Posted by: H | September 23, 2010

The Art of Couponing

I used to think coupons were dead…With almost every place having their own savings card these days, I thought they had gone out of style. Boy was I wrong! Coupons are fantastic and can save you TONS!

You know the junk mail you get sometimes that claims it’s “from your neighbor” or addressed to “smart shopper”? Don’t throw those out. Instead, open them, go through them and keep any of the ones you might need. Sometimes there are really good deals. Our favorites are the “buy 1 dinner, get 1 free” coupons for local restaurants.

There is one brilliant, albeit time-consuming strategy that I learned from our friend, Basha. The basic concept is to stack coupons and match them against store sales. For example, if Safeway has a buy one, get one free sale, and you have a buy one get one free coupon for the same product, you can get that item for free. Remember the newspaper? The inserts in the Sunday paper are the best place to find retail coupons. You can find some printable manufacturer coupons online as well. Just keep in mind that not every store accepts manufacturer coupons, but most major chains will take them.

Another good source for finding good coupons are mailing lists. If any stores or restaurants that you frequent have email lists, I recommend signing up. Sometimes they’ll send you coupons that you wouldn’t find otherwise. A lot of them will send you a coupon just for signing up. Whenever we are going somewhere to buy something, I actually check the retailer’s website first and see if they have any printable coupons on the site or if they’ll send me one from their mailing list. I use a separate email account for this so I don’t have too much clutter in my real email account.

Need inspiration? Check out this clip from Good Morning America about a mom who has mastered the art of couponing. She feeds her family of 6 on $4 a week:

Kathy Spencer (the woman in the video) also has her very own website, which is an incredible resource for learning about this strategy: How to Shop for Free.

For more inspiration, Basha has written fairly extensively on the subject on her blog, and I recommend reading her posts:
My New Obsession
Why Bother to Mail in Rebates?
How I Made $31.40 by Shopping Today

To find printable coupons online, simply search “coupons” in Google. There are tons of sites, not one really being superior to another. There are also ENDLESS Facebook groups, twitters, and RSS feeds you can follow where people share their coupon and sales findings. I recommend browsing a bunch and adding your favorites.

So where should you store all these coupons? I used to keep them in my wallet, but once I got better about saving and using coupons, my wallet became very thick and it seemed so unnatural! So we started keeping them in a kitchen drawer. Many people store them in a shoebox. Once a month or so, I’ll go through our stash and throw away any of the ones that have expired.

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