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Couponing is presented as a way to save a lot of money, but nearly every guide that explains how to do it lays out a plan that would take hours every week. These methods involve spending time tracking down coupons from several different sources, organizing them, then traveling around town to shop at a bunch of different stores. Fortunately, there is a better way to save money with coupons that takes an hour or less every week. Here are my tips for realistic couponing.
Rather than spending hours combing through your neighbors trash for discarded coupon inserts or spending tons of money on eBay, stick to just one or two methods of getting coupons. Your Sunday paper is the easiest place to get coupons. Sure, there might be only one of each coupon, but how many bottles of mustard do you really need? You might also want to bookmark one or two websites that offer printable coupons, or better yet, download an app on your smart phone that the cashier can scan when you check out.
Only clip or save the coupons for products that your family will actually use. There is no point in clipping coupons for denture cleaner if no one in your family has dentures. Even if you get something for free, what’s the point if you don’t use it?
Forget about binders or alphabetizing your vast coupon collection. Get a simple accordion file and use one section per aisle at your favorite grocery store. If you shop at multiple stores, organize the coupons by category.
When you get the grocery ads, go through each ad for the stores your normally shop at and make a list of the things you use that are on sale. If something is on sale but you don’t need it, skip it. Next to each item on the list, write down the price and the brand name.
Go through your coupon file and look for the coupons that match the items on your list. Pull these out, and ignore the rest. Go through your list again and cross off items that you don’t have coupons for and that you don’t need immediately. Then, go to the store and buy just the items on your list. While you might not end up with tons of free products with this method, you’ll find out that you can cut a lot off of your grocery bill.
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