Whether due to the struggling economy or the sudden popularity of reality shows featuring extreme couponers, more families are turning to coupons to save money on their groceries. The pros make it seem so easy to snag the best coupon deals, but the truth is that there is a steep learning curve. Here are three tips to keep you from making rookie mistakes while you are still learning the ropes of couponing.
Not All Deals Are the Right Deal
If it is your first time to get into couponing, there is the temptation to snag every deal you possibly can- especially if it is free. If you use good coupon strategies, you can build a substantial stockpile very quickly. The key to building that stockpile is to fill it with items that your family actually uses. A dozen bottles of free shampoo may seem like an amazing deal, but is it really a deal if your family hates that brand of shampoo and won't use it? You can find a number of great deals on convenience foods, but is it really in the best interests of your family to stock up heavily on chips and candy?
You Can't Feed Your Family on Freebies Alone
Free items are the "Holy Grail" to coupon users. Not only are you saving money, but there is the sense of personal satisfaction in being able to score a really good deal. But if you are only buying these great deals, the odds are that you aren't meeting your family's nutritional needs. There are coupon users that can live off of their extensive stockpiles and never buy anything that isn't a fantastic deal. If you are just starting out, you probably aren't at that stage yet. You are still overwhelmed by the word "free." Build your stockpile but remember that you still need to buy the other items your family needs- even if you have to pay full price.
Failing to Organize
Yes, your mind is sharp as a tack, but everyone forgets things and trying to remember all your available coupons puts unnecessary stress on you and your shopping trip. Sooner or later, you'll make the mistake of missing out on a coupon because you were waiting for the item to go on sale and thus get a doubly good deal. Keep a coupon binder and organizing it by product type or shopping aisle, whatever works best for you. Use small sticky notes for special exclusions and other information you might overlook during your shopping trip to save you from having to read the fine print every time you shop.
Don't Let Saving Money Steal Your Life
Most people new to couponing start by following popular coupon websites and blogs. These sites post hundreds to thousands of deals per day. If you try to snag each and every deal, when would you spend time doing other things that you love like taking care of your family and pursuing other interests? Many consumers treat couponing as a hobby but like every other hobby, it can easily consume you. The key is to remember why you are using coupons in the first place. Most people use them to save money so they can spend more time with their family. Is taking an entire day driving to multiple stores to get good deals taking precious time away from your family?
Coupons can help you save money and meet your financial goals but it can be bad for you if it becomes an obsession. If you are new to couponing, keep the above tips in mind to ensure you won't become an unhealthy couponer. Being selective about your deals and not letting coupons take over your life is the key to getting big savings while still maintaining a healthy perspective.
Jessica Bosari is a freelance writer and blogger for various publications and her own blog. You can read more of Jessica's work here. If you have any comments or questions about SavingTools or about saving money, leave your comments in the form below or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks!