With National Coupon Month upon us it only seems appropriate to offer some strategic couponing tips straight from a couponing pro to help you save money on groceries. Jessica Crowe of TheHappyCouponer.com shares a recent email she received from one of her readers.
It seems like no matter how many coupons I clip I never save more than a few dollars on my grocery tab. I know I'd save more if I used more coupons, but I don't see the point in buying products I don't want or need just so I can say I saved a few more dollars. How do you really cut your grocery bill by 50 percent and only buy the products you want?
Only clip the coupons you plan to use
Manufacturers have a way of sucking you in with coupons. The picture of the product has eye-appeal and the value of the coupon is attractive. You're tempted to run right out and buy that new shampoo because the model's hair looks so fabulous in the picture. And, because you're saving a dollar, you think you're getting a bargain.
But spending $4 on a bottle of dandruff shampoo your family doesn't need or want, just so you can say you saved $1, is pretty ridiculous. So, yes, you're right on that account, Struggling. You're not saving anything at all if you're buying products you won't use.
Never use a coupon unless the product is on sale
Manufacturers and grocery stores have sales and promotion cycles. They offer certain products at discount prices at certain times throughout the year, and these cycles typically last 3, 4 or 6 months. So every 3 months you might see Cheerios go on sale for $1.99 a box, for example, while the regular price is $3.18.
Yet, you can almost always find a Cheerios coupon somewhere, any given day of the week. The secret is to hang onto those coupons and use them when Cheerios are on sale.
Even better, here's how coupon pros really save money: When you run across a coupon for a staple item like Cheerios, one you know your family uses every week, collect several copies of the coupon and buy enough boxes to last until the next time Cheerios go on sale. No, I'm not suggesting that you hoard Cheerios in your basement like those extreme couponers you see on TV. Just buy enough to last until the next sales cycle.
Make a list of items you buy every shopping trip and start logging the prices when you shop. Just check 4 or 5 at a time until you've put together a list of the regular retail prices for everything you buy.
Then, when you see that coupon in your Sunday paper, go ahead and clip it and add it to your file, but don't use it unless the product is on sale. And just because the store has a yellow tag hanging on the shelf doesn't mean the product is really a bargain this week. Check your price list before you buy.
Donna Anderson is a frugal grandmother. She and her frugal daughter, Jessica Crowe, spend just a few hours to save hundreds of dollars off their grocery bill each week. Visit them at TheHappyCouponer.com for weekly coupon match-ups and coupon alerts.
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- Don't buy something just because you have a coupon
- Know your store's coupon policy
- What to do when your store stops doubling coupons
- 7 tips to save money before you even start clipping coupons
- Can you really save money with a coupon clipping service?
- Coupon etiquette: Mind your manners while you save
- The low-down on double and triple coupons
- National Coupon Month: Fun facts and actual statistics