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This is the first and probably the most important lesson in using coupons to your advantage. You don’t need to utilize every coupon that you can lay your hands on. If you cut and save every coupon available, you will end up purchasing things that you don’t need just to get that extra 50 cents off on a product. But in effect you have spent a few extra dollars to get that discount and wasted precious money instead of saving. A clutter of unimportant coupons also increase the chances of missing out on the coupon that could have saved you hard cash.
What you need is a plan and shopping list. The list will help you select the coupons that match your requirements. Here you can make subtle adjustments depending on the coupons you have. For example, you generally eat brand ‘A’ cereals, but the coupons are for brand ‘B’. Unless you are extremely finicky about your preference, you can easily make the switch and save money. On the other hand, it doesn’t make sense to stock up on chicken nuggets just because you have coupons for it, when you actually need cereals.
Almost all supermarkets and grocery stores have multiple sales throughout the years. Typically there are three types of sales — stock clearance sales, sales during the festive season or special occasions and brand-specific sales. If use a coupon during a non-sale period you save only what the coupon offers, while using the same coupon during a sale can help you save a lot more. Suppose product A costs $4.99 and the coupon you have will save you 50 cents. The same product, during a sale, costs say $2.99 and with the coupon you get it for $2.49. So, you effectively save $2.50 instead of just 50 cents.
However, in order to maximize your savings in this way, you have to be patient and organized. Save all the coupons relevant to you in separate folders marked with their validity periods. When a sales comes along, you collect all the coupons that are still valid and head over the store. What do you do if multiple stores have sales at the same time? Most major supermarkets and grocery stores have an online presence these days. So, check out the deals being offered by each store and decide which makes more sense for you. Remember that just like not all coupons are good for you, not all sales are good either. Always refer back to your list to decide which items you should prioritize and which you can let go of.
Everything is moving online and coupons and deals for groceries are no different. There are a number of apps that offer coupons, cashbacks, gift cards, etc. for groceries. However, like with all good things there are a few caveats.
Let’s take Ibotta, for example. It’s one of the most popular apps for saving money on grocery purchases. It offers cashback rebates. But to ‘qualify’ for the cash back you not only have to upload an image of the receipt, you also have to fill out a survey or watch a video. On the upside, it allows you to shop at all the major stores, including Walmart, Costco, Target and Whole Foods, among others. On the other hand, Checkout 51, which is another popular app, functions exactly like Ibotta but you don’t have to perform any extra tasks. Then there’s the Walmart Savings Catcher app, which gives you e-gift cards when a competitor offers a product at a lower price. The value of the gift card is equal to difference in price. The well-known couponing site Coupons.com also has an app.
All of these apps are fairly simple to use and after a couple of tries you will get accustomed to them.
A coupon issued by a brand or manufacturer can be combined with a coupon offered by a particular supermarket or store. This is where the so-called extreme couponers trump regular customers, who aren’t aware of the possibilities. Let’s dig in deeper.
You have five $1 discount coupons for a particular brand of cereal. The cereal costs $3.99, but is currently on sale at the supermarket you shop from and available for $1.99. So, if you buy five boxes of this cereal you get them for $4.95 instead of $9.95. So, you have already saved $5. Now, you also have a ‘get $5 off on total purchase of $20’ coupon offered by this supermarket. You can combine this coupon with the earlier one and save even more. All you have to do is pick up $20 worth of stuff at discounted prices using brand-specific coupons and then use the coupon offered by the supermarket to save a further $5.
Most major supermarkets and grocery stores have an in-house loyalty program, which offer discounts and deals on groceries and other items available at the store specifically to those who have signed up for the loyalty program. The stores offer this as part of their customer retention and repeat customer policy and don’t charge a penny for signing up.
If you subscribe to multiple newspapers for the coupons, then make sure you store the coupons in an organized manner. It might seem like a tedious chore, but when you need a particular coupon you will know exactly where it is. Also, you coupon collection won’t be bloated by coupons that have expired. Happy couponing!