Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Coupon Queens

As the television show Extreme Couponing proves, some people are masters at coupon clipping. While I am impressed with their abilities, I am not willing to spend hours of my time with coupons, so here are a few suggestions that are not too time consuming, but often result in nice savings.

Today I saved $6.20 with two coupons and a store loyalty card. My savings pay for a latte or an inexpensive lunch, so it's worth keeping an eye out.
  • When heading out to dinner with a friend, pick a date in advance, but not a restaurant. On the day of the dinner, choose the restaurant based on the offers from a site like Living Social. This “planned spontaneity” will not only save money, but also encourage trying out new restaurants.

  • Alternatively, regularly keeping an eye on sites like Groupon and Gilt City for favorite restaurants means that when one heads out the door to her favorite restaurant, she already has a coupon in her wallet.

  • When heading to a particular store for some shopping, check online first to see if there are any coupon offers for that store. Department stores and large chain stores often have coupons for in-store purchases, but many will not scan the coupon barcode from your smartphone – you may still need that printer.

  • Sign up for every single store loyalty program possible, as long as the program is free. Allowing the store to track one’s purchases is absolutely worth the savings she receives from both in-store promotions available to loyalty card members, and reward points.

  • Sign up for every birthday program you can find. This year I got a free gift from Sephora, $20 off a meal at Haru in NYC, a free drink at Starbucks, and a small ice cream at Pinkberry. 

  •  Clipping coupons is as simple as taking a moment to flip through the offers that come in the weekly newspaper. However, these coupons only save one if she clips only the coupons for products she already uses. For instance, a coupon for a different brand of frozen vegetables is a great coupon choice. But a coupon for vegetables in sauce, when one currently buys vegetables without sauce, would not be a good alternative. It may be the company’s intent to entice us into trying something new with a coupon, but that coupon only saves us money if we already purchase that item at full cost. An added bonus to clipping coupons only for things I already use is that it takes just seconds to identify any useful coupons in a flyer, as opposed to taking time to consider each coupon’s potential.

Even without being extreme, these coupons and online deals add up quickly. None of these ideas are time consuming or difficult -- one must simply get in the habit of looking for, and taking advantage of, these offers.

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