I come from a long line of frugal women. After watching the television show Extreme Couponing last summer, I decided that I too wanted to learn how to save money using coupons. When we did our monthly shopping, my husband and I would use coupons when available or convenient. However, I had never really gone out of my way to utilize this one of many possible money saving methods. After watching Extreme Couponing, however, I decided that I too would start actively saving money with coupons. As a child, I would always accompany my mother on her monthly shopping trips. My special job on the car ride to the store was to clean out her coupon folder. I would pull the coupons that were expired and figure out which coupons we could use that month. My mother’s advice on saving money was to use coupons when possible. So, my current quest to learn how to save money using coupons was a no-brainer.
Unlike some of the shoppers on Extreme Couponing, my money saving methods are less extreme. First, I buy only products I need and will absolutely use; just because I can buy a freezer full of ham does not mean that I should. Second, I stock up only on nonperishable items such as paper towels, kleenexes, and toiletries. Inevitably, I will get tired of some food that I bought in bulk; when I have to throw away the bad food, any savings will be negated. Third, I do not buy bulk amounts of unhealthy foods just because using coupons makes the purchase almost free. So, sorry to the shoppers on the show who bought cart loads of mustard and soda, but I am buying neither just because I can. Saving boatloads of money on unhealthy pseudo-foods is so much worse than paying a little more for actual, healthy food.
Another of my money saving methods that I discovered in my quest to learn how to save money using coupons is combining coupons with sales. I shop primarily at four stores: Walgreens, CVS, Kroger, and Walmart. I begin each shopping trip by cutting out all the coupons for products I need or will use. I then match whichever coupons I can with sales at the four stores. For example, I might combine a coupon for dish soap with a sale for dish soap at Walgreens. I then save even more money that I would have using just the coupon or just the sale price. Any time I can combine a sale with a coupon, I do. Once I bought a package of pantyliners for a whopping 9 cents because I used a coupon on a clearance price.
My next piece of advice on saving money with coupons is to use coupons valued at less than $1 at a store that doubles coupons. In my area, Kroger doubles coupons up to $1, so I use my lower value coupons at Kroger. Those pantyliners I paid 9 cents for? The clearance price was $1.09. I had a coupon for 50 cents. The coupon doubled, so I got $1 off. By combining a coupon that doubled with a sale price, I paid a measly 9 cents.
In summary, my tips for any frugal shopper who wants to learn how to save money with coupons are as follows: (1) Buy only products that you need or use, (2) Stock up only on nonperishable items, (3) Do not buy unhealthy foods just because you can for cheap, (4) Combine coupons with sales, and (5) Double coupons when you can.
What other tips do you have for saving money?
Combining Coupons and Sales: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Kraft_Coupon.jpg