that’s generally the sales cycle you’ll find for most deals.
Hopefully you’ve gathered a few helpful tips and found some inspiration to start your journey to save hundreds, if not thousands of dollars each year with coupons.
Do you try to use coupons when you go to the store? If not, what are your reservations about using coupons? Do you think it’s a waste of time?
photo by dmdonahoo