"... But they don't make coupons for the things I buy."
I hear this pretty frequently when the topic of coupons comes up in conversation - which now that I am a mega couponer happens all the time! The misconception is that you can never find coupons for what you need at the time you need it. If you're simply flipping through this Sunday's paper and comparing that to your grocery list, then this is probably your exact experience most of the time.
So how do you start saving money with coupons? It took me a long time to figure it out, even though it is simple. Make a list of the things you know you are going to need over the next 6 months.
"6 MONTHS? That's a long time. How am I going to know what I'll need 6 months from now?"
Easy! Go through your average day and write down things that you use that are non-perishable. Ask yourself:
- What do I use to clean my house?
- What do I use to do my laundry?
- What do I like to have on hand when I have a cold or the flu?
- What holidays and family gatherings are coming, and what do I typically contribute?
- What do I like to have on hand when the power goes out?
The more you start to think about what you use regularly, and what you can buy in advance and then store for later use, the more money you will be able to save. Comparing your list to store sales, joining store loyalty programs and clipping coupons for anything you know you'll need in the coming months will help you to maximize your savings.
For an example of big savings, here is what I did this morning at Walgreens. Halls Cough Drops (Regularly $2.19) were on sale for 2 for $3.00. In my coupon binder I had two coupons for $1.00 off of any 2 packages of Halls Cough Drops. Two weeks ago, I bought products at Walgreens that gave me back a $3.00 credit off my next purchase. So:
- I got four (4) packages of Halls Cough Drops. (Regularly $2.19 x 4 = $8.76)
- The packages were on sale for $1.50 each / $0.69 off. I saved $0.69 x 4 = $2.76.
($8.76-$2.76 = $6.00)
- I used two (2) coupons for $1.00 off two (2) packages, totaling $2.00 off. ($6.00 - $2.00 = $4.00)
- I redeemed my $3.00 credit from an earlier purchase. ($4.00 - $3.00 = $1.00)
So although we aren't sick right now, I got 4 bags of our favorite cough drops for $1.00. That's just $0.25 each for something I'd normally pay over $2.00 for when we run to the store because we're sick! By planning ahead - because I know we'll be sick eventually - I saved 89% over retail.
I promise you, if I can spend 5 minutes in Walgreens and save close to 90%, you can too.