Thursday, July 7, 2011
How to Organize Your Coupons
How many times has this happened to you....You have a GREAT coupon, for lots of money off or for a free product. When you go to the store you're in a hurry, can't find the coupon or forgot it at home, and by the time you find it again and think 'woo hoo', it's expired. Bummer!
Well for those of us who pinch pennies, coupons can be very helpful. So it's in our best interests to figure out a way to use them wisely and make them accessible.
Let's start by talking about why manufacturers and stores make coupons. Why do you think? To help you save money? Umm...no. They have coupons to get you to try new products so that you'll see how well they work and continue to buy them. Or to buy something at a discount (say chips for example) so that you'll buy a complimentary product like salsa or soda at full price. Sometimes with 2 for 1 coupons it's to help clear out old stock. Get a free air freshener unit...and keep paying for refills. Some items are sold as "Loss Leaders" meaning that the product is such a good deal that the store actually loses money on it, but they are hoping that if you get your free watermelon you'll get the rest of your groceries there and they'll still make money. There is the perception that you have that a product must be good because it was a good deal, and having a tangible coupon to pay with reinforces your positive experience. It's all about marketing my dear.
There are some tips and tricks to using coupons. Don't cut out and use every coupon. You're not going to save money if you are buying products you don't use. Wait for the sales. If you regularly watch the flyers you'll notice a cycle to the sales such as diapers being on sale once every 8 weeks. Save your coupons up and use them on a sale item. I got an automatic air freshener at WalMart for free because the store had them on sale for $5 and I had a $5 coupon. Another tip, share coupons with your friends. We don't use our diaper coupons so we pass them along. Sign up for coupon delivery at a site like save.ca or through Procter and Gamble. They're more than happy to mail you coupons! And sites like this are available in different countries. These are just 2 from Canada. Just because you've got coupons doesn't mean you should stop shopping around for the lowest prices. In reality it doesn't make sense to drive a long way to 3 different stores just to save $6 on toilet paper and spend $10 on gas, but with careful planning you can definitely save by shopping at different stores.
Having and using coupons can save a lot of money if you use them wisely. But the key to using them is knowing you've got them. I've tried keeping them in envelopes, a mini-folder, recipe card box etc. But the best way I've seen is the way my friend Deanna does it. She went to the dollar store and got 2 little books that are designed to hold photos. They are about 4x6 inches and have plastic sleeves inside. You can easily flip through the book and actually see your coupons in each page. They're easy to get in and out in a hurry too. Deanna has 2 books, 1 for food coupons and 1 for household products like cleaners and paper products. She regularly goes through the coupons removing any that are expired and ones she has decide not to use.
So that's my thrifty tip for the week. Spend a couple of dollars, organize your coupons, and use them wisely. There's no shame in saving your hard earned money!