Frugality is like a muscle. You have to keep using it in order for it to work when you need it. Couponing is a great way of practicing frugality. It helps you save money without having to make major sacrifices when it comes to what you buy. Whether you are only starting to look into couponing or already a seasoned couponer, chances are you are aware of the need to have a strategy for couponing. Luckily for you, others have walked this path before and they are eager to share what they have learned. These are the top 5 secrets to successful couponing from one couponer to another.
Collecting your coupons
Collecting your coupons seems pretty straightforward at first glance. You pick up your newspaper and cut up the coupons inside it. However, you can very easily go the extra mile and get even better deals for yourself. It’s best if you don’t settle for one newspaper. Pick a couple that carry quality ads and get weekend subscriptions. Your local shop may even let you have the yesterday’s papers they haven’t sold for free. Get a variety of ads and even multiple copies if you can get them for free. Another way to go about it is to ask your friends or colleagues to pass on the inserts they get if they won’t use them.
Finally, one of the secrets to successful couponing is not to forgo the internet. There are plenty of websites where you can find great deals on printable coupons. Many of them offer newsletters so they’ll regularly be delivered to your inbox. Furthermore, you will also come across promo codes that you can use when shopping online. These can work as well as any coupon you cut out.
Buying in bulk
Buying what you can in bulk goes hand in hand with couponing. As the saying goes, strike while the iron is hot. Items don’t go on sale every day, so it is a good strategy to stock up on certain things when the deals align. Besides allowing you to save money, buying in bulk is actually environmentally friendly as well. There is less packaging so there is also less waste.
Be careful, though, as these deals can often be very enticing, making you end up with a lot of something you don’t actually use. So go for the things you usually get and use bins for organization and storage. Some of the things that are great to buy in bulk are beans and legumes, baking staples like flour and sugar, oils and nuts. If your freezer has enough space, you can also go for meat and fish as well as frozen fruits and vegetables.
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One of the reasons people often overpay for items is lack of information. Stores are very clever about framing something as a great deal even when that is simply not true. The further you go into the couponing world, the more you’ll realize recognizing these things is one of the key secrets to successful couponing.
One of the things stores do is imply that store brands are always cheaper than name brand products. This is an easy trap to fall into, but easily avoidable. All you need to do is keep track of the amount of money you pay for the products you usually buy. This doesn’t require you to note down every single price, but to simply be a more engaged customer. Another way how to start couponing successfully is not to fall for every sale sign. This is a strategy sellers use to entice you to make purchases that may seem slightly cheaper but that won’t actually help you save money.
Finally, if you are only at the start of your couponing journey, you have to learn the basic lingo to be able to find your way around. The internet will once again come to the rescue and help you learn what stackable coupons and their friends are. Here are some basic acronyms to get you started:
- OYNO – on your next order
- BOGO – buy one get one
- MIR – mail-in rebate
Having all of these coupons and knowing how to interpret them will mean nothing if you are not able to pull them out at the right time. This is why every serious couponer will stress the importance of organizing your coupons. There are several ways you can go about this. The main two are organizing by expiration date or organizing by category. Both have their pros and cons, so you can start with one and see how well it works for you. However you decide to do it, the main idea is to make it easy to find the right coupon when you come across a good deal.
Get ahead of the negativity
Couponing often gets a bad rep. People look down on it because of their own prejudice, but it could still make you feel embarrassed at the cash register through no fault of your own. Many people even give up couponing only because they don’t feel like getting dirty looks at the store. One of the prerequisites of successful couponing is getting around this issue.
Firstly, try not to do the bulk of your shopping trips during peak shopping hours. Find a couple of your favorite cashiers at the stores you frequent that you know won’t mind going through the process. Being smiley and polite will go a long way with both them and the people in line behind you. Besides staying positive, you can always turn to the people behind you and inform them that they might want to choose another cashier if they’re in a hurry.
Martha Stuart is a small business owner who blogs about different things in the area of homemaking. She loves gardening, couponing and playing an amateur chef.