One of the main complaints that many have with regard to using coupons is the fact that you only save a little bit here and there. It’s hard to see the benefit in savings $0.50 or even as much as a $1.00 on three or four items when your total grocery bill runs into the $100 range. Even if you manage to get enough coupons that you save $5 a week, that’s “only” $260 a year. While that money could certainly be useful in a good savings account or investment, or could be used for other things that you might need (one month of heating in the winter, maybe), it doesn’t seem like a whole lot for the work it takes to clip coupons.
This is because the real trick to effective coupon use is not in clipping a few coupons every now and then, and bringing them to the store. The real key is combining offers. Here are some ways that you can use the concept of combining offers to help boost your coupon savings:
- Store coupons + manufacturer coupons: Many stores will accept a manufacturer coupon on top of store coupons. Check to see what special coupons your favorite grocery is offering. Then go online look to see whether the manufacturer has any coupons as well. You can bring in both coupons, and increase your savings on that item. Just make sure that the store policy allows you to bring in double coupons.
- Sales + coupons: Another way to combine offers is to bring in coupons on sale items. Check store circulars on sales (many of them come in the mail, free to you) and then see if you can find coupons on sale items that you want. Look locally, but also go online. You can really hit the jackpot if you have a store coupon, a manufacturer coupon, and a sale item.
- Offers from other stores: Find out your favorite store’s policy on coupons from competitors. Many stores will accept competitor coupons, just to keep your businesses at their location. Other stores will actually double the value of coupons from other stores, so if you bring in a $0.75 off coupon from a competitor, the store will double the value, and give you $1.50 off. Along these same lines, it is possible to find stores that will match the lowest advertised price — and then take 5% or 10% off that. A competitor’s advertisement can become a coupon of sorts.
- Expired coupons: Some stores will still accept coupons, even when they are expired. These stores are few and far between, but you don’t lose anything by calling up the store manager and asking for the policy on expired coupons. And if the store does accept expired coupons, you can use them more strategically when items come on sale, or when you see a manufacturer’s coupon.
In the end, you have to do some serious planning in order to save a great deal of money using coupons. If all you do is clip the occasional coupon and save $2.00 a week, you will be hard-pressed to see the value in what you are doing. However, if you plan ahead, look for the deals, and get organized so that you can combine offers, you will find that the savings add up more than you believe.