Coupon Clipping: How to Know What's Worth Keeping
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A Beginner's Guide to Savvy Couponing
How many coupons have you saved, then forgotten to use? We're guilty too. Kathy Spencer, author of How to Shop for Free, and Melea Politis Johnson, author of Create Your Own Money-Saving Adventure, offer tips that will help you hone in on coupons you’ll actually use — plus other savvy saving advice.
By Nicole Cherie Jones
Is a Coupon Worth Clipping?
You need to ask yourself the next two questions.
Is It for Something You Use Regularly?
If it is, score. If not, you should probably skip it. Otherwise, you may end up spending money on something you don't want or need (the opposite of saving money).
Does It Offer Significant Savings?
When you're busy, keeping track of a 20-cent coupon is probably not high on your priority list. But if you can save 50 percent or buy one, get one free, and it's a product you use frequently, it can be a great opportunity to save money while trying a new brand. Even better: Match good coupons to sales at your grocery store and you could save up to 75 to 100 percent (making the item free!).
Still Not Sure What to Keep or Toss?
Scan sites like Coupons.com, Redplum.com or Smartsource.com to see what coupons are available in your area. Also, many coupon bloggers like Spencer (howtoshopforfree.net) and the women behind thekrazycouponlady.com dedicate their sites to highlighting the best coupons they find in inserts or online, and most of them are searchable, so you can easily cross-reference with your shopping list. If you get inserts, you can file the whole thing by date (rather than cutting out individual coupons) for easy access if a blogger highlights something you want to use.
Where Should You Look for the Best Coupons?
Check the Sunday edition of the newspaper. In one year, you'll see about $8,000 worth of coupons, says Johnson. You can typically call your newspaper and request to get only the Sunday or weekend edition, and some areas even offer special deals just for couponers.
Don't Have Time to Cut and File?
Organization is the key to actually using coupons, but cutting and filing can take a lot of time and effort. If you don't have time to organize paper coupons, try going digital. Many grocery stores have an online coupon page and an app that will allow you to select eCoupons, then instantly add them to your shopper's card so they are deducted at checkout. "Using digital coupons is probably the No. 1 way I save money other than traditional coupon clipping," says Johnson. Another option: Download a new rebate app like Ibotta, Shopium, Topcashback or Checkout51 to do the dirty work for you.