Tips and tricks for couponing beginners

Written by Neal F. Litherland. Posted in Pennies Saved & Pennies Earned

Published on December 21, 2011 with No Comments

Have you ever been sitting in front of a cable television show and you see average people who, with the proper time and determination, have managed to get an entire month’s worth of groceries for pennies?

People who can walk into a chain store at the mall and walk out with half a wardrobe of new clothes for a couple of bills from their pocket book?

These people are called couponers and what they do isn’t magic.

All it takes is a careful look at what offers are on the table and access to as many coupons as possible so that you can always get the best deals no matter what store you choose.

If you clip out any coupon and look at it you’re going to see the big flashy numbers and colors first.

The section below is where you really need to pay attention.

The fine print is what can make the difference between saving a couple of bucks and getting a brag-worthy deal.

Most of the time you’ll see the phrase “this offer not valid with other discounts or offers.” What that means is that if you use any particular coupon that has that phrase in the fine print you can only use that one coupon.

Of course if you don’t see that phrase that means that what you have is a building block for an even better offer.

Now let’s start with an example.

Say that you have a coupon that’s good for $10 off of a purchase of $10 or more. If that coupon doesn’t have that magic phrase that says you can’t combine it with another offer it means that you could buy something off the store’s discount sales rack, or something that’s already been marked down and get that price reduction in addition to the $10 off. As a result you could get a brand-new, $30 leather belt for $4 and change (one of my latest purchases).

But where do you find these coupons so you can start piecing together your great, money saving offers?

Well, you need to check everywhere. You can start with the fliers that come in your mail that give you coupons, but that’s just the beginning.

You can also purchase coupon books, or keep an eye out for local fundraisers that sell coupon books (you usually find these being sold through high schools and athletic programs). You can also go online and check for coupons on the home pages for any store or chain that you’re looking for a deal on. You can also go to places like to check and see what offers are out on the web.

Of course the wider afield you search, the bigger the deals you can get.

All you need to do is to put together a combination of coupons and offers that are not mutually exclusive to include the biggest amount of savings. You can save on big purchases as well as little ones, on clothes and meals out, groceries and anything else that has a coupon. All you have to do is keep your eyes open and make sure you make a habit of using your coupons and keeping them on you so that saving money becomes an instinct rather than an inconvenience.

There’s only one big pitfall that comes with couponing and that can be that sometimes you can’t pass up a deal because it seems too good to be true.

Just because you can get something that you don’t need for $5 when it would normally be $35 doesn’t change the fact you didn’t need it in the first place.

Knowing how to get the best value for your money is a skill that’s second only to being able to really separate what you need and what you don’t when it comes to your budget.

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About Neal F. Litherland

All opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Chronicle. Neal Litherland is a Valparaiso resident who has been a freelance writer for several years. A graduate of Indiana University, he holds a Bachelor's Degree in Criminal Justice. He offers advice on money-saving tips using common-sense tactics. He welcomes suggestions and comments. Contact Neal:

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