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Couponing is once again all the rage. Thank the slowly recovering economy, the rising prices of food and fuel, or even cable channel TLC’s reality show “Extreme Couponing.” No matter what the reason, couponing has become serious business for those looking to save serious money.
Even if you’re not willing or able to invest the man-hours necessary to become a “hardcore couponer”—some of whom claim to save hundreds or even thousands of dollars a month—armed with a few simple tips, everyone can pay a little less. Resident couponing expert and Millbury Savings Bank Loan Servicing Supervisor Kelly Roy offers advice for finding coupons and getting the most out of them.
Find the best deals
Scour the Sunday paper. It’s still one of the easiest and best sources for coupons on widely used products, and if you’ll use a good percentage of them, buying two, three, or even four papers for their inserts may make financial sense. “I also ask family, friends, and co-workers for their coupons after they’ve looked through them, too,” says Kelly.
Search manufacturers’ websites
Manufacturers such as Proctor and Gamble, General Mills, Kraft, Purina, Dove, and Nestle, often provide offers for free samples or coupons right on their websites for you to download and print. “Sign up for their e-mails, and be sure to “Like” them on Facebook or “Tweet” to them on Twitter for even more specials,” Kelly recommends. However, she also recommends setting up and registering with a separate e-mail address in case you wind up inundated with junk e-mails.
Tell companies how much you enjoy their product and don’t be shy about requesting free samples and coupons. “The company who makes a certain over-the-counter medicine I take sent me two weeks’ worth of free samples, saving me $10 or $12!” Kelly says.
Join couponing sites
Popular sites like Groupon.com, SmartSource.com, CouponMom.com, ShopAtHome.com, CouponNetwork.com, StockpilingMoms.com, Coupons.com, and Eversave.com offer coupons and links to other special deals. But Kelly cautions that there are scam sites out there, so you have to be careful. “Whatever you do, don’t pay to belong to a couponing site, and don’t provide credit card or Social Security numbers if asked for them,” she warns.
Maximize your savings
Combine coupons with sales.
“Using a coupon when the product is on sale, a technique called ‘stacking,’ means you can get the product for the lowest price possible or, in some cases, free,” Kelly says. She also suggests signing up for the rewards cards offered by each store, which save you money and may give you access to more specials.
Seek out stores that double coupons
Some stores still double certain coupons, particularly those with a face value of less than $1. As of the publication date of this article, Goretti’s Supermarket in Millbury, Price Chopper, and Shaw’s are three such stores. However, it’s worth reading online or asking when you arrive about the store’s coupon policies. “You’d hate to get there with a bunch of coupons and then find out they have a store policy against accepting them all,” Kelly warns.
Don’t go overboard
It may seem obvious, but buying something you won’t use or buying more than you need just because you have a coupon will defeat the purpose. Jokes Kelly, “My daughter made me promise I won’t be on ‘Extreme Couponing’ one day hoarding 125 bottles of BBQ sauce!”