Are you looking for a way to reduce your grocery bills? If so, then you should look into couponing. While you surely already know all about what couponing entails, you might feel reluctant to take part in it. Perhaps you think it's too much of a hassle and that the savings will be too meager to justify the effort. However, couponing can be a richly rewarding experience. It just requires proper planning and making wise decisions. These are some most-follow tips for someone who is getting started couponing.
Choose coupons based on purchases, not vice versa
Coupons are a great way to save money, but only if you're using them correctly. A huge fallacy people can fall for is having a whole binder full of coupons they've clipped, and then selecting items that matched up. So, they might think they're getting a bargain because they have a coupon for 75 cents off a bottle of ketchup, but what if ketchup wasn't on their shopping list in the first place? Same goes for "buy one, get one free" deals, which can clutter up your refrigerator and pantry with excess items you just don't need or want.
Instead, you should make your grocery list, and then look for coupons. Even if you can't find a coupon for all or most of the items on the list, you should still stick to your plan. For items that you can't find a coupon for, you should reason with yourself and consider going for the cheaper option. This is particularly true if you're choosing between a store and a name brand, and the former is significantly cheaper than the latter.
You greatly increase your chances of finding coupons for items on your grocery list if you're as diligent as possible. A great place to start is looking through coupons ads in the Sunday newspaper. You can also look online for coupons to print out and bring with you (just make sure they're legible). Plus, many grocery stores will print off coupons when you're done checking out.
If you're getting serious about couponing, having a system of organization is crucial. You don't want to be the person with about fifty different coupons stuffed in their pockets, who's pawing through each of them at the checkout line trying to figure out which coupons are for which items. You need to make sure that you have the correct coupons for the correct trip to the grocery. A great way to keep them sorted is with a special coupon binder. You can organize them based on categories like dairy, produce and bread.
Mind the dates
Nothing is forever, and that includes coupons. Most coupons give you a couple weeks to a month to use them, but the expiration dates can sneak up on you. When you go shopping, make sure to check your coupons and discard any that have expired. You might be kicking yourself a bit, but this will hopefully serve as a useful reminder for you to check the dates more in the future. Consider organizing your binder with the ones soonest to expire in the front.
Don't go crazy
You may have heard about "extreme couponing" and scoffed at the lengths people go to save money. While being frugal can be a very wise decision, there are some limits you should consider. If you find yourself wracking your brain trying to knock your grocery bill by enormous margins every time you go shopping, you need to take the time to center yourself. You can't always be expected to see enormous savings. Sometimes, you'll just save a few dollars, and that's fine. What's important is keeping up a consistent practice.
Couponing is a richly rewarding experience, but it's one that should be done with discretion and rationality. As a beginning couponer, you might find yourself feeling overwhelmed at times by all the options available for saving. It's important to remember that your needed items should precede what coupons you use, and that staying organized is key to success in the couponing world. If you follow these tips, your couponing experience will be much smoother.
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