Looking to stretch your spending and make more of your budget in 2013? Coupons can make a huge difference, and you can use them to save big without being one of those crazy coupon people on TV. If you’re thinking about starting to use coupons or looking for ways to stretch your dollars, here’s a few tips to get you started.
1. Start Small
If you’re wanting to use coupons to save money, remember that you don’t have to use them on EVERYTHING. Start out small and just use them on a few purchases and items. As you get more comfortable with using them, you’ll see more and more opportunities to use coupons to save on additional items and at additional stores.
2. Think Outside the Grocery Bag
While you may know you can use coupons to save on cereal, milk and other grocery items, have you used them on retail purchases like clothing or housewares? Coupons aren’t just for groceries anymore and you’d be surprised at what you can save if you do some quick searches for what’s available. For example, JCP has coupons for clothing, home décor, jewelry, beauty and more.
Don’t forget about repair, automotive, dry cleaning and other services either. I have a coupon I’m saving for 10% off our next plumbing repair.
3. Create a System That Works for You
Everyone is organized differently. While there are some common ways to organize coupons like the insert method or the binder method, if you’re just getting started, truthfully do what works for you. A small plastic coupon organizer like what you can buy at an office supply store is probably enough to get you started, or if something else works – go with it instead.
4. Use Your Smart Phone
If you’ve got a smart phone, you’ve got a powerful tool for couponing. Not only can you use it to get and redeem digital coupons from grocery stores, manufacturers and retailers, but I often use mine to sign up for spur of the moment discounts. Getting ready to head into a restaurant and don’t have a coupon? Look them up on your phone and search for available coupons. Most retailers and restaurants will accept these, and it’s worth a few extra seconds for the savings. This weekend I saved over $10 at a restaurant and another $34 at a clothing retailer by joining their e-clubs from my phone just before walking in the door.
5. Go Printable
The coupons in the Sunday inserts are great, but not all areas get the same coupons. In order to get the coupons you need without all the extra ads, I usually recommend newbies stick primarily with printable coupons. This can be a great way to get the coupons just for the products your family will use. Search online or follow your favorite blogs (like this one of course!) for updates and releases of some of the latest coupons.
6. Share Your Info
I used to be a little paranoid when stores asked for my address or cell phone. But you know what? When you tell stores how to find you, they send you coupons and extra savings! I have several retailers who even send $10 off $10 purchases which means totally FREE stuff. If you don’t want the promotional e-mails clogging your main inbox, create a separate e-mail account just for offers and that way you know where to find all the great coupons and discount codes when you need them.
7. Get Rewarded
If you’re not a member of reward programs, you’re missing out! I’m not talking about credit card rewards (although those are great too!) but ways to earn freebies and cash from things like collecting codes, surfing the web and more. We’ve gotten free bikes and toys for the kids, gift cards for stores and restaurants, event tickets, free food and more. Be sure when ordering online you’re using a cash back site and that you’re searching the web through a reward program too.Those little points can add up to big rewards!
8. Stack it Up
Once you get a little coupon experience under your belt, one advanced move you’ll want to try is what’s called stacking. Did you know many retailers will accept BOTH store and manufacturer coupons on the same items? This is a great way to maximize savings and to get serious savings and freebies. Watch coupon blogs like this one for what to stack where and you’ll be amazed by the results!
Good luck and happy shopping! Watch for more beginning coupon tips coming soon!