Since I've been sharing with others what I've been doing with coupons, I've heard some of the exact same objections over and over. For example,
"That's good for you, but I still think Costco is cheaper."
"Do stores know you're doing this? Isn't using a lot of coupons and sales the same as stealing?"
"This really sounds far too complicated and I'm too busy for that."
I recently sat down and was able to come up with 11 such myths and misconceptions that I've heard on more than one occasion. I thought it might be a good idea to explore each of these in a little more detail over the next few weeks. So if you're new to couponing, maybe I'll win you over. And if you're an old pro, maybe you'll have some new responses for people you encounter that are skeptical of what you're doing.
Today I'd like to focus on a comment I've heard frequently and in fact, just heard yesterday from the cashier as I was making my weekly purchase of newspapers. She said, "yeah, I look through those inserts every now and then, but there's never anything in there I actually use. I wish they'd make coupons for stuff folks actually buy."
So here are some points to consider if you're in agreement with that remark:
- Collect many coupons over many weeks. On any given Sunday, the coupons may not be so great – or there may be none at all. Don't give up. Continue to buy the paper each week. There are different trends during different seasons of the year and as you go, you'll notice your coupon stash start to round out.
- Don't limit yourself to the Sunday inserts! I've mentioned this before, but certain items – such as dairy, produce, and meat – may be more regionally priced. For deals on these items, look at store circulars for their own coupons and promotions. Good deals can still be found!
- Think beyond your weekly shopping list. Part of the problem may be you make your list of 20 items and then go looking for coupons. To help see the bigger picture, consider listing ALL of the products your family uses over the course of a year. Then work on buying those items when they are on a low price – even if you don't need the item right then and there. For instance, a couple months back, I found some great deals on cough drops. While no one was sick in my family at that moment, I'm glad I stocked up. I came down with a cold just a week ago and was happy to NOT pay full price for those items!
- Become loyal to saving money, not to certain brands. The goal of couponing is to save money. So if brand X pasta goes on sale for $0.25 a box, you'd buy that and not brand Y pasta which you'd pay $1.50 for. Of course, don't stock up on brands no one in your family likes. Experiment when certain brands go on sale and see if you like them. I've found some wonderful new products and food items I wouldn't have tried otherwise! And if you simply must have a certain brand and aren't seeing any coupons popping up for it, consider joining their mailing list or visiting their website. Many manufacturers now offer printable coupons directly from their websites.
- Don't get hung up on having to use EVERY coupon. I only use a small fraction of every coupon I clip. But that doesn't really bother me because the ones I do use save me so much money. If your'e curious how much money coupons saved me in February alone, read my post from last week!
Today as I was reflecting on the cashier's comment, I decided to list up everything that I had purchased recently at a tremendous savings using coupons as part of the transaction. I wonder if she would've seen this list if I could've changed her mind:
- Diapers, wipes
- Hair care – shampoo, conditioner, stylers, hair dye*
- Tinfoil, freezer bags
- Razors, shaving gel*
- Paper products – TP, tissues, paper towels
- OTC medicines and remedies of all kinds*
- Feminine products*
- Tooth care – toothpaste, whitening kits, mouthwash, toothbrushes*
- Body care – soap, body wash, lotions, facial cleansers*
- Household cleaners and fresheners*
- Dry and canned goods – soup, rice, pasta, sauce
- Meat – frozen chicken, ground beef, sausage, bacon (even my T-day turkey was free!!!)
- Dairy – milk, yogurt, sour cream, cheese of all kinds, eggs
- Produce – fruits, veggies, nuts, salad mixes
- Baking goods – flour, sugar, seasonings, salt, baking powder, yeast
- Organic items – canned goods, cereals, frozen goods, soups
* These items I frequently find for cheap, free, or better than free (e.g. you make money!)
So what exactly am I missing? What exactly are the items that "folks actually buy"? Even if there are glaring omissions, don't you think by saving in these other categories you would reduce your overall grocery bill so you can more readily afford those other items? Consider couponing for just one month and see if you can't find at least several good buys on items your family already uses on a regular basis. Common', I dare ya!
Photo credit Junior Gomes