Thursday, April 7, 2011

Savings 101, Part 7 :: When Should I Use My Coupons?

This is a continuation of the Savings 101 series I have currently been doing.

Okay, so you’ve already learned some of the basics of using your coupons, but what about knowing when to use your coupon.  One of the problems I had back when I first started trying to get the hang of saving with coupons was the thought that as soon as I received the coupon I needed to go to the store and use it.  That was so wrong!  Just because you may receive a great $3 off coupon in the newspaper insert one weekend doesn’t mean you have to go out the very next day to use it!  Most coupons don’t expire for at least a couple of months, so we need to be strategic about when to use the coupon.  The secret: always pair your coupons with a sale.  Always!

Here are a few easy tips to help you know the best time to use your coupon:

1.      Track the sales:  Make yourself a price book of the items that you buy most often.  You’ll want to track the regular price, the sale price, and then the rock bottom price.  Once you’ve compiled a list (and after a few weeks of couponing) you’ll start to see a trend in the sales and it will become more natural for you to know when to pair your coupon with the sale.  For the maximum savings you’ll want to save your coupon for the rock bottom price, if possible.
2.      Use Coupon Matchups:  Each week I (as well as many other blogs) do several store matchups.  If you check some of these matchups they will tell you exactly which coupon to use with which item.  All you have to do is make your grocery list from the matchup list.  You’ll start to build a small stockpile after a few weeks and eventually all you’ll have to buy are the items that are rock bottom price each week, other than milk and produce.
3.      Stack Your Coupons:  Stacking coupons is when you use one manufacturer coupon along with a store coupon.  You have to know your store coupon policies to make sure this is allowed, but most stores that have store coupons do allow stacking.  For example, Scott Paper Towels were on sale at Walgreens this week for $5.  There was a $1 off Walgreens coupon in their April coupon booklet.  I also found a $1.50 off manufacturer coupon on the Scott website.  That means I ended up getting $2.50 off the $5 package of paper towels!  That’s 6 rolls of paper towels for just $2.50—or $.42 each!  Stacking is one of the best ways to maximize savings at stores that do not double coupons. 
4.      Price Match:  Okay, so you’re busy and tired and don’t have time to go to several different stores this week.  Guess what?  Walmart price matches.  So, if you were planning to shop some sales but can’t go to 10 different stores this week try taking your ad to Walmart and price matching.  Add your coupons on top of that to maximize your savings there.  (I personally, don’t shop a whole lot at Walmart because I’m addicted to the double coupons and the RR/ECB’s at the drug stores.  You can usually end up getting much better deals if you know how to work the drug store game)  I will try to have a post about that soon.

So, that’s it!  Remember to always use your coupons with a sale to maximize your savings potential.  If your coupon expiration is nearing and you still haven’t seen the item on sale, then you make the decision if it’s worth it to you to use the coupon without the sale or not.  To me, it just depends on the product and how many of them I have in stock. 

Stay tuned for the next part of Savings 101 coming next week!

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