September is National Coupon Month, so I’d be remiss to let the month go by without having a little 101, and more importantly talking about the latest trends to help you save.
By the Numbers
There has certainly been a resurgence in coupon usage. You stand in line behind folks using them in the store, there’s TLC’s Extreme Couponing, and numbers to prove it.
According to CNN Money, there has been a 28% rise in coupon usage since 2008, 41% of shoppers say they use coupons on most grocery trips, and get this, 43% of the heaviest coupon users come from households making $70,000 or more.
Where to find coupons:
- Sunday Newspaper–There are typically two inserts in your Sunday paper, one is SmartSource, the other is Red Plum. Once a month, Proctor and Gamble has an insert with coupons for its products.
- Magazines–Mags are often overlooked for coupons, but they can be a great source. All You contains hundreds of coupons in its monthly publication. You can also find them in others magazines like Red Book, Good Housekeeping and Better Homes and Gardens.
- Online–There are several sites where you can print coupons. They include: Coupons.com ; Smartsource.com; Redplum.com; Couponnetwork.com to name a few. Manufacturers themselves also manage websites with coupons you can print. Take a look at the products you buy most often and check out their websites to see if there are printables. You can also follow blogs that provide links to printable coupons. The good thing about these blogs is they also match up sales with coupons, so they do the hard work for you!
- Social Media–Facebook is a great place to find coupons. In most cases, all you have to do is “like” the company, or sometimes watch a video and then print a coupon.
- On your smart phone–One of the latest trends in couponing are coupons that can be loaded onto your mobile phone. Many of them are associated with grocery or drug store savings cars. Savings Star and Cell Fire offer such coupons.
How to Get Organized:
Once you begin collecting coupons, it’s imperative to organize them. Otherwise, you won’t use them, or won’t know where to find them. Many couponers use the “binder” method. They clip coupons and organize them by category, and place them in a three-ring binder.
I keep the coupon inserts whole, and simply label them by date and then clip what I need based on my list. I take a smaller, coupon organizer/pouch to the grocery store.
How to use coupons:
The key is to match a sale with the coupon to get the biggest bang for you buck. For example, let’s say your favorite pasta sauce is on sale for “buy one, get one” at your grocer. If the pasta breaks down to $1.50 each and you have a manufacturer coupon for $1 off two, you’ll get each jar of sauce for $1.00. But, guess what, it gets even better! If your store has a coupon for the same product, you can use that too, making your discount even deeper, that’s called “stacking”.
I mentioned earlier that there are websites and blogs that will do the work for you, here are some that I follow.
The Grocery Game (this is a paid site, but sometimes there’s an offer for free trials)
Know Your Store’s Policy
Most major grocers now have coupon policies in writing. They existed before, but as coupon redemption grew, many of the stores changed policies recently to combat problems and even theft or unethical behavior. If you aren’t sure, go to customer service and ask for a copy of the policy and keep it with you in your binder or pouch. This will help when a new cashier is unfamiliar. Many policies address whether customers can use competitor coupons, if the store doubles coupons, as well as how many coupons can be used in one transaction.
Going Beyond the Grocery Store
Clipping coupons doesn’t just save at the grocery store. Many couponers use them at drug stores to buy personal care products and food. Check with your drug store to see if they have a rewards program you can join. Restaurants and retailers offer coupons and promotional codes as well. Also, many stores offer “insider” deals through texts and emails delivered to your inbox.
Coupon booklets are often sold as school fundraisers, plus there are those that come in the mail. If you keep these in mind, you’ll rarely pay retail for anything!