Coupons are free money – more so today than in the past. Before the Internet, clipping coupons meant buying several papers each Sunday, clipping out little squares of paper and cataloging them neatly to use at the store.
Today, though, all you need to do is to check at SumoCoupon or another top coupon site, search for the coupons you want, copy them to a coupon managing app and go out shopping. Coupon apps easily catalog coupons by expiration date and in other ways so that it’s easy to find your way around them.
If you don’t wish to try an app, you can easily catalog coupons by hand, too. The reward for the little work that you put in can be spectacular. If you buy a box of cereal every week and have a 50p coupon for it, you’ll end up saving £26 each year – you can think of it as a month of broadband for free. A £1 coupon off your favorite brand of detergent should put another £15 or £20 in your pocket each year – a free night at the pub. It would be foolhardy to say no to free money like this.
As easy as technology has made couponing today, you do need to follow a simple system to make sure that you make the most of it.
Lay the Groundwork
Your first step should be to set up a dedicated email account just for the coupon-filled newsletters that your favorite manufacturers send out and for coupon alerts from the coupon websites that you are signed up to. Once you have the email account ready, it’s time to go to the website of every store, manufacturer and coupon site that you like and to sign up.
Each time you plan a shopping list ahead of a visit to the grocery store, you need to sit down with your coupon collection, work out what ingredients you have coupons for and plan your meals around them. For the best savings, you should find products that have three types of concurrent saving going – a sale by the store, a manufacturer’s coupon and a store coupon.
When you actually visit the supermarket, you need to stay alert to any extra offers, too – coupon codes right on the products you pick, coupons at the cash register and so on.
Get Even Better at Saving Money
Every store follows a sale cycle – especially on staples such as diapers and toilet paper, cereal, bread and so on. You can either ask the store you go to or simply keep an eye out on exactly when they put these items on sale. Usually, it’s a three-month cycle. When you time your coupon use to these sales cycles, you can get the products you need, practically for free.
Sometimes, the coupons you take to a store don’t scan properly into the store’s system. If the checkout clerk seems reluctant to accept your coupon for any reason, you shouldn’t let it go – rather, you should speak to the manager to make sure that you are given a fair deal.
Finally, being a fan of a manufacturer can net you a few special coupons. In the past, you had to write to a manufacturer to let them know that you were fan. Today, you simply need to Like them on Facebook.
GUEST BLOGGER: Russell Matthews is an accountant-turned-stay-at-home-dad. From household budgets to loans and investments, he greatly enjoys writing about the ins and outs of smart money management for the everyday person. Keep in touch with Russell on Twitter.