Tuesday, October 20, 2009
It's a rare family that's not on a food budget. The family food shopper searches for any way possible to cut back on the amount of money spent on food. One of those is using coupons.
Conservatively speaking, there are millions of coupons circulating every day that could cut your food budget by 30 to 50% - even more if you're willing to turn couponing into a passion.
Even the casual coupon clipper can become quite successful overnight and with more work and dedication become a super saver shopper. You have to be patient, flexible and perhaps give up your favorite brand, but it can be done and you can save a lot of money.
Remember, coupons are designed to sell a certain product and get you in the store but if the item is not one you need and use, then saving money on that item is a moot point.
Food coupons can be found anywhere. The Sunday newspaper is usually the best source but also look on line, at public libraries and at coupon swap boxes at the store itself. Some stores issue coupons at checkout for use on your next trip. Be sure and note expiration dates and if a cash value is offered. Don't let them expire and go to waste.
The keys to a successful coupon strategy are:
Organize before you shop. Keep coupons sorted by food type in an easy to search through container and match coupons with needs on your grocery list. Some coupons have mail in rebates. Beware of this and follow up.
Use Store Loyalty Card Programs. Sign up for a store loyalty card that usually offers coupons plus bonus points that are cumulative each time you shop. Using a store's own credit card can lead to double points and free item coupons.
Combine regular coupons with sale prices. If a coupon item is not on sale and it's not an urgent buy wait until it's on sale. Be on the lookout for sale and bonus points tags.
Compare ads. It may pay you to drive to more than one store if it's an item you need, have a coupon and it's not available anywhere else. But, before you burn up extra gas, ask if the store honors its competitor's coupons. Many will do this just to keep you in the store. You can call ahead to save a trip.
Don't buy too much. Don't be susceptible to the 2 for a dollar marketing tool unless it's to your advantage with a coupon. If you need two of the item go ahead and buy them; but save by buying only one if that's what you need. For example, the sign may read: 15 limes for a dollar. Unless you're a big lime user, some could go bad before you use them.
There was a time when some shoppers felt using coupons was not appreciated by the grocer and hesitated to use them. They didn't want to hold up the line while the checker scanned coupons.
It's a faster and easier method now with computers. Some of these strategies may not be right for you. It takes practice and patience, trial and error. If stretching your food dollar is your goal, there are few better ways than using coupons.