A Guide to Couponing
Check out these couponing tips and open a checking account online to track spending
You see coupons constantly in your inbox, mailbox, or newspaper, and perhaps you have even clipped a few to save money. However, when done correctly, you only need to spend an hour or two a week couponing to save thousands of dollars a year - a relaxing task for a Sunday afternoon. Consider opening a checking account online, like the One Deposit Checking from Citizens Bank®, to manage your grocery and household expenses and track your coupon savings. Then, transfer the earnings from your couponing to a savings account for long-term goals like retirement, your child's education or even short-term goals like a family vacation. Read on for couponing tips to save money while stocking up on just what your family needs.
How to start couponing
Start by examining your household spending habits for the past six months. If you have a designated account for groceries, this will be even easier. Once you do that, use this guide to couponing and start saving.
- Create a system that works for you. We've all heard the adage 'Don't go shopping when you're hungry,' and you probably know that making a list also helps you avoid buying items you don't need, which can save you money. However, creating a list in advance can also help inform your couponing and look for the best times to buy certain items. Using a spreadsheet tool, create multiple shopping lists, breaking them out based on category or frequency you need certain items. For example, are there staple food items that are always on your list? How much do they generally cost? Create a column for the item, one for the price, and one to record the savings based on the coupon.
Once you have a system in place, it will be easier to see what you need (and what you need to be regularly on the lookout for when couponing), what you can stock up and save on, and even what you can cut back on. You'll also want to use some time each week to clean out expired coupons and determine what needs to be purchased sooner rather than later for optimal savings.
- Pick a time for your couponing. Set aside an hour or two of your busy schedule to sit down and clip coupons. Or, you can find coupons online and print them - or even download them to your smartphone (many apps will also provide coupons regularly, so you just need to check). This might be the perfect task for a Sunday afternoon or right when you get home from work. It can even be relaxing once you have a good system in place. Additionally, having a designated time to do your clipping will make you less likely to skip it and miss out on savings opportunities.
- Learn where to get coupons and combine offers. A good couponing tip is to start with the circulars that come in the mail, but don't forget to check receipts, online and email offers and social couponing sites for even more deals. There are even some sites that will catalogue offers for you, so you just need to search by site or by store to find what you're looking for. Apps for your favorite stores may also often have coupons or special offers, so you may want to adjust your settings to be notified when a new one is posted. Make sure you also sign up for any available loyalty programs for additional discounts. And remember, coupons aren't just for groceries; you're bound to find savings for just about everything you shop for, be it back to school clothes or even a spa day once you know where to look.
Once you know how to coupon for your family, consider how you can increase your savings by combining offers and asking stores if they match competitors' coupons or sales. Some offers may only be used on their own or may not be available in certain stores, but there can be great savings if you're able to combine a few, like using a brand coupon in conjunction with a store's sale. Get more than one copy of a circular if you can, especially if you'll be purchasing more of an item than what is included in the offer. If a store doesn't have an item in stock, see if they will extend a rain check and allow you to come back and use a coupon within 30 days, despite its expiration date.
- Organize your coupons for easy access on the go. Now that you know how to start couponing, it's important to determine where you will store your coupons for easy and timely access in the store. A small, accordion-style binder with tabs for labeling might be just the trick. Organize by the category of the product while you're cutting, putting household cleaners in one section, dairy products in another, fresh produce in a third and so on. Place the ones that will expire soonest in the front of their sections. Then, before each trip to the store, pull the ones you'll need into the front section. This makes it easy to access them in the checkout line.
- Create space in your home for items you buy in bulk. You don't have to go overboard, but sometimes it pays to buy in bulk. If you will be stocking up on non-perishable items, it's wise to have the closet or pantry space ready to store them. And of course, make sure to check what you already have before you buy more - even if it is a great deal.
Manage your grocery and other coupon-driven purchases by opening a checking account online
Now that you know how to start couponing, it's time to see how much these couponing tips can help you save. With one account, like One Deposit Checking, dedicated to your coupon spending, you'll quickly start to see savings add up. Consider transferring your current budget for grocery, household and retail items to your account as soon as you get your paycheck each month. Then, use your debit card or unlimited check writing to draw directly from your designated checking account while you shop.
When you track the savings online and in your spreadsheet, you'll know exactly how much you saved per trip and can transfer saved funds to a different account at the end of the month using online or mobile banking. Before long, you'll see how starting to coupon has helped you save, and you'll be able to put those additional funds to use for your future or family fun! Talk to one of our representatives to learn more about checking and savings account options and how online banking can help you manage your spending and saving.