By Jason Feller
When many people think about couponing, images of crazy couponers pop in their head and immediately either scare them off or turn them off. Fact is, though, you can become an effective budget shopper without having to go to such lengths.
Put aside all the extreme couponing dramatics and there are five key couponing habits that will help you save money, without forcing you to make huge changes to your lifestyle or feel uncomfortable.
Plan Your Big Purchases
While you might not be interested in going to the extent of planning every single purchase even down to those under a buck the way hardcore couponers do, you should consider adopting some of their principles when you make big purchases. Any time you buy something that is going to cost a good chunk of your pay check, it is smart to put a comparable amount of time into planning that purchase.
Whether it’s a big screen television, a major appliance, a piece of furniture or especially a car or house; you’d be wise to do the proper research and plan before moving forward. Pick a couple of different options that you’d be happy with and then do some price comparisons. Figure out the best time of year to shop for that item (for example, televisions are a great Black Friday buy, while furniture is a good Labor Day purchase) and keep an eye out for any promo codes (if you are getting the item online) or printed coupons that you might be able to use.
Download the App of the Stores You Visit Most Often
Most major stores have a mobile app nowadays. This is especially true for the stores that you are likely to visit most often for everyday items: Target, Walmart, CVS, Walgreen’s, local grocery stores, etc. The beauty of those apps is that most of them contain coupons that you can pull up right on your phone and present to the cashier. It’s so simple you can even just open the app while waiting in the checkout lane and see if any of the products you are about to buy have a coupon. Doesn’t get much easier than that.
Always Search for a Promo Code Before Making an Online Purchase
It doesn’t matter if you are making an impulse buy online or have had your eye on something for a while, you should never complete the purchase without checking first to see if a promo code is available. It’s as simple as typing the name of the store where you are shopping and the term promo code into Google and hitting search. Give yourself 2-3 minutes to see if you can find any valid codes and then move on. Won’t work every time, but on those occasions it does you’ll be saving money with minimal effort.
Don’t Be Afraid to Pull the Trigger on a Great Deal
Couponing takes courage, but it usually pays off big time. If you are knowledgeable enough about a particular item and know you’ve just come across a killer deal, then trust your instincts and get the item. Amazing bargains don’t come around often, so you don’t want to pass them up when you find one, especially if it’s for something you want. Waiting will likely cause you to spend twice as much when you inevitably buy it later on.
Leverage Your Situation
If there is only one habit from this list you decide to adopt, this should be the one. There are so many discounts available that require no coupon, code, sale or anything beyond being yourself. Students, seniors, active military, military vets, AAA members, the list goes on and on as far as who can score discounts at restaurants, stores and attractions across the nation. Oftentimes you can get discounts based on where you work or where you live as well. Just ask to see what discounts are available when you make a purchase and if you happen to fall in one of the categories, collect your savings and be on your merry way.