Coupons are a great way to save money — in fact, diligent coupon clippers can save a thousand dollars or more each year. Even so, many people refuse to use them. Whether they can’t figure out where to find great coupons, or they don’t understand how to get the most out of the ones they do find, refusing to use coupons leaves a lot of savings on the table over time.
With that in mind, here are several tips and tricks that will help you use them as effectively as possible:
Focus on the goal
Sometimes people are so addicted to coupons that they buy things they don’t need. Remember, the goal here is to save money, not spend it; just because you have a coupon for a particular product doesn’t mean you have to use it.
Beware of name brands
There are plenty of coupons out there for branded products. In many cases though, even with a coupon, name brands are still more expensive than the generic or store brand of similar ingredients — which is why it’s a good idea to always compare prices among similar products and stores, even when using coupons.
Don’t let taxes eat your savings
For some, county taxes are a minor factor of their daily life. However, because tax rates can differ significantly from one county to the next, it often makes more sense to use your coupons at stores in neighboring counties with lower tax rates in order to increase your savings.
Ask if they’ll honor competitor coupons
Most people assume a store coupon can only be used at the store that issued it. However, some competitors honor coupons from other stores. You just have to ask. What do you have to lose? It might just save you time, effort, and money!
Don’t overdo it
Keeping too many coupons usually leads to disorganization and lack of use because it’s time-consuming to search through the clutter when it’s time to head to the store. So only clip coupons that you’re sure you’ll use.
Coupon gold is everywhere
Yes, the Internet can be a great source of coupons, but don’t forget to keep your eyes open when reading the paper, checking the mail, or flipping through magazines. It may be the 21st century, but coupons from the Sunday paper or a coupon packet that came in the mail still work just as well as the ones printed from the Internet.
Expiration dates aren’t sacrosanct
Just because a coupon has expired doesn’t mean you can’t try to use it — especially at stores or restaurants that don’t scan their coupons.
Watch for minimum purchase restrictions
Have you ever tried to use a 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? The only way to avoid that embarrassment is to always read the fine print before you try using it.
Fight the system
While restrictions can be annoying, there are often ways around them. For example, if there’s a minimum purchase price on coupons at the grocery store, consider stocking up on items that are either on sale, or will keep for a while; tissue, toilet paper, and toothpaste are perfect for this.
Photo Credit: rose 3694