Coupons can significantly decrease the cost of items, specifically groceries. Americans spend a large percentage of their income on groceries. According to forbes.com, 7.7% of the American budget is spent on food eaten inside the home and 5.6% on food eaten outside of the home. These percentages are higher than what we spend on clothing, utilities, and entertainment. While many associate coupons with grocery items, coupons are actually out there for several items we use daily. So, why don’t more people use coupons? When we do take the time to cut them, why is our money still adding up to more than we may budget for? Here are a few common mistakes that are made.
1) Mistake 1: Not taking the time to cut coupons from inserts.
Cutting coupons can be therapeutic. All of us are busy. Sometimes our family members have their own agendas. However, taking 30 minutes per week cutting out coupons from inserts can make a huge dent in our savings. Think of it this way. Let’s say you buy a Sunday Paper for $1.25, the cost in Pennsylvania right now. If you find $20 worth of coupons for items you use, then that 30 minutes is well worth your time.
2) Mistake 2: Do not be brand loyal!
As you peruse your inserts, clip out all coupons for items you use. For instance, if you use toothpaste and you and your family have been using the same kind for the past 10 years, you are probably more inclined to cut the coupon out for that brand of toothpaste. However, you go to the store and notice your store doubles your coupon for another brand and you find another brand of toothpaste is being sold for less, you may have gotten that brand of toothpaste for far less than you would have to stick with the brand you usually use. Sometimes avid coupon users get items for Free!
3) Mistake 3: Not organizing your coupons.
So we talked about taking the 30 minutes to clip the coupons. You may find it very beneficial to organize your coupons according to the item. I read Trent Hamm’s TheSimpleDollar and saw that he and his wife use a photo album to store their coupons in. This is a great way to access the coupons you need quickly. I have also seen people use envelopes and shoeboxes. Whatever works for you, but the organization is key to effective coupon use.
4) Mistake 4: Not keeping coupons with you at all times!
Often I have been in a store I may not usually shop in and see that they have an item on sale and think to myself, I have that coupon! Oh wait, it’s at home. That coupon did not do me a bit of good despite me taking the time to clip and organize it. While I do not have a photo album with me, I do have an envelope of coupons that I use the most in my purse. I never know when I’ll have the time to shop between picking up the kids and working. It is far easier to have coupons at my fingertips.
5) Mistake 5: Not knowing where to find your coupons.
Sunday Papers are the most commonplace. However, redplum.com will send flyers to your home once you sign up on their site. Additionally, you can find extras at online sites such as coupons.com. Call the store you most commonly shop at because they may have their own sites. Martin’s GIANT has its own site where you can get coupons. Many magazines will also have some coupons tucked away as well.
6) Mistake 6: Not swapping with friends.
Chances are you are not the only person who has a strict budget and uses the coupons to ease the blow to your wallet. Remember the 30 minutes devoted to clipping? Well, if you clip all those coupons out and give the ones you do not use to friends, you saved your friends that time and perhaps they will return the favor.
7) Mistake 7: Being store loyal.
Our family primarily shops in one grocery store. However, we study the flyers to see who has the best deal. If one store is tripling our coupons and it is not the store we usually shop at, we’ll go to the store. We are fortunate as many of our stores are close together.
8) Mistake 8: Not using coupons at all!
There are many stores that will double if not triple your coupon. Some studying may need to be done but if you put in your time, your wallet will thank you. There is a satisfaction when you are in the checkout line or purchase a service (i.e. haircut) and get a significant discount. You may free some money up to do the things you want to do.
Coupons can not only make your life easier, but they can also create a network between you and others who use them. Also, you know those outdated coupons that most of us throw away? You can send those to military families in the United States for those coupons that are good from 6 months after the expiration date. Cutting coupons can be very beneficial not only to your wallets, but you may be able to save money on several items and can use that saved money toward items you may not normally purchase!