With the fall of the economy in 2008, many families woke up in the middle of a complete financial disaster. Many people lost their jobs, even more could not find any jobs – and this includes both fresh graduates and people who had already gotten their fair share of experience in the field of work.
Under these circumstances, everyone wanted to save money as much as possible. And this is when coupons really started to catch everyone’s attention. TLC “sensed” the new trend 2 years after the economic crisis emerged and they even came up with a show focused on the idea of “extreme couponing). While in 2007 only 63.6% of the people regularly shopped with coupons, their numbers significantly increased by 2012 when 79.8% of them did it (and there may have been even higher percentages in the years immediately following the Great Recession start point).
Statistics in coupon usage are fascinating if you get to analyze them closer. Sometimes, the numbers are absolutely staggering: for example, in 2011, consumers received no less than $4.6 billion in coupon savings (and they had received $500 million less than that just one year before). More than 90% of the people asked also made a shopping list using coupons before they went out to do their grocery shopping and it was also estimated that ¾ of the consumers regularly search the Internet for coupons.
If you have ever looked at a coupon and never used it, you did it because you probably thought that a 5% off on a $4 product is not a big deal. In truth, it isn’t. But when summed up, all these coupons and savings can really make for really large numbers. Going back to the TLC show, some of the participants there managed to save tremendous sums of money by bringing “couponing” to absolute extremes (and some of them even saved tens of thousands of dollars a year on everything ranging from soap to cheese).
To understand the magnitude of what coupons are all about, think of the fact that no less than $485 billion were distributed 4 years ago, in 2010 – and think of what a small portion of that actually got to be used by consumers. You might think that the 15 minutes of fame of couponing have already faded away (now that the economy is slowly getting back on its own feet) – but you would be wrong. According to the studies made, more and more people these days use smartphone mobile coupons. To be more precise, the number of people who use smart phone mobile coupons has increased by 40 million from 2010 to 2014 – and that’s a BIG number to go by anyway you look at it!
No, couponing is not a complete waste of time – not if you do it the right way, that is. What is the right way and what are the most commonly encountered mistakes people do when trying to use coupons to save money on their shopping expenses? Read on and find out more.
So, How to Use Coupons to Save a Lot of Money?
Believe it or not, there are people who manage to considerably lower the sum of money they pay at checkout when grocery shopping precisely because they know very well how to make good use of their coupons. Some of them even walk out of the store without paying one cent on their shopping, while others “resume” themselves to saving tens and tens of dollars each week they re-stock on grocery supplies.
How do they do it? Is this some kind of “magic” or is it actual “technique”? We have picked up some really great tips that could help you save money with coupons too and they are listed below:
1. Diversify your sources
There are many places where you can get absolutely amazing coupons. You can get them in the newspapers, you can get them off the Internet, off “peelies” (they are usually valid for a long time and they can be found stuck to products) and so on. You can even get these coupons from the manufacturers if you are patient enough to email them and thank them for the quality of their products.
Remember, though, when getting coupons from the so-called “blinkies”, make sure you leave some for the other people as well. Everyone wants to save money just as much as you do!
2. Collect as many of them as possible
The only coupons that are not worth collecting are those for the products you would never, ever use just because they are that bad. Aside from that, all coupons are great. Don’t limit yourself to one brand, even if you really enjoy it because you can save a lot by using coupons available for other brands instead.
3. Get as many coupons of one kind as you can
Generally speaking, keeping 5 coupons of the same kind will make a deal worth it, but the more you have, the merrier you will save.
For instance, if a product costs $1 and they are on clearance for $0.75, you can add your $0.25 coupon and you’ll get that product for half of the price. If you have 6 coupons of the same kind, you will save $3 and get a nice “stash” of that product to use for a longer period of time too.
4. Organize your coupons
It is very important that you know how to organize your coupons in a binder. Organize them by what they offer discounts for (shampoos in one place, candy in another and so on). Make sure you think of categories as exact as possible so that you can find the coupons when needed – if you want to, you can inspire yourself from the way stores organize their items on their various aisles.
Also, make sure you regularly check and organize your coupons according to their expiration date as well. Keep all of them in a binder and take it with you when you do your grocery shopping. You never know what item may be on sale and what coupon may be suitable for it!
5. Learn when to use your coupons
Never buy an item just because you have a coupon for it. Rather than doing that, stack it with the other similar coupons and use it in the future. Use your coupons when there’s a sale so that you can get even more of a discount or use your coupons for the buy-one-get-one-free sales (you can choose to use two coupons here and basically get a “buy-half-get-one-and-a-half-free” sale instead).
6. Be smart about rebates
If you happen to get your hands on a rebate and on a coupon for the same product, use it smartly because you will not only get a free product, but you may also get paid for that product (you will get paid the value that would have been reduced off the normal price with the help of the coupon)
What Mistakes Should You Avoid When Couponing?
A lot of times, people make mistakes when couponing, thinking that they are saving money when they are actually wasting it away (or when they are wasting the opportunity of saving even more money). Here are some of the most common mistakes consumers make when couponing:
1. Not reading the store policies and the coupon’s rules
These bits of information are usually in fine print and it is extremely important that you read it. Every store has its own policy when it comes to coupon use and you don’t want to make a fool of yourself at the cash register by not conforming to these rules. To make sure you know everything these is to know before getting to the checkout, keep the stores’ coupon policies in the binder you take with you.
2. Not following the very specific size requirements some coupons have
You really need to follow these requirements because otherwise the coupon is not valid and you will end up paying for the full price of a product when you could have paid less for it if you paid a bit of attention.
3. Not stacking and not using coupons on products that are on sale
The secret with using coupons in a way that brings you actual benefits is making sure that you maximize their potential. Stacking them and using more coupons of the same kind on a product or using them on a product that is already on sale can help you save a lot more money than you would save just by buying the product on sale or by using the coupon when that item is not on sale.
Couponing does require a bit of time for searching and understanding how coupons work, but in the end, you will see that it was all worth it. Even 20 minutes a day spent on couponing can bring you important savings by the end of the year!