Living Frugally: Use Coupons and Save

I will be the first to acknowledge that I rarely use coupons. That is because I rarely go shopping, grocery or otherwise. My idea of shopping is realizing that I need something – or to be more honest, want something – then sitting down in front of the computer and heading over to Amazon. Love that Amazon Prime with the two-day shipping … ahh, but I digress.

This Living Frugally post was written in collaboration with Mrs. SavvyJames … she provided all the input and I simply typed and prepared for publication. Alas, she is the one who does most of the shopping in our household. I have been known to jet off to the store when she is in the middle of preparing a meal and realizes she needs another item or two. Generally however, I make every effort to avoid stores.

The first order of business is to choose a container to hold your coupons. A shoebox is used in our household. Other options include coupon wallets, coupon binders, or converted recipe boxes. At the end of the day it does not really matter which type of container you choose, as long as once you have clipped or printed your coupons, they immediately find their way to your container.

Speaking of printed coupons, long-time readers of this blog have likely noticed the powered by coupons.com placements around the blog. As an avid couponer, she likes the idea of being able to find and print specific coupons. Finding a coupon company to partner with was her idea and I believe it fits in nicely with the frugal aspect of personal finance and retirement planning. The process is incredibly easy. Simply click on any of the coupons.com images – located in most posts and over in the right hand column – find the product(s) you use and print the applicable coupon(s).

Next step, develop a filing system. Many shoppers organize their coupons by category (e.g. meats, beverages, dairy, frozen foods, cleaning items, pet care, baby and toddler, etc.) or expiration date. Try both methods and determine which works best for you. We file by expiration date and the system works well for us. We like this system because it helps maintain order in our coupon box, which leads to the next consideration, purging regularly. We typically sit down every second Sunday and remove expired coupons.

With your system established, you’re ready to go save some money. Before heading to the store, make sure you know exactly what you plan to buy. We all know that studies have shown that people tend to buy more than anticipated, or needed, when they shop without a list.

A quick digression. As Amazon Prime members – I told you we love us some Amazon Prime – we were fortunate to have a chance to buy an Echo last December during a preview period (at half the price which made it even more appealing). For those that might be interested, it just recently became widely available.

Anyhoot, one of the features we like best is the Shopping List. We simply call out, “Alexa [or Echo] add xxxxx to my shopping list.” With the associated app on our iPhones, or my wife’s Kindle, we can view/edit our list at anytime. Much more convenient than pen and paper. Anyway, digression over.

With your list in hand, go through your coupons and determine which can be used for the trip you are about to make. Stick to your list and use your coupons when you’re able. Voilà, money saved.

How about you, SavvyShoppers. Do you use coupons and if so, what tips or tricks can you offer?

James
 

James retired in 2005 after serving 21 years in the United States Army. During the latter part of his career, James' interest in personal finance was piqued based on his own experiences and observations of the way most Americans plan – or more accurately, fail to plan – for retirement and the difficulty many face in starting the process. His most valued education has been lessons learned from personal experience and through conversations with smart, savvy friends.

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