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Couponing for Beginners

Jun 24, 2019

Couponing can be a valuable budgeting tool to save money on your groceries and other daily expenses. Review our guide below detailing steps you can take in order to get the most out of couponing.

Save Money on your Groceries

Gather Your Supplies

As a beginner, it’s important for you to gather all of the supplies you’ll need in order to coupon efficiently. In most cases, you’ll need access to a computer, a printer, an index card box with dividers and labels, as well as a local newspaper or other mail subscriptions that contain coupons.

Designate a Specific Time to Coupon

Once you gather all of your supplies, you should determine a time to begin couponing. Consider dedicating one to two hours every week to search for coupons online, in-store, or through your local newspaper. To make things a bit easier, it can help to choose a specific day, such as Sundays, or a weekday evening to dedicate to couponing. This schedule can help you stay on track and consistent. However, couponing is a trial and error process. As you learn what works best for you, you may find that you need less than an hour to commit to couponing each week.

Find Your Coupons

Depending on where you live, coupons can appear in five main places: store coupon walls/bulletin boards, local newspapers/circulars, store flyers, and coupon websites and apps such as RetailMeNot and Honey. You should always check your local newspapers and store bulletin boards for coupons before you begin your grocery shopping to ensure that you‘re taking advantage of potential savings.
To start cashing in on online coupons, download coupon apps and check coupon websites regularly. RetailMeNot updates their website daily, offering customers endless deals.

Get Organized

The key to successful couponing is organization. To start, use an index card box with dividers to store your coupons until you’re ready to use them. Once you obtain dividers, make sure you label them by use (i.e. groceries, toiletries, clothing) or by store, so they’re easy to find later

Consider Cash Back

Keep in mind that coupons aren’t the only way to save money – consider signing up for a free cash back website, such as Ebates or Swagbucks, to get money back from your online shopping purchases at Amazon, Macy’s, and more. When you sign up for an account, you’ll be prompted to click the link from the cash back site to your favorite retailers. This allows you to shop as you usually do while earning cash back on your purchases.

With the use of a debit card, some credit unions and banks have cash back rewards and offers built into their apps. Check with your institution to see if this is something you can take advantage of. For example, PFCU offers their members a Kasasa Cash Back free checking account that pays you for doing the banking basics, such as regularly using your debit card. Members receive 2% cash back on debit card purchases up to $8 per month. There’s no minimum balance to earn rewards and there’s no monthly maintenance fee.

Begin to Learn the System and Understand Overage

There are terms, phrases, and methods you’ll begin to learn and understand when you coupon more regularly. For example, “overage” is when the worth of your coupon exceeds the cost of the product. When this happens, you’re either owed money in cash from the retailer or you will receive credit towards your current bill. This typically happens when:

  1. Combining a manufacturer coupon and a store coupon. For example, maybe a brand you like has a manufacturer coupon for one of their products and your local grocery store also has its own coupon. When applied together, this gives you double the savings.
  2. Using a coupon on an item that’s been reduced or on clearance. You have a brand’s manufacturer coupon for $3 off one of their products. You then find that same product reduced by 50% for quick-sale at the store, making it $1. When you apply your $3 coupon to the reduced $1 product, you now have $2 in overage.
  3. Price-matching an item at another store. Let’s say that Walmart is selling floss for 99 cents per box. You price-match at another store and apply a coupon offer of “buy 3 boxes of floss, get $4 off.” Since the boxes are now only 99 cents each (because of your price-matching), when you buy 3 boxes you’ll have an overage of $1.

Couponing can save money and in some cases, even earn money! However, it’s important to keep in mind that coupons are a way of advertising and can potentially drive you to impulsively buy items you wouldn’t ordinarily need. When using a coupon, make sure it’s something you’d normally buy or need. By reviewing this guide, you’ll be on the road to successful saving.

Erin Ellis

Erin Ellis
Accredited Financial Counselor ®
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