couponing

Couponing A Better Way to Save in 2014

Couponing For RealMaybe you know, were raised by, or are a coupon lady. We all know the type. In years past, hardcore couponers curated hefty binders to house their precious double and triple savings paper coupons. Couponing was a calling, a preoccupation, a lifestyle. For these committed shoppers, the payoffs could often be unpredictable. Coupon clippers would frequently stagger home under the weight of 256 rolls of double-soft toilet paper. “I got it for buy 1 get 2 free!” they would rhapsodize as justification. I remember those days fondly. But I am happy to say that today, there is a better way.

These days you don’t need a printer or the old plastic binder that was de rigeur for coupon kings and queens of yore. Today, you can get by with just your smart phone. Modern apps do a lot of the work for you, presenting a simple image to be scanned by many retailers. Sage-One online accounting products can help you find out just how much you’re saving, but for now I’ll describe how various coupon apps saved my wife and I on our weekly grocery bill.

As budget shoppers, we try to eat well on $100 a week or less. We both downloaded several coupon apps to see the difference they could make. Yowza worked well and was easy to use. Within seconds of firing up this app, we found coupons from several grocers in our area (as well as lots of other kinds of stores as well). We saved the coupons that were relevant to the stuff we eat (peanut butter from Whole Foods, Vegetable Oil from Safeway, Tomatoes from Giant, etc). We weren’t about to drive to every grocery store in our area, but there were enough coupons related to stuff we regularly eat at our nearest grocer, so we headed there to shop.

On the drive, I was scanning the local paper for printed coupons. Using SnipSnap I was able to take pictures of these coupons on my phone. Once at the store, I didn’t have to drag along the paper coupons, or one of the aforementioned plastic binders. I was worried at first that the cashier wouldn’t be able to scan the coupons off my phone, but she had seen this before, and the discounts went smoothly.

The last app we tried was Grocery Smarts. It worked very much like Yowza, but for some reason brought in a pile of different coupons. We were able to pick up some popcorn and kombucha at steeply cut prices, all in the time it takes to fill a grocery cart.

Finally at checkout, we saved $19.84. Our total price would have been $118.16, but through app-couponing, we were able to keep it under our goal of $100. I wasn’t sure we would have been able to do it, but we were keeping track of our total mentally, as we shopped. We nailed it. Saving fifteen or twenty dollars once a week for a year is going to add up quickly. I was amazed at how little time it took to save this much. Couponing is never going to be the same, and neither will my grocery bill.


5 Coupon Hacks To Save Money

Who doesn’t love a deal?

You don’t need to be a die-hard coupon maniac to enjoy the thrill of BOGO (buy one get one). You don’t need to spend hours pouring over multiple copies of the Sunday paper to get a little rush as your grand total is reduced at checkout, either. Saving money just takes some savvy.

Here are five coupon hacks that can save you money from the comfort of your laptop or smartphone.

One thing to consider? Be careful about potential coupon fraud. It is easy to get fraudulent coupons or coupon codes online. If you don’t trust a site don’t continue, or you could open your computer or email address up to hackers. By following the official store brands and websites and using legitimate couponing websites or apps you can prevent fraud.

Get Honey

What’s sweeter than local honey? Honey the browser-based coupon-finder! That’s because Honey is a free coupon search engine that works with just a click.

Honey is a free extension that automatically searches for and applies coupon codes when you shop online. Honey works for over 100 online

stores so far, and growing. Here’s a video that shows Honey in action.

Fan & Follow

Don’t neglect to “like” or “follow” your favorite stores and brands in social media. Giving a simple “like” will put the store’s specials into your Facebook news feed. So will following the brand on Twitter. Monitor both for savings by checking in periodically, or keeping a notepad nearby to write down savings codes.

PHOTO: Flickr user MissMessieSavingStar Grocery Coupons

How would you like coupons automatically loaded onto your store loyalty cards? No cutting coupons and no need to remember to bring them with you. That’s the premise of SavingStar, a free service.

