Here is Marcia’s first post of the year…
With the start of a brand new year, the slate has been wiped clean and we can all put behind us those habits that did us no good in 2011. Like shopping without coupons. Even if you don’t think you have the time to become an extreme couponer, how about resolving to use coupons even just a little more than you did last year? Here are some baby steps to take that will get you on the road to big savings this year.
Resolve To Use Coupons
The first step to saving more is deciding to be more diligent about clipping and using those coupons at the grocery store. You don’t have to make this a full-time job, but how about committing to set aside an hour, once a week, to pull out that weekly sale flyer and identify products that are on sale that you need.
Next, head online to a coupon database, like the one at http://www.couponmom.com/grocery-coupon-database-10. You can see which coupons are currently available for the products you intend to buy. Finally, gather those coupons. That may mean clipping from Sunday inserts; visiting coupon websites, like www.coupons.com or www.smartsource.com; or perusing the coupons and rebates available through eBay sellers, at www.ebay.com. With the coupons you need in-hand, go shop and watch your final bill shrink.
Resolve To Track Your Savings
I think one of the biggest reasons people don’t clip coupons is that they think it won’t have much of an impact on their budget. They can’t imagine that a few slips of paper could yield enough savings to warrant spending the time collecting, sorting, and organizing them. And yet, when they give it a try, many are surprised by how easy it was to save $10, $20 or even $100 at checkout.
Whether you’re a coupon skeptic or someone who wants to be one of the coupon stars on the TV show “Extreme Couponing,” start tracking your coupon savings more carefully. Look at your grocery receipt each time you shop and note how much you saved. Then deposit that amount in a savings account that is separate from your other bank accounts. In a month or two, take a look at your balance and decide if couponing is worth it or not. I bet you’ll be surprised at how much is there.
Resolve to be Efficient About Your Couponing.
Although collecting and matching available coupons to products on sale each week does take time, it can probably take even less time than you think. To improve your savings without taking up more of your valuable time, consider taking a new approach this year. That is, go for the low-hanging fruit – the easiest savings – first. That means exploring rebates, which can save you $5-$25 easily in one shopping trip in only a few minutes. I usually check the selection at http://www.ebay.com/, by searching for “Rebate,” and order forms that are valid in my state for products I know I need.
Also, take advantage of free offers at local pharmacies whenever possible, as long as they are convenient to you. Don’t drive 50 miles to pick up a free tube of toothpaste; you’ll spend more than the value of the toothpaste in gas. But do stop by CVS, Rite Aid, and Walgreens when you’re in the neighborhood and can snag some products at 100% off.
Resolve to Celebrate Your Accomplishments
Just because you didn’t buy $1,000 worth of food at the grocery store for nothing this week, don’t knock what you were able to accomplish. The truth is, even the extreme couponers on TV don’t save that much on a normal week. So focus on what you did achieve. Did you save $10? Terrific! Did you get 30% of your groceries for free? Awesome! Pat yourself on the back for all that you do save. And this year, let’s all resolve to save more.