Are Coupons Worth It? 10 Tips to Save With Coupons

are coupons worth it tips coupon savings

Whether you're part of the 85% of Americans who already use coupons or you're just getting started, you may wonder, "Are coupons worth it?"

Saving money is a good thing, but when it's a time-consuming process, that saved money isn't as valuable. Your time is worth something, so spending hours figuring out how to coupon can cut into the savings.

Anyone can save money with coupons, even if you just use them for certain things. You don't have to do extreme couponing to make it worth your time.

If you're not sure how to make couponing worth your time, check out these 10 tips. 

1. Use Multiple Sources

Do you only think of clipping coupons from the Sunday paper at the mention of couponing? The paper is still a good source of coupons, but you can find them in many other places, too.

Online coupon sites let you print coupons at home to take to the store. You can add the coupons that you want and only print those ones to save ink and paper.

Digital coupons are also an option. Many retailers send coupons directly to email subscribers. Sign up for email lists to your favorite stores and brands to get those coupons sent directly to you.

Once you're at the store, look for physical coupons there. Some manufacturers stick peel-off coupons onto their products. Check the packaging of your favorite products to look for those coupons.

Some stores position coupon dispensers near items. Watch for those dispensers as you shop.

You may also find store coupons in the ads for specific supermarkets. If you don't get the ads mailed to your home, look for extra copies in the store.

2. Know the Price Points

Being aware of the typical prices for the items you use the most helps you spot a deal. It's best to use your coupons when products are at their lowest price point. This saves you even more money.

If you have a coupon for $1 off toothpaste and it's normally $3.50, you'll pay $2.50 for it with the coupon at regular price. But if you find the same toothpaste for $2.75 at a different store, you'll only pay $1.75. You maximize your savings by applying coupons at the lowest price of the item.

Start paying attention to the prices of your staple items. Compare prices at different stores, so you can use the coupons at the stores with the lowest prices.

3. Apply Coupons to Sale Items

A similar trick is to use coupons when items are on sale. When the new grocery ads come out, sit down with your coupons. Match up the deals in the ads with the coupons you have on hand to get more savings.

4. Combine Savings

You can also maximize savings by using coupons with other deals. Your favorite store may have a loyalty program that offers discounts, credit, gift cards, or money back when you buy certain items.

Check those offers to see if they match up with the coupons you have. It's even better if the item is on sale and has another discount offer.

Store coupons are another source of savings. They're offered directly through the store rather than being manufacturer's coupons like you find in the paper.

Most stores allow one type of discount per item. That means you can't use two manufacturer's coupons on a single item, but you can use a store coupon and a manufacturer's coupon on a single item. Or you can use a coupon and get cash back through the loyalty program.

5. Download Apps

Several apps offer coupons or cashback for purchases at the grocery store. Ibotta and Checkout 51 are examples.

Some stores have their own apps with coupon offers. The Target Circle app offers deals on many items in the store, and you can use manufacturer's coupons in addition to those deals.

6. Save Online With Coupon Codes

Think you can't use coupons when you shop online? Most online retailers offer coupon codes to help you save money.

You simply enter the code when you check out online. The discount gets taken off of your total, so you save that money instantly.

Coupon codes may be for a percentage off or a certain dollar amount with a minimum purchase. Other coupon codes give you free shipping, which cuts your overall cost of shopping online.

7. Don't Buy Things Just to Use a Coupon

It's tough to pass up a good deal, so you may be tempted to use any coupon that saves you a lot of money.

But you're not really saving money if you're buying something just to use the coupon. You're spending money you wouldn't otherwise spend since you wouldn't have purchased the item normally.

Coupons are only good deals when you use them to buy things you'll actually use.

8. Be Flexible With Brands

You'll have the best chance of saving money if you're flexible with the brands you purchase.

Say you need peanut butter and you normally by Jif, but you have a great coupon for Skippy. The coupon makes the Skippy peanut butter significantly cheaper than Jif. Going with a different peanut butter brand allows you to save more money through couponing cost-cutting.

Be open to using different brands if you find a coupon for something you need.

9. Get Multiple Copies of Coupons

When you find a really great coupon on something you use regularly, snag as many copies of the coupon as possible. Ask everyone who gets the newspaper to save the coupon for you.

If it's an online coupon, print as many copies as the site will allow. You can also ask other people you know to print copies of coupons on their computers for you, or use your public library.

Never photocopy coupons, as that's illegal. 

10. Check on Store Policies

Each store sets its own coupon policies, so it's a good idea to brush up on the rules at your favorite stores. Find out if your favorite store price-matches other stores in the area. This allows you to get the lowest price possible when using your coupons without running to multiple stores.

Some stores accept competitor's coupons. If another grocery store has an in-store coupon, a different store may honor it.

Ask about rainchecks, too. If an item is on sale but out of stock, you may be able to get a raincheck for that price. When it comes back in stock, you can use the raincheck and your coupon to get the best deal.

Are Coupons Worth It?

The answer to, "Are coupons worth it?" depends on how much effort you want to put into couponing. Anyone can save a little money even with casual coupon use, but you'll save even more when you use these coupon tips. Check out the rest of the blog for more coupon and financial tips that can help you live better on a frugal budget.

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