In the current economy, it is a safe bet that most people are looking to save money. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported an unemployment rate of over 9 percent in March of this year, with more and more jobs being cut every day. Meanwhile, costs of daily necessities like rent, mortgages, groceries, utilities, and car payments are staying constant or even rising.
Most families are looking at ways to save money by cutting out unnecessary spending and reducing consumption of utilities, but they are not as knowledgable about how to cut spending on groceries. That is pretty much a non-negotiable spending category, right? If you cannot afford better quality food, are you and your family stuck with instant noodles and canned soup? No! It is easy to save money on groceries and I will give you plenty of examples of how that is possible. It’s all in the coupons!
We need to address three very common assumptions most people have about coupons. Many people (including myself before I became an avid “couponer”) assume that clipping coupons takes too long. Secondly, quite a bit of people assume that the savings from using coupons is negligible, and not worth the effort. Lastly, since many people do not understand how coupons actually work, they assume that by using coupons they are taking money from the stores, which is completely untrue.
Clipping coupons does not have to take a lot of time. In fact, I, and many friends of mine that use coupons, spend no more than one to two hours per week clipping coupons and planning our shopping trips. That may seem like a great deal of time to you, but look at it from this perspective: it has always been my theory that there are two main commodities in this world- time and money. Everything you do costs either a lot of time, a lot of money, or some combination of both. By spending less time, you end up spending more money. This is very true if you do not take the time to use coupons and research sales. You end up spending more money by paying more for items you could have paid significantly less for if you had done some work ahead of time. And in this economy, which commodity is more precious right now?
Most coupons are commonly found in the weekly Sunday paper inserts. These “insert coupons” are put out every week of the year except the week of a major holiday like Christmas, Thanksgiving, etc. You can also find “internet printables” which are coupons that you can download and print from the internet as well as the many coupons that can be found in your local grocery stores.
So, now that you know how to find coupons, and you realize the importance of spending a little more time to save a little more money, how do save the most money? The idea is match up a coupon with a store sale. A prime example is a coupon that Huggies put out about two months ago for any Gentle Care product (diapers or wipes). The coupons were worth $5. I printed my copies of that coupon, and took them to Target where they had a pack of 184 Gentle Care baby wipes on sale for $5.49. Using my coupons, I paid $0.49 for each pack of those wipes.
Here’s another example: my local Harris Teeter had a sale a few weeks ago on White Castle microwavable hamburgers. The sale was buy one, get one free (also known as a BOGO sale). The burgers were normally $4 for a box of six. By purchasing two boxes with the sale, I was only paying $4, or $2 per box. I also added in two coupons I had for $1 off one box of White Castle, bringing my total down to only $1 per box. That’s a savings of 75 percent per box! Luckily, I had several coupons, so I ended up buying ten boxes of White Castle burgers for only $10, when normally I would have paid $40!
The trick is to know what is on sale at your local store. Most stores send out weekly flyers listing their sales. Also, most grocery stores let you sign up online to get their weekly ad emailed to you (I know for a fact that Target, Harris Teeter, and Giant Food all do this), so make sure to sign up on the mailing list if your local grocery store.
The final assumption many people make is that using coupons costs the stores money, which is only true if the store issues the coupons. This is the same as the store running a sale anyway, as the whole idea is to get customers in the store so they spend more money. Most stores do not issue their own coupons, instead, most coupons are issued directly from the manufacturer (i.e. Huggies, White Castle, Stouffers, Yoplait, etc). When you hand your manufacturers’ coupons to your cashier, the store then takes those coupons, presents them to the manufacturers, and is then reimbursed for the amount on the coupon! In my two examples about, Target was reimbursed for my $5 coupons, and Harris Teeter was reimbursed for my $1 White Castle coupons. How do I know for sure? It says so right on the coupon.
In these trying economic times, coupons can be lifesavers. By combining them with a store sale, you can save so much money and buy items you may not normally be able to afford to buy! Make sure you check your local grocery store’s coupon policy, then clip your coupons and save yourself some money!