A few years ago, I was over-worked and under-paid. With my minimum wage job, it was difficult to buy even the bare essentials of shampoo, conditioner, laundry detergent, makeup, and food. After watching a few episodes of “Extreme Couponing”, I was amazed at the idea that people could get things for free just by clipping coupons. I decided- If these people can do it, so can I.
Fast forward a few years later, coupons have become such a regular part of my life, I hardly think about it anymore. Some people have this perception that it’s too much hassle and hard work to get into couponing, but the truth is that it is actually very easy. Once you spend a couple hours getting set up in the very beginning, should only take you 20 minutes of effort per week, which will translate into thousands of dollars in savings.
It is essential to stay organized from the very beginning of your coupon journey. If you don’t have a place to store your coupons, they will end up all over your house, car, purse, and wallet. Some people choose to have their coupons in a small accordion folder, which they take in and out of their purse. I personally use a three-ring binder with clear trading card sheets. I plan ahead of time which coupons I need for my shopping trip. I will keep my coupons in my wallet until I am ready to check out. Once the coupons have expired, I can clean up my binder in under 5 minutes.
Get The Newspaper Every Sunday
So, where do you get the coupons to fill up your binder? They’re all in the Sunday paper! The cheapest way to get the newspaper is to subscribe and have it delivered to your door. If you would rather buy it yourself, Dollar Tree sells newspaper for just $1 each. This is perfect if you know that there is going to be a particular sale that week, you can stock up on multiple newspapers.
Sign Up For Store Loyalty Programs
One of the best ways to save money while you shop is to sign up for a store’s loyalty program. More often than not, this will become essential for you to get something for free or cheap. My personal favorite loyalty program is with CVS Pharmacy. Their “Extra Care Bucks” are essentially gift cards that you can use to buy anything you want from the store.
They have a Beauty Rewards program where you get $3 Extra Care Bucks every time you spend $30 on beauty. Plus they have sales where you will get ECB’s back when you make a purchase. I mainly use this program to get free or very cheap laundry detergent, makeup, and hair care products.
Print Additional Savings From Coupons.com
If you do not want to buy the newspaper once a week, Coupons.com is a great option for you to get your savings from home. They almost always have the same coupons that you can find in the weekly circular, and so much more. Just download the app, or go on their website and select the coupons you would like to print.
Pro tip: These coupons print 3 per page. So you should keep that in mind if you want to save your paper. They allow you to print up to two coupons per item, unless there are limited quantities, where you will only be allowed to print one.
Check The Sales on The Krazy Coupon Lady
The key to getting items for cheap or free is to match up sales with coupons. This is the most time-consuming part of the process, which is why I skip all of the calculations and just go straight to The Krazy Coupon Lady. They make it easy to just click on the store where you plan to go shopping. For me, I go straight to the CVS section, and they give a break down of the best deals every week.
Download Store Apps
Many stores have an app that will help you save automatically when you have your phone scanned at checkout. This makes it easy to skip printing or clipping coupons completely. Target’s Cartwheel App is free, and you can get all of your savings in one place. You can also combine manufacturer coupons to save even more on your Target purchase. Curious how that works? Check out The Krazy Coupon Lady’s guide to Target.
Recycle Ink at Staples
Staples is an office supply store that is located in every major city in the United States. They have an ink recycling program where they allow you to receive $2 in store credit per cartridge after you spend $30 in ink every six months. There is a limit of 10 cartridges per month, totaling up to $20. Now, I know what you’re thinking- But I don’t use up 10 ink cartridges a month! That’s why I buy used ink cartridges in bulk from eBay. I got 300 cartridges for just $28.
After recycling the cartridges, they will e-mail you a coupon that you can print or pull up on your phone. So basically, I get a free $20 gift card to Staples every single month. (That’s $240 per year.) I use this to get free toilet paper, coffee, and cleaning supplies.
Shannon Quinn is the editor-in-chief of InspiringHome.org. She has written for multiple personal finance publications such as MoneyWise, Yahoo Finance, and The Penny Hoarder. She has also written for several YouTube channels; Biographics, Geographics, and TopTenz. You can find her full portfolio at ShannQuinn.com.