Printable coupons, newspaper circulars, Catalina coupons, special promotions, offer codes, store loyalty cards, Groupons, mobile coupons - you name it and people are using it. It's gotten to the point that you have to purchase a new handbag & download 17 new applications to your iPhone just to hold all of your "savings". Is it worth it?
I'll admit that when someone starts to discuss how they left the commissary with $200.00 worth of groceries for $24.36 my heart skips a beat and I feel like "I can do that!" How amazing would it be to save that much money? But then, my reality sets in. I hit the store and walk away with a 7% savings and wonder why I did all that work.
The practice of couponing seems so mysterious and impossible yet I see that it can be done. Admittedly, after a few unsuccessful trips my inner military spouse kicked in - you know the one that just has to have an answer - and I decided I would find out just how this system works.
I asked a lot of questions of coupon bloggers and gurus. What I learned in my research - other than the amount of time and energy that has to be put into couponing is taxing - is that this is no joke and there are definitely tips and tricks of the trade. Yes, I call it a trade. I believe that those that "extreme" coupon do it for a living/income replacement. I can say without hesitation that this is a new and blossoming form of entrepreneurship. The money they save in coupons they have "earned" by doing their home - "work". Matching prices, coupon stacking, clipping, stockpiling, and other techniques used by these entrepreneurs is not easy and it is definitely time consuming. Unfortunately, I don't think I possess the time, energy, sanity, or extreme organizational skills that it takes to save like that - let's be honest - I lack the passion.
Still I - like you - love to save money for date night, new shoes, family vacations, and ultimately retirement. Fortunately for the rest of us, couponing isn't a matter of all or nothing. Coupons can still give you super savings while being easy to use. The trick is to find what fits into your lifestyle and your family schedule.
It is important to find the balance between the time it takes to coupon and the money you can save with them. You may have to give up your dreams of $200.00 for $24.36 and settle for $158.94. But hey, I won't judge.
Here are some resources to get you started:
- Top 5 Coupon Websites according to Smart Money - Coupons.com, CouponCabin.com, CouponMom.com, RetailMeNot.com, and SmartSource.com.
- Identify a coupon blog like FreeCoupons.com or TheKrazyCouponLady.com that does Match Ups - these are blogs that match current coupons to your choice of store making your research that much easier.
- Many groups are offering coupon webinars, online courses, or training events. Do a little research and see what you can glean from some of these free resources.
- Subscribe to your local (the biggest city near you) Sunday newspaper. The cost of the paper is completely cancelled by the plentiful coupon inserts.