The hype around extreme couponing seems to have slowed recently, maybe because shoppers are returning to their normal habits, especially those who are only shopping for one or two.
That’s the category I fall into. As a 20-something woman who only shops for myself and the occasional visitor, I have certain items I keep back-ups of and hunt for certain coupons, but I don’t have (or need) an entire room dedicated to a stock pile of stuff.
So, what are some ways you can reach this happy medium of couponing and saving money without going overboard? It’s pretty simple.
I don’t just write the weekly blog about Sunday inserts for show. I comb through my Sunday paper just like other bargain hunters scoping out the best deals of the week. I clip the coupons I need and at times will do a little trade with my mom. She takes the pet coupons I have no use for and I get coupons for snacks and beauty products in return.
I also print coupons from time to time. Once every week or two I’ll browse through Coupons.com, AllYou.com, Smartsource.com, Redplum.com and Target.com. In an effort not to waste paper I don’t print all the coupons available (there always seems to be an option for that), but instead flip through each page of each site and select which coupons I can actually use. This creates less trash for me and only takes a few minutes.
In addition to the websites, I’ll also check the Facebook pages and websites of my favorite brands when I’m about to run out of a product. More often than not I luck out and find a coupon waiting. It’s especially nice when I find store coupons on Target’s website, as those can be stacked with the manufacturer coupons found elsewhere.
Stocking up on basics
If there’s something on sale that I use a lot, usually pantry staples like chicken broth, diced tomatoes, and various sauces or spice packets, I’ll buy a few — especially if I have the coupons.
I don’t obsess over stacking coupons with sale prices but I do take advantage of the savings if I can. If a product is on sale and I have three coupons for it, I’ll go ahead and buy three to stock up. If it’s not on sale but I need it, I’m still saving a little with my coupons.
I always make a point to stop by the clearance racks. These are the absolute best places to find great deals. I have the most luck clearance shopping at Target and Kroger. More often than not the items I’m interested in purchasing also have coupons available. Most recently I’ve stocked up on Febreze candles, Sally Hansen nail products and Oral B toothbrushes all for about 80 percent off their normal retail price.
Meat is another product I’ll keep stocked. Products that freeze well like chicken breasts, turkey cutlets, ground beef and pork tenderloins can frequently be found discounted. I love finding these deep deals and storing them in my freezer for a future quick dinner. They’re on sale so often I usually just pick up one at a time and replace the product once I’ve used it up.
If I’m shopping for apparel, accessories, home decor or electronics it’s an extreme rarity that I ever pay full price. I love discount retailers like TJ Maxx and Marshall’s. I’ll also scour the clearance racks at Macy’s, Belk and other stores at the mall. If it’s a retailer that frequently offers coupons, I’ll try to hold out for those extra savings, too.
I’ve found that comparing prices to online retailers is a good idea. These websites can be much cheaper than brick-and-mortar stores and seeing the price difference helps me decide on a price point I’d be happy with.
If the product isn’t new on the market, I’ll also check out eBay or the used section on Amazon. Online “outlets” are a good option, too. Sears, Best Buy and Amazon are just a few retailers that offer outlet sites filled with close-outs, refurbished, overstocked, as-is, and returned merchandise.
As I’ve already mentioned, Target and Kroger are my go-to retailers to clearance shop. Once you get in the habit of checking the clearance racks, you’ll really start to save. It also puts the regular retail price of merchandise in perspective.
I also save on my health and beauty products at CVS because of its Extra Bucks rewards program. With the Extra Bucks, store coupons, manufacturer coupons and sale prices, the retailer, whose normal prices can be higher than other retailers, becomes an affordable option.
I’m also a fan of Dollar Tree. This is another spot you have to check frequently because of the always-changing selection. Storage containers, Softsoap and certain frozen foods are a steal at $1 each if you can catch them — especially if you’re lucky enough to have a coupon as well.
I’ve also figured out a couple of extra little things I can do from day to day to save. Kroger is my most convenient grocery store, so I try to stick to buying Kroger gas because of the savings earned with gas points. I make sure I use my cash rewards credit card for gas, too. The cash back rewards add up surprisingly quick.
I also shop around for just about everything. Unless it’s an absolute necessity that I need immediately, I’ll visit various stores as well as online retailers before making a purchase. As an Amazon Prime member and Shop Runner account holder, I’m able to save on shipping if I do make an online purchase.
For me, it’s most important to pay attention to where my money is going and then decide whether a purchase is worth it. I admittedly buy plenty of everyday items full price, but if there’s any possible way to avoid that I will. For luxury or fun items, the thrill of searching for the best price just makes them that much sweeter once the products are mine.
What are your day-to-day money saving habits?