I know we have all had that moment. You have a week until you get paid again but you’re already flat broke and you have to figure out how to pull a week’s worth of meals from $10 and the change at the bottom of your purse.You go back and go through your online bank statement and say to yourself: “I spent how much on food?!”All the coffee runs, fast food trips and happy hours added up a lot more quickly than you expected. Now what do you do?
Being on my own for the first time, I had to learn how to manage my money pretty quickly. I have always been good with money and consider myself frugal enough but I never had to actually pay bills since I lived on campus all through undergrad. I spent maybe $100 on groceries a month (dating someone has serious perks plus I’m always up for a free meal) but that was it. When I suddenly had to pay a cable bill, an electric bill, & rent plus figure out how to feed myself, I thought my head would explode. I have a job and my school refund covers the rent but it still wasn’t enough.
Soooo…I started seriously couponing! I say seriously because I used to occasionally coupon in college but I’m not quite as intense as those people with 6 carts & a binder full of coupons who get $2000 worth of merchandise for 91% off. I’m not a professional like them but I can save myself enough to afford a couple more cocktails at happy hour and that’s winning to me! In all seriousness, I save an average of $30 to $50 a month with coupons. That’s a lot since I’m only shopping for myself and it gives me a little flexibility money-wise even though I stash most of it in my savings account.
Start buying the local Sunday paper. Yes I know printed newspapers are basically obsolete but seriously! They only cost about $1 and the coupons in there will save you way more than that. Some places even have bundles with more than one paper which means more coupons! Yay! I spend about an hour flipping through the inserts and clipping coupons. It takes a little time and effort but it is worth it!
Pay attention to grocery store ads. Because we often don’t even buy the paper and companies don’t always mail their ads to everyone in the area we miss a big opportunity to price match! If an ad shows a lower advertised price than where you normally shop, your store will most likely match the lower price. This even applies to BOGO and other types of sales! Grocery ads usually come out once a week and many stores let you access it right from your phone. Always bring the ad with you if you are trying to price match. Check your store policy before you shop though because each chain and sometimes different locations do things differently.
Coupons.com. This free site is my favorite hub for coupons. There are coupons for food, drinks, household products like cleaning supplies and even personal care products like some over-the-counter meds and skincare products. You literally click to clip and they print right out in coupon form that you can use at the store. I especially like that they have the same coupons for extended periods of time which means my coupons don’t completely dictate my shopping list. I don’t have to buy contact solution TODAY because the coupon expires TOMORROW. I can print that coupon off and it won’t expire for a while. This isn’t the same for all coupons but most.
Coupons are not just for food shopping! Use an app like RetailMeNot and get coupons for things like clothes, car services and even take out as well! I pull up RetailMeNot before making any purchase be it online or in store. Even in store the coupon pops up right on your phone screen for the cashier to scan. I refuse to ever pay full price again!
Feedback is a cash cow! Every brand and company that you interact with wants your feedback, so they can learn how to keep you happy and in turn keep making money. Whether you like a product or not, had a good or bad experience with a product, go on the company website and send them your feedback. More often than not they’ll send you coupons in the mail for the product you review especially if it is a newer product they’ve recently launched. I had a bad experience with a tampon company (no tampon in the applicator…HOT MESS. Don’t ask.) and I complained to the company about it on their website. They sent me coupons that would make tampons basically free for the entire year. Don’t be dishonest looking for savings though! Even if you have a positive review, some companies will likely send you kickbacks too.
With all coupons remember to read the fine print and know the coupon conditions. It will make for a less stressful shopping trip and your cashier will appreciate you for making their job a little easier.
I hope this helps you save a few coins for that extra cocktail or maybe something pretty. However you choose to enjoy your new found wealth, I’d love to hear all about it!