Coupon Craze: How to Support a Family on a Tight Budget

Supporting a family and feeding multiple mouths can be stressful when you’re living on a tight budget. There are many ways, though, you can save a buck and put some extra cash in your wallet while still supplying your family with a smorgasbord fit for a king.

The days of extreme couponing are upon us, but this doesn’t mean you have to spend your days and nights clipping coupons from the newspaper. With advanced technology, store loyalty programs and online coupons, you can shop until you drop without breaking the bank.

Tips to Win the Coupon Race

If the thought of clipping coupons seems too inconvenient, the savings you can reap may change your mind. According to Fanny Seto, founder of Living Richly on a Budget, there are many strategies you can employ to keep that grocery bill low and your cart full, including the following:

  • Subscribe to several Sunday papers: Find out which Sunday paper has the best coupons, then subscribe to it. If you find that you get a lot of good coupons in it on a regular basis, consider getting multiple subscriptions to maximize your savings. But do this only if the cost of the subscription is offset by the amount of savings you get from the coupons.
  • Join the store loyalty program: Most stores have a loyalty program that is free to join. So there’s no reason not to join except that you’ll pay more if you don’t. Sometimes coupons are loaded onto your store savings card, like at CVS.
  • Stack coupons with store sales: You can also follow bloggers who do this. They spend hours matching up coupons with store sales to get the best deal. Don’t re-invent the wheel.
  • Get familiar with store couponing policies: Does your store allow double couponing or using more than one coupon per product? Find out. Each store has a different coupon policy, so it pays to know.
  • Be aware of the coupon expiration date and exclusions: Sunday paper coupons usually expire within 30 days. And with the popularity of TLC’s Extreme Couponing show, there are limits now on how many of the same coupons you can use per transaction and how many products you can buy with the coupon. Some stores, like CVS, place a cap on how many times you can take advantage of an in-store coupon or sale since the coupons are loaded on your card.
  • Shop at more than one store: The way extreme couponers are able to save 90% or more on their purchases is because they shop at multiple stores, multiple times. To save the most money, be willing to go to the store with the best sale for toilet paper. Don’t be loyal to only one store.
  • Plan out your shopping trips: Instead of just heading out to the store, plan ahead to see what’s on sale and which coupons you can use. When you have a plan of what to buy and which coupons to use, shopping trips will be faster and you won’t be stuck figuring things out at the store.
  • Use store rewards towards your next purchase: When you earn store rewards, use them to your advantage. Don’t lose them because they’re like store credit. Use them toward your next purchase, perhaps on items that never have coupons or never go on sale.
  • Print coupons online: There are some coupons that you’ll never see in the Sunday paper because they’re available only online, like at our database. Here are some other resources for printable coupons.
  • Follow your favorite brands on Facebook: Some coupons are available only on Facebook. Follow your favorite brands and be the first to know about special sales and exclusive coupons.
  • Buy the smaller size: It seems counter-intuitive to buy the smaller size, but extreme couponers know how to get the best deal. With the smaller size and a coupon, you’ll maximize your savings. The per unit price will be significantly cheaper than buying the larger size.

Yes, coupons are great, but don’t let it become an addiction where you buy something just because you have a coupon and it’s on sale, warns Seto. If you buy something that you or your family will never use, it’s wasteful and you’re not really saving money, you’re just spending money on things you don’t need. You have to ask yourself, are you buying things just because they’re on sale or because you really need them?

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