Money-Saving Monday: The mighty coupon

The coupon is a wonderful thing. But I didn't realize this until a couple of years ago. I had used coupons very rarely when they happened to land on my doorstep for something I happened to need right then, saving maybe a few dollars a year. And I took an occasional coupon on trips out to eat. But that was about it.

Since then, I've learned a lot about how coupons can come in handy for all sorts of purchases, and save all sorts of money.

Going out of my way to get coupons made a huge difference. Lots of coupons are on the Internet (such as product coupons on company websites); you'll find links to them on frugal blogs. Coupons.com and other sites devoted to coupons are great resources for loads of good coupons (see other sites on the right).  Some people subscribe to a major metro paper just to get the weekend coupons (you can get a weekend-only subscription), and they say it's more than worth it. Other sources, among many, include in-store coupon booklets, coupons that come with free samples, and coupons in magazine ads.

Many people say that coupons can only be used for things that aren't important, or that they don't buy. They claim that coupons can actually make you spend more because you'll purchase things you wouldn't ordinarily. And that can be true. But if you use them wisely, you can often get stuff you use all the time (eggs, milk, toothpaste, cereal, diapers, and more) for free or pennies on the dollar. Yes, it might be most economical to bake your own biscuits—unless you can get the Pillsbury pop-'em-in-your-oven style for free (which I have). I used to purchase the generic brand to save money. Now, my coupons often get me name-brand (and in my opinion often higher quality) products at much cheaper prices than generic ones.

One caution: Being brand-picky is typically not helpful. You might not get to buy your favorite brand of shampoo—but washing your hair at no cost ever again is too good to pass up (at least for me). Most people have some brand loyalties. Limiting those brands that are super important to you can help you save even more.

Couponing is work. Frugal bloggers make it easier by spelling out specific deals for you at specific grocery stores and other retailers. But since the savings can be so significant, it is like getting paid a decent salary for your work.

For more detailed information on couponing, check out these excellent resources:

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John said...
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