Stretching a budget, often to the point of breaking, is more and more common. Over the next few months, I’m going to teach you several tips and techniques for pinching a penny that are really easy to implement.
The first, and most basic, way to get started is coupons.
Before you start, you have to familiarize yourself with your store’s coupon policy. Most stores take manufacturer coupons. Some stores will allow you to “stack” manufacturer coupons with store issued coupons. Some stores have e-coupons that are loaded onto your shopper loyalty card. Some double and triple coupon values.
Most coupon policies are on the company website, or can be obtained by an email request. Print these out and take them into the store with you. Cashiers are not always correct in the way they accept coupons. You have to know your policy and have it with you to get them accepted correctly.
Do not be afraid to speak up at the register. This is your money. Ask for a manager if you notice your cashier isn’t handling your coupons correctly. If you’re using a FREE coupon, make sure your cashier looks at the receipt for the price. I’ve had many coupons for free products entered wrong because a cashier didn’t want to take the time to look.
It takes time to clip and sort your coupons. I look at time spent working on my coupon binder as a way to pay back into my budget.
The easiest way to sort coupons is with an accordion style holder, which you can often find in office supply stores. These are arranged how you want them. I started out with mine sorted by category (dairy, hair care, child, etc.) and then as my stash grew, I moved into alphabetical order.
Other way to sort is by insert date. This is useful if you know which date the coupon was inserted in the paper. Not so handy if you need to grab and go. Handy if you don’t have a lot of time to clip and sort. I’ve found that this actually wastes time because you’re constantly clipping when you need a coupon. You could potentially re-visit the same insert three weeks in a row to clip.
My current way to sort coupons is in a zippered binder with clear plastic sheets that are used for organizing baseball card collections. I have sections based on type of product (baby, bath and body, oral care, etc.) with further divisions in each section (make up, body wash, deodorant). It’s bulky but easy to find coupons when I need them. Pocket dividers at the front hold store policies and coupons for specific stores.
However you decide to organize, make sure you keep a calculator and pen with your coupons. You’ll need them more than you realize.
Now that you’re all ready to sort your coupons, where are you going to get them? Well, you’re going to have to keep reading for all my tips and secrets!