10 Money Saving Tips to Get the Most From Coupons

Coupons can save you hundreds of dollars each year, if not more. So why is it that so many people choose not to use them? Maybe it’s that they don’t consider them worth the trouble, or have had bad experiences with using coupons in the past. It could be that people just don’t know where to look to find good coupons, or they don’t understand how to get the most out of the coupons they do find.

Whatever the reason, not using coupons or using them inefficiently can cost you a lot of money over the course of time, so here are ten hints and tips that can enable you to use them as effectively as possible:

1. Don’t lose sight of the goal
Just because you have a coupon for a particular product doesn’t mean you have to use it. Remember, the goal is to save, not to spend. Sometimes people are so caught up in coupon use that they buy things they don’t need just to use the coupon and end up spending money on products they don’t need or won’t use.

2. Beware of name brands
You’ll find plenty of coupons out there for discounts on branded products. You’ll quickly find that in many cases though, even with a coupon, name brands are still more expensive than the generic or store brand of similar ingredients. However, you can also find coupons to name brand stores. It’s a good idea to compare prices among similar products and stores even when using coupons.

3. Coupons vs. taxes
For some, county taxes are a minor factor of their daily life. However, county tax rates can be in the double figures where you live but just several miles away it could be significantly lower. In a situation such as this, it makes more sense to use your coupons (especially large purchase or storewide coupons) at stores in the neighboring county in order to increase your savings.

4. Try asking
Many of us assume that if we have a store coupon, we can only use it at that particular store. However, competitors might be willing to honor that coupon if you ask. Rather than driving across town to use your coupons, ask if a closer store will honor them. If they do, it can save you time, effort, and money.

5. Don’t overdo
Having too many coupons can lead to disorganization and eventual lack of use because it’s too time consuming to search through the clutter when it’s time to head to the store. Try only to clip coupons you’re sure you’ll use in order to keep you coupon pile a reasonable size and easy to use.

6. Oldies but goodies
In this modern, high-tech age, the old ways are still viable options when it comes to saving money. A coupon from the Sunday paper or out of a coupon packet in the mail can work just as well as one printed from the Internet. While the Internet can be a great source of coupons, keep your eye open when reading the paper, checking the mail, or flipping through magazines. You never know what you’ll stumble upon.

7. Expiration dates
Just because a coupon has expired doesn’t mean you can’t try to use it. Especially at restaurants or stores that don’t scan their coupons, you might be able to slip one by the accepting service person if they aren’t paying attention.

8. Minimum purchase restriction
Watch out for this one because I bet it has happened to you when trying to use a coupon. You get in line at the store or sit down at a restaurant, excited to use your buy one get one free coupon, only to have the cashier or server notify you that you haven’t met the minimum purchase price to validate the coupon. This is the point when you mentally kick yourself and swear you’ll never make this mistake again.

9. Payment method restriction
My wife and I have a credit card through a large discount store. When we hit a certain point level, we receive a coupon for a 10% store discount — that is if we pay for our purchases with that same store credit card. We can’t pay with gift cards, cash, check, or other credit cards. However, as long as we pay off the balance on the card immediately, using the coupon works in our favor.

10. Fight the system
While restrictions can be troublesome, sometimes there are ways around them. If there is a minimum purchase price on coupons at the grocery store, consider stocking up on items that are on sale, will keep for a while, and that you know you’ll use like tissue, toilet paper, toothpaste, etc.

About the author
Kris is a freelance writer for a credit card comparison website specializing in 0-balance transfer credit cards that help consumers save money by paying less interest.

Photo Credit: rose 3694



Comments

  1. 3

    says

    #1 I’ve fallen for many times, unfortunately.

    #2 is a killer for me, especially when it comes to Costco. I have to be careful to compare the overall cost vs. generics, which they make super-hard because they rarely publish the price on the coupon (only how much “off” you get).

    #3 kind of peeked my interest–I have never heard of county taxes. I guess I haven’t lived in too many places in my life, but I’ll have to look at that more closely.

    #6 is important, especially because it costs money to print coupons from the Internet, negating a good chunk of your savings. I guess the case can be made, though, that the Sunday paper costs money, too.

    #9 I’ve seen before with Kohl’s, the large clothes retailer, and actually the only store credit card I own, for that very reason.

    Awesome post!

    • 4

      says

      Great point on #6, Wojo! That would be an interesting experiment to see just how much ink is used printing a coupon (and the resulting costs – ink AND paper too!).

      As for #3, as an example, shoppers in Los Angeles County pay a higher overall sales tax rate (9.75%) than shoppers elsewhere – the sales taxes in the four neighboring counties are: 8.25% (Ventura and Kern); 8.75% (Orange and San Bernardino). So you can save 1.5% (or maybe more) just by buying stuff on the other side of the county line. On top of that, some cities also add their OWN sales tax on top of the county levies.

  2. 5

    says

    Excellent point on #2. I find store brands to often be cheaper than the name brands, even with a coupon. Unless the name brand is on sale. Another idea is to compare the unit prices, which really shows how much bang you’re getting for your buck.

  3. 6

    says

    I did find one instance so far where the brand plus coupon came out to be cheaper than the generic. It happens with a coupon for Carnation milk vs. Great Value milk at Walmart. I was given the coupons for free by a friend so I count that as a great deal. Sadly, I have not seen any more of those coupons since then.

  4. 7

    says

    In answer to the question: “So why is it that so many people choose not to use them?”–I’ll take a stab at it…

    I think it’s because while we talk a good game on saving money, many of us are obsessed with convenience even more. Convenience is largely about not being uncomfortable, and maybe the idea of spending time cutting, organizing and using coupons clashes with that idea.

    My wife and I use coupons all the time. It is a job in inself that my wife does in her spare time, but it saves us 100s every year. And while we think mostly of grocery coupons, there are great ones for restaurant and entertainment purposes too.

  5. 11

    says

    Very nice post. I simply stumbled upon your blog and wished to say that I’ve truly enjoyed surfing around your blog posts. After all I will be subscribing on your feed and I hope you write once more very soon!

  6. 12

    Taddy says

    “7. Expiration dates
    Just because a coupon has expired doesn’t mean you can’t try to use it. Especially at restaurants or stores that don’t scan their coupons, you might be able to slip one by the accepting service person if they aren’t paying attention.”

    I would strongly discourage people from doing this cause at the end of the day, whoever is your service person can get in trouble for that. And if it happens enough it can get them fired. I have only had that happen 4 times, so I throughly check each coupon that I receive.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>