The savings here go on “behind the scenes” — you don’t get a discount at the register or see the discount on your receipt. You do, however, accrue your savings into a SavingStar account. Then you are paid via your bank account, PayPal, or Amazon gift card.

The money accumulated here can be spent at a number of online retailers or donated to your favorite nonprofit, like American Forests. If you choose the nonprofit route, you can effortlessly give to worthy causes without changing your shopping habits.

Rethink What You Really Need (Free!)

Coupons are great, but so is living with less and consuming less. One of the best coupon hacks is to focus on changing your lifestyle. Get off of as many treadmills as possible and your savings can be significant. Who says you have to live like everyone else, anyway?

Start at home. Reduce your family’s overhead costs by moving into a smaller house or getting rid of one of your vehicles. Plant a square foot garden to offset some of your food costs. Commute to work on your bike. Make your own laundry detergent and hang your laundry to dry on the line to reduce your utility costs.

These and multiple other changes do add up. Simplifying your life can also be deeply satisfying, too — and that’s worth just as much, or more, than any coupon savings.

Citations:
Featured images:

Katie McCaskey is a freelance journalist writing for Vistaprint Deals, the official website for Vistaprint coupon codes. Besides running a small business in Staunton, Virginia, Katie has covered personal finance and small business marketing topics for over 10 years.


Couponing for Beginners

Couponing for Beginners

As the economy gets tighter, many families have come to find that couponing is the only way to get what they truly need while sticking to the family budget. If you have wanted to get started using coupons but aren’t sure where to start, this quick-start guide is just for you.

Step 1: Get Your Coupons

There are many sources for great, usable coupons that will save you big. Try these for starters:

  • The Sunday Paper – Get the paper with the highest circulation for the biggest variety of coupons. If you are serious, buy one paper for each family member.
  • Friends and Family – Ask your loved ones to save any unwanted coupons for you. They will probably be happy to do so.
  • Hit the Internet – There are thousands of printable coupons on the Internet. You can find them on couponing sites or on manufacturer sites.
  • Use a Clipping Service – If there are current coupons that you could use in multiples, ordering from a clipping service could save you quite a bit in the long run.
  • Check Your Stores – Many stores have coupons available. All you have to do is ask or look around.

Step 2: Get Organized

Your organizational system will depend upon your style and preferences. Here are some possible ideas to get you started:

  • Envelopes – For beginners, a check file or a set of envelopes will suffice. As your operation grows, however, you will probably need to change your system a bit.
  • Electronic Organization – For the least amount of work, file your coupon inserts by date and then locate the ones you need through an online database of coupons.
  • Binder – One of the most effective systems for serious couponers is to use a three-ring binder with baseball card holders. Simply take your binder with you every time you shop.

Step 3: Learn Your Store’s Policies

For maximum savings, you will need to know your store’s policies on coupon redemption.

  • Loyalty Card – Many stores offer a loyalty card that offers special savings. These cards are free, so make sure to get yours.
  • Doubling or Tripling – Many stores will run double or triple coupon promotions. Find out when your store does so and shop on those days. You will also need to know the maximum double and triple amounts as well as how many coupons you can use during the promotion.
  • Stacking – Check to see if your store will allow you to combine store and manufacturer coupons on the same item.
  • Competitor Coupons – Many stores will honor coupons issued by their competitors and will also match advertised sale prices. It is worth your time to know which stores do so.

Have a Plan

To get the most from couponing, you must have a solid plan. Make a list before shopping and try to use coupons on items that are on sale for the highest savings. Check weekly ads and make sure to ask for a raincheck if an on-sale item is sold out. Just be sure not to buy an item you don’t need just because you have a good coupon. After all, couponing is about saving on items you would buy anyway, not spending unnecessarily.

About the Author

Kevin D. is a writer for HowDoIbe.com. This is a site that can help you learn how to save money, and even learn how to become a investment banker. You will learn more about couponing, and save more than before.

Image credit


%d bloggers like this: