7. Know that the week the coupon appears in the paper is not likely to be the week that the item is on sale at the store. This is because coupons are usually the first wave of promotion, designed to entice you to buy the item at full price. Later, the item will go on sale as part of the second wave of promotion. If the coupon is still valid, that’s your time to buy. However, many manufacturers have figured out that people know this and have started issuing coupons with shorter times to expiration. Buy when you feel comfortable with the price, but if you can hold out you might get a better price later.
8. Know where to get coupons and when they appear. The Sunday paper is the most obvious source for coupons. However if it is a week with a holiday, like Christmas or Memorial Day, there will not be any coupons in the paper or, if there are, they will be sparse. If you buy papers off the rack, don’t waste your money on those weeks. Other coupon sources include email offers that you sign up to receive, in store displays or coupon machines, store websites, flyers you receive in the mail, coupon exchanges, and web sites where you can print coupons. (Just make sure your store takes coupons printed from the Internet; some don’t due to fraud.) There are many more coupons available to you than just those in the paper.
9. Clip coupons only for those items/brands you’re sure to use or willing to try at the right price. Otherwise, you’ll have a lot of unnecessary coupons cluttering up your space and tempting you to buy stuff you wouldn’t normally buy.
10. Make a shopping list and match up coupons. Take the time to make a list and match up the items and coupons before you leave home. This will save you time in the store as you won’t have to search through your coupons when you stop for each item. You can just whip out the coupon and put it with your order. Making a list also cuts down on impulse purchases.
11. Know your prices and do the math. To make coupons work for you, you have to know your prices and know when something is a good deal. If you can choose store brands, those are often cheaper than the national brands, even with coupons. However, if the national brand is on sale and you have a coupon, you may get a better deal. If your store doubles or triples coupons, that adds to the confusion. If you’re not good at math, it helps to carry a small calculator so you can figure out exactly which item is the best deal.
12. Evaluate what you buy and know which coupons will be of value to you. I frequently hear people say that they don’t use coupons because they don’t buy prepackaged foods, which is what many coupons are for. That’s fine, but there are also coupons for toiletries, cleaning products, pet items, juices, baking products, and many other things. You may not buy many prepackaged foods, but there are coupons out there that will be of use to you. You don’t have to clip every coupon in the paper; just know what you buy in all areas of your life and look for coupons that match your preferences.
I spend very little time on my coupons (about twenty minutes each Sunday to clip, sort and weed coupons, ten minutes each Wednesday to go through the store flyers and add items to my list, and about half an hour to make my list and match the coupons to my list—so about an hour per week) and my savings average in the $50/week range. To me $50 per hour is well worth my time. Your savings may vary depending on where you shop and what you buy, but understanding how to get the most out of coupons is the first step to success.Rebate Fanatic. Saving you money every time you shop online! Sign Up and Start Saving Today