Hi Everyone. I’m Fran. When I need tips or information fast, I’m just like you. I'm looking for the same answers. But sometimes these things don’t always pop up, say, on your search engine of choice…I hear you. Looking for everyday tips for everyday life? Let's figure out how, together.
How many of you try to find ways that may save you a buck or two, especially if it’s easy? When I first thought of coupons, I used to think that it was pretty great to find $1.00 off something I would normally get, like band-aids or mascara. Over time, a new fund started to grow that I could use without tapping into my main budget reserved for bills and necessities. I don’t do the TLC Extreme Couponing thing at all. Nor do I match coupons to circulars. Instead, I use three simple steps for my fund and take a minimal amount of time in maintaining it. The real key to saving up like this is in achieving small goals. These goals include dining while on a vacation, a deposit on something you want to do, offsetting the costs of a hobby or paying off a bill balance. When you track your savings, you won’t believe how quickly your growing fund will add up.
This week, I’ll give you my* three steps for saving money through basic couponing.
1) Step One--Clip and Use Coupons:
- Begin with only clipping coupons for items you normally buy. Try not to purchase something just because it’s cheap or free if you know you won’t use it.
- Sign up for store loyalty cards (such as CVS ExtraCare, Stop and Shop, Waldbaum's, MyLowes, IKEA Family, etc.).
- Clip coupons from Saturday newspaper inserts.
- Trade with or donate coupons to friends, co-workers and family.
- Print off Internet coupons from reliable sources, often your favorite manufacturer or store sites. Internet coupon sites include Coupons.com and SmartSource.
- Internet coupons require you download a plug-in or an applet. If you are concerned about plug-ins or an applets, many brands link to PDF coupons which don’t require those plug-ins.
- Keep your coupons on you and try to see them like cash.
- I use a cute pencil pouch to keep my coupons in, but you can get creative with coupon folders or binders. It's also fun to make them themed to your goal(s).
2) Step Two--Other Savings:
- Follow a couponing or savings blog. A popular one is AllYou Magazine's Daily Savings.
- If you really like a particular company’s products, like Domino Sugar or S.C. Johnson a Family Company, take time to fill out their website’s "Contact Us" page. They love to read compliments and how their product has enhanced you or your family’s lives. They often write back...
- Sign up for free samples through your favorite store or company website. For example, Walmart and Target offer generous samples fairly often online. They almost always include coupons with the samples.
- Other savings you may not realize include the random 25% off, Friends and Family discounts or codes for free shipping. Also consider free products you may get from time to time. (For example, if you get a code for a free photo book, log the $29.95).
3) Step Three--Tracking a Growing Fund Created From Your Couponing:
- Track your savings on a spreadsheet or similar format. You can even use a notebook. Or you can leave this step out altogether if you don't feel the need to track the fund.
- I use Excel and set it up like an old bank passbook. I log the total amount saved on an online order or shopping trip each time, by looking at my receipt (like, 5/25/12 Shutterfly Photo Book +$29.95 OR 5/25/12 CVS/Pharmacy +$7.00).
- When my fund gets to an amount I can work with, like increments of $50.00, I then transfer that amount ($50.00) between my accounts until I reach my goal.
- Another option is to use a spreadsheet just to track the savings without actually moving the funds. I have done both depending on my goal.
- Whichever way you go, make sure to subtract each time you spend your goal(s) in the spreadsheet (like, 5/25/12 Home Depot Project -$275.00).
- As an example, let's say you set a savings goal to be $300.00 for a home project you always wanted to do. And let's say you save $7.00 on a given trip to CVS/Pharmacy. Log the savings on the spreadsheet each time.
- Say you saved the $300.00 in two months. You realize you only need $275.00 of that for the project because this time you are getting $25.00 off at, let's say, Home Depot. Subtract the $275.00 on your spreadsheet, and you will have $25.00 left toward the next goal, and so on...
- Now, sit back and enjoy what you ended up doing with your savings.
These steps may seem like a lot of work, but they are so easy and fast to do once you begin. Saving money like this allows you to make a distinction between paying your normal bills/necessities and for things you want to do or accomplish without cutting into your main budgets. It really is an easy way to save a buck or two. What will you do with your fund?
*I make the disclaimer that the above are my own tips and in following them, you may be subject to various Internet terms of usage. I am not soliciting or representing anything in the mentioned brands or provided links, but rather, giving you every day examples. If signing up, registering or joining with a site, please proceed with your normal caution. As always, read through all the terms or use, third party policies and do not feel pressure to provide any information you are not required to provide. If you are ever concerned about junk e-mail and snail mail, you can opt-out of communications using that company’s policy pages.