How to Use Coupons: Tips From a Non-Extreme Couponer

how to use couponsAccording to the consumer research firm Statista, over 305 Billion coupons for packaged goods were distributed in the Unites States in 2012 with 38% attributable to food products. U.S. consumers redeemed slightly less than 10% of those coupons in 2012 for a savings of $3.7 Billion. A growing trend is the use of online coupons and in 2011 66% of consumers in the U.S. used some form of online coupon to save money on household expenses. One of the reasons sited for the low usage of coupons is that the process is time consuming.  This perception couldn't be further from the truth. I encourage you to try one of the following strategies that show how to use coupons without the hassel.

Clip Coupons Only for Products You Use

If you are going to clip coupons I recommend you only clip coupons for products that you use. I don't know about you but I have more important things to do with my time than sitting at the kitchen table clipping coupons for products that my family is not currently using. Like most American consumers I have certain brands that I buy not necessarily because they are cheaper in price but because I prefer the product. One example is cereal. I have several brands of cereal that I have been eating for some time and will not buy another brand even if it is on sale or is a better buy with a coupon.

Sign-up for Digital Coupons

One of the easiest ways to save money is to sign-up for digital coupons. Be careful though as there are restrictions. Kroger, for instance requires you to have an online account and a shopper loyalty card with them before you can receive digital coupons. Digital coupons are deducted at checkout before any paper coupons are processed so if you have a paper coupon for the same item you won't be able to use it.

Another option is to use an online coupon site like SumoCoupon where you can search for coupons and promo codes from hundreds of online stores. One of the benefits of using a site like this is that they have done much of the work for you by selecting the best deals on popular goods and services.

Keep a Coupon Filing System That Works for You

A coupon filing system can be a great time saver because after all, what is the point of clipping coupons if you can't find them when you need them? A small filing pouch with tabs labeled with categories will help you quickly locate coupons before making a trip to the store.

Keep Coupons for Fast Food in the Car

Every Thursday we receive Grocery Store advertisements and coupons in the mail. The first thing I do is set aside the grocery store ads for planning my next shopping trip. The next thing I do is to clip and file any coupons for products that I use and if there are any coupons for fast food restaurants that I frequent I will run out to the truck and put them in the glovebox. The next time I am on the road and need to stop for a bite to eat, I have some coupons to choose from with me.

Plan to Save Money Shopping

I'll be the first to admit that I don't use coupons as often as I should, mainly because I forget to bring them with me. Unplanned shopping trips are a major reason why people overspend and planning your shopping trips will help to eliminate impulsive purchases.  Some tips to reduce your food bill are: 1) Plan a weekly menu   2)  Shop 1 time each week at the grocery store  3) Buy only what is on your grocery list  4) Use coupons for products on your list.

Readers: Do you use digital coupons or coupon sites before making purchases? 

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10 Responses to How to Use Coupons: Tips From a Non-Extreme Couponer

  1. MJ 07/18/2013 at 3:14 pm #

    Absolutely brilliant post! I am an Extreme Couponer but I don’t buy something just because I have a coupon for it. I don’t have a huge stockpile either because I give everything to my family and friends. Extreme or not, I always forget to put my fast food coupons in my car! Happy Couponing everyone!

  2. CashRebel 07/12/2013 at 8:17 pm #

    So far I use coupons for CostCo just because they already send them to me. It sounds like I need to sign up for digital coupons. Thanks for the tips!

  3. Joshua Rodriguez 07/02/2013 at 2:36 pm #

    I need to get a coupon filing system! I’v saved many coupons but when it comes time to use them I forget where I put them or I simply just forget to use them. Keeping the fast food coupons in the car definitely helps since they don’t due any good in the house. Thanks for the great tips Paul!

  4. Paul 07/02/2013 at 9:57 am #

    Another way to save money is with an app called RedLaser. I used it at BestBuy to scan the UPC symbol on software and they matched the price from a competitor’s store!

  5. Your Daily Finance 07/02/2013 at 3:12 am #

    I am glad to see another person who is not a coupon extremer. I cant see myself just buying because I have coupons to save. With that being said the wifey uses a lot of coupons but she usually makes a list of things we need and then looks for the coupons. I am not sure what sites she visits but all I know is when we are in the grocery store she just whips out her Iphone and I usually get handed some coupons for them to scan. For trips and eating out she uses Groupon and Livingsocial the last I checked.

  6. Midlife Finance 07/01/2013 at 9:16 am #

    The missus deal with all that coupons. 🙂
    I’ll check out some digital coupons and see if it’s worth my time. Thanks for the tips.

  7. Greg @ 06/29/2013 at 5:26 pm #

    I think we use all of these tips. Same as you, we are not crazy couponers, but try to use them to save some cash overall. We definitely do the fast food coupons. We save those for trips to see family. Otherwise, we try to avoid fast food.

  8. Paul 06/28/2013 at 8:04 am #

    I’m with you on the paper coupons Russell however, digital coupons and online coupon sites make the whole process much easier!

  9. Russell 06/28/2013 at 7:21 am #

    Great tips Paul. Personally, I’ve never been into old fashioned coupon clipping, but I can’t remember the last time I bought something online without googling (sp?) store name + promo code to see if I can get 5 or 10 bucks off. There are always deals to be had!

  10. Tushar @ Everything Finance 06/28/2013 at 6:22 am #

    To be honest, I am not a huge coupon clipper. Sometimes I’ll try to resolve to clip more so I can save more money at the cash register, but I always forget or bypass them. I like the idea of keeping them in the car so I don’t forget.