Let’s face it – some of us shy away from couponing because we think it might tax our sanity…and if you’re like me, your sanity is hanging on by a thin thread on most days! In this day and age of “extreme couponing” (and the phenomenon of “coupon” becoming a verb), it can seem like saving money with coupons borders on the insane.
However, you don’t have to be extreme to save some money and save your sanity. Here are some tips to help.
Budget Your Time
One key to preventing the coupon craze from taking over your life is to budget the amount of time you are willing to spend on studying sales flyers, clipping and/or printing coupons, and loading electronic coupons onto your store’s loyalty card (more on loyalty cards below). Otherwise, you may feel like you’re spending all your time organizing and clipping and obsessing over coupons and sales!
Stop the Running
Sources agree that narrowing down your shopping to two stores is very helpful in saving money and sanity. For one thing, you don’t spend as much on gas if you only go to one or two stores. For another thing, you can save more when you focus on just a couple of stores and their sales and coupons. Trying to save a few dollars at six different stores will only contribute to the insanity.
If your store offers a loyalty card, sign up for it. It’s usually free, and even if it isn’t, it’s likely to be well worth it. It’s not just that the loyalty card gives you access to all the store’s sales (you’ll have to pay full price every time without it), but the card also puts you “in the system.” That means that the store may send you special coupons or deals, especially if your loyalty card is involved in logging in to your store’s website.
The point is to get connected to the network as a shopper and coupon user in your particular stores. They can’t inform you of deals if they don’t know you exist!
Keep It in Perspective
Okay, so you missed a deal or let some coupons expire. Don’t sweat it; it’s just not worth it. Learn to let it go when you have to and you’ll take a lot of the stress out of couponing.
Matching the Coupons to Sales…and Your List
Most people know to match coupons with sales, but matching them with your list is just as important. When making out your grocery list, go through your coupons and make your list accordingly.
It wouldn’t hurt to put a little “c” in parenthesis beside the items on your list for which you have a coupon. This is especially handy if you have electronic coupons loaded onto a loyalty card – it’s easy to forget just what’s on there. So check your online list as well, and maybe make a note by putting an “ec” beside the items for which you have an electronic coupon.
What other tips do you have for couponing without losing your mind?