Everyone loves a good deal. Collecting coupons can help you balance your budget and save big, but it can also eat up your time. To succeed at couponing, you’ll need to find a system that helps you get the most bang for your buck without spending all your free time searching for the lowest prices on your favorite products.
Coupons are everywhere
Coupons aren’t just for groceries. In fact, 74.7% of available coupons are for non-food items. Billions are distributed every year, and once you start looking, you’ll begin to spot them everywhere. The bad news? It’s easy to get overwhelmed.
Extreme “couponers” spend huge amounts of time accumulating and using them to amass major savings. While the money saved can add up, collecting paper or online coupons is a time-consuming hobby. It takes time to track down the deals you want or need, organize the coupons based on when you want to buy the product, and find the store carrying the item. You’ll also need to consider the additional time it takes to store the purchased items in your home.
With so many deals to be had, it can be easy to go overboard. The good news? You don’t need to resort to extreme couponing for it to have a positive impact on your budget. It’s easy to find coupons in print publications, on product displays, and posted on coupon-devoted websites. Grocery store websites even let you instantly load their coupons directly onto your loyalty card.
Couponing time management
Before you start hunting, create ground rules to help manage your time. Remind yourself that your time is as valuable as your money—maybe even more so. These tips can help ensure that the time you spend couponing is worth it.
- Clip coupons for products you know you will use and skip the ones you might not use. Clipping and sorting all of them to have “just in case” will eat up your time.
- Look for coupons for the brands you prefer. Buying a cheaper product and discarding it because you don’t like it is the opposite of saving money.
- Remember, a great deal doesn’t necessarily make it good for your family. For example, a pile of cheap candy isn’t a bargain in nutrition. Purchase products you approve of and skip the ones you don’t, no matter the savings.
- Acquire products that you can use in a reasonable amount of time. Stockpiling means time spent organizing what you bought.
- Hunt for coupons as needs arise. For example, if your kids need new jeans, look for a coupon to one of their favorite clothing stores.
- Be organized. Searching through your clipped coupons is a time drain. Set up a system so you can quickly sort and find them.
- As you file your coupons, weed out any that have expired.
Track your payoff
It’s just as easy to track your progress as it is to collect coupons. Create a timecard and keep track of the time you spend couponing for one month. During that same month, keep your receipts. At the end of the month, total up your coupon savings and divide it by your time spent. How much did you make an hour? Seeing the numbers can help you decide how much time you want to commit to couponing.
Even if being a regular “couponer” isn’t for you, occasionally using coupons for big and small purchases is still a smart idea. After all, any money saved is time well spent.