Friday, October 1, 2010

Making the Most of Bargains

It takes a good deal of money to run a house, keep up cars and even to DIY.

So if you find yourself in the throes of a project, sales flyers and coupons can be your best friend. If you write checks, or use a debit or credit card with some stores, they will target you with these savings offers. (Thank you, Lowe’s, Home Depot, Gordman’s and Kohl’s.) I estimate that I save between $600 and $800 annually on coupon deals. And that’s probably quite conservative.

I diligently read the ads that make up much of our Sunday newspaper as well as the ones I find jamming the mailbox and even my email inbox. (Online coupon codes offer percent off and/or free shipping!)

If you look hard enough, you can find a whole selection of money-saving options from your local dry cleaners to fast -food restaurants to products that you use each day around the house.

Here’s a few tips for making these deals work for you.

· Get organized. Invest 99 cents in a small accordion-style folder. Or, better yet, clear one out that you aren’t using for anything in particular and use that to keep the coupons you think you’ll use. Use the separated slots to arrange the coupons in the way that works best for you. This could be by product category, by merchant type or chronologically by the order in which they will expire.
· Look closely. When you get your change, don’t offhandedly discard the receipt or the wad of other paperwork that comes with it. Fast-food restaurants, grocery and discount chains are renowned for putting cents-off coupons – or survey information that you can redeem for discounts or free products – onto the ends or backs of receipts. (Just this week, I’ve gotten a free sandwich and 25 percent off an item, roughly a $13 total savings, for investing a few minutes of my time.)
· Plan. Use flyers to plan your shopping trips. See if you have coupons that will bring the prices down even farther. Be aware of when coupons or other money-saving offers expire.
· In the car. Keep your coupon organizer in your car. This is the one way I’ve found that keeps me from leaving mine at home after I’ve gone to all the trouble to complete the other three steps above!

This is old hat for a lot of you. Many of you will already be the experts that I’m not at this. And if that’s the case, I applaud you. Others of you will wrinkle your nose, just like one lady did in the grocery store last week.

“I don’t mess with those coupons,” she said snootily as the checker rifled through the healthy stack I’d handed her. The tone changed, however, when my almost $60 order decreased by nearly $20. (Granted, $10 of this was an in-store promotion that I didn’t need a coupon for, but that I knew what the rules were and made sure it was applied to my bill.) The lady spied the final total as I forked over my cash.

“Maybe I should though,” she finally said.

Ya think?

1 comment:

Kate R said...

OMG, couponing can become addicting. Being a child of parents that grew up during the depression, coupons & S&H Green Stamps (anyone remember those?) were always used in our house so I've used coupons most of my life. BUT thanks to the blogosphere, I'm learning couponing on a whole new level. It's unbelievable how many things you can get nearly free, completely free & even in some cases, you get PAID for buying! And if it's something you were going to buy anyway, why the heck not?! If I walk out of a store & haven't saved AT LEAST 40%, I'm disappointed.