Saturday, June 11, 2011

Couponing Facts vs. Myths!

Originally posted HERE!

MYTH: Not worth the effort...Just buy generic!
FACT: Believe it or not, sometimes I would agree with you! Sometimes buying generic would be cheaper. The point is not just to use coupons, the point is to save money! Just because you have a coupon, doesn't mean you should use it. However, 9 times out of 10, when you strategically use coupons, you can buy name brand products for a whole lot cheaper than the generic would be. This is the part of couponing I find so much fun. I love getting name brand products for free or extremely cheap!

Again, you need to make coupons work for you, not the other way around. Stores and Manufacturers put coupons out there to entice you to come into the store to buy the products. If you are smart in how you use coupons, they can be a great tool to help you save a ton of money!

MYTH: There aren't coupons for items I buy!
FACT: You will be surprised what coupons are really out there when you know where to look. If you aren't finding coupons for the items you want in the newspapers or on the main coupon printing sites, check out the website for the Manufacturer of that product. Many manufacturers are putting coupons on their websites and facebook pages.

If you've looked everywhere and can't find a coupon for the product you are looking for, e-mail or call the Manufacturer. I heard somewhere (can't remember where) that 30% of the coupons that are out there, are there simply by request. Ask! Tell them how much you love their product and want to get it cheaper! I've done this and it is so much fun to find a stack of great coupons in the mail within the next week!

Lastly, be open to trying other brands. There are a few things I am still brand loyal to, but for the most part, whatever product I can get free or extremely cheap, is my favorite for that moment! My brand loyalty lies with the best deal!

MYTH: I can't go to 20 different stores each week!
FACT: I can't do that either! There is no way I would have time for that. Also, with 2 young kids, I would be crazy to try! Balancing coupons and making sure I am getting the deals at the store can be challenging enough with 2 kids in tow. Lately, I've been making my Meijer trip by myself. Wow! That's wonderful! :)

I would never tell you to shop at numerous stores each week. You don't need to either. My suggestion would be to pick 1 grocery store and 1 pharmacy that work well for you. I usually shop at Meijer and CVS each week, depending on the sales. Sometimes I don't go to CVS and sometimes I stop at Target or Kroger if they have some great deals going on. That's pretty much it. I usually go to 2 stores each week.

It can be overwhelming, when you start couponing, to learn all the coupon policies of every store. Don't try to learn them all. Just pick one and learn it well. Once you have that one figured out, then maybe move on to a pharmacy. Remember, you don't have to get every deal at every store each week. You will run yourself ragged trying to do that.

MYTH: It takes too much time!
FACT: I'm not going to lie to you and say that couponing doesn't take extra time out of your week, because it does. To use coupons effectively, there is extra time involved in organizing your new coupons for the week as well as planning out your shopping trip for the week.

I will, however, say that once you begin to understand how to coupon effectively and get yourself organized, you will probably spend roughly 2 hours a week . That's not too bad! Especially when you consider how much you are saving. It isn't unrealistic to save $75-$100/week. Do you know of any job where you can spend only 2 hours a week at it and make $75-$100? Not too many! The amount of time you spend on coupons each week is small compared to the money you are saving.

Also, with all the frugal blogs out there, the work of matching coupons with store sales is already done for you. All you need to do is decide what deals you are going to get, grab the coupons you need, and go to the store!

Not convinced yet? I would challenge you to spend any time you can find in your busy week to start couponing. See what you can save! With couponing, you will get out of it, the time you spend into it. Just start and see what happens!

MYTH: You end up spending more money using coupons!
FACT: Some think that since most of the coupons out there are for name brand products or the most expensive products, they would be spending more money using the coupons than not.

This can happen, but only if you let it. If you don't wait to use your coupons when matched with a sale, getting a great deal, this could easily be the case. My point, again, is make coupons work for you...not the other way around. Coupons can be an awesome tool to help you save lots of money, when you know how and when to use them.

Remember, you don't need to get every deal that is out there. When you are starting out, that can be very tempting, but it is a very good idea to have a budget. I plan to talk about meal planning and budgeting sometime in the future as well. I really believe these two things play a key role when saving money on your grocery budget.

So, be smart about how you use your coupons. You don't have to use every coupon you have. Use them to get the awesome deals that are out there!

MYTH: Couponing is very complicated!
FACT: I'm pretty sure that this is a big reason why many people don't use coupons. They think it is complicated to figure out how to do it effectively. Another reason is that sometimes people start to get into couponing, get overwhelmed, and quit.

I'm not saying there isn't some work involved in learning how it works and making it work for you, but it is not complicated. If you can add and subtract, you can coupon!

Nowadays, with the help of online blogs, couponing is even easier! There are so many helps out there for you. Don't be fooled into thinking that it is too complicated or overwhelming to even know where to start. Just start! Anything you save will be great motivation to learn more. Before you know it, you will be a super-couponer!

MYTH: Stores don't like couponers!
FACT: The truth behind this myth is that stores don't like couponers who use coupons incorrectly.

Stores love couponers! They are more valuable to them than other shoppers. Have you read the fine print on your manufacturer coupons? You store gets the money for the value of the coupon back from the manufacturer, plus and additional handling fee of usually $.08! That is great for them!

This is why they don't like couponers who don't use coupons correctly. If they don't catch you using a coupon incorrectly, they won't get the money back from the manufacturer and they are out that money. Be sure you play by the rules and build a rapport with the cashiers in your store and you will be a loved couponer!

Here are some tips to being the kind of couponer your store will love....

* Read your coupons carefully so you are sure to use them correctly.
* Don't try to use a coupon on an item you didn't buy.
* Don't try to use expired coupons.
* Be prepared and ready when you go to checkout. Have your coupons ready. Don't make your cashier wait while you pull out coupons and ask them if you purchased a certain item.
* Be kind and polite to your cashier.
* Build a rapport with the cashiers in your store

MYTH: It's overwhelming...I don't know where to start.
FACT: I understand that when you start this process of couponing it can be overwhelming. There is so much information out there.....Where do you start?

Many people who start learning how to coupon, become overwhelmed and quit. If you are one of those people, I would strongly encourage you to jump back in! Don't miss out on some great savings for you and your family!

One of the problems with this thought of couponing being overwhelming is that it gives you the wrong attitude. If you have the attitude that you will make this work to cut your budget, you will! If you think it's too difficult, you'll miss out!

Understand, you don't have to figure it all out right away! Don't try! Start small, but start! Make small steps...any savings is savings....celebrate even $5 in savings!

Here are some baby steps to work through as you start...

* Pick one grocery store and learn their coupon policies/sales well.
* Set a small goal of 3 deals per week.
* Get your newspaper subscription....maybe even 2!
* Select a frugal blog and sign up for their free e-mail newsletter. It doesn't have to be mine. Just pick one and use it to help do a lot of the work for you.
* Get familiar with a few online coupon providers.
* Get familiar with store websites that provide coupons. (i.e. Meijer/Target)
* Look online for manufacturer websites and sign up for their e-mail lists.
* Begin creating your stockpile.
* Watch your grocery budget decrease!

I am not suggesting doing all of these steps at once. That would be overwhelming. :) Just take them one at a time. When you get one figured out, start on another one. Each step will help you towards saving more money.

I hope I've motivated you to keep going. Again, every little bit you save is still savings! If you stop, that goes away. Trust me, when you start to figure it out for your budget, you will have fun! Keep it up and as always, if you have any questions, please contact me. Happy Saving!

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