" . . . On average, the cheapskates polled say that they give nearly 5 percent of their income to charities (including religious institutions), which is well above the national average of less than 3 percent." - from The Cheapskate Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of Americans Living Happily Below Their Means by Jeff Yeager (New York: Broadway Books, 2010)
As a coupon user, you won't be surprised to learn that one of the "surprising secrets" to living below your means as outlined in the above-mentioned book is to use coupons. Author Jeff Yeager (who also wrote The Ultimate Cheapskate's Road Map to True Riches) highlights the benefits of couponing in his chapter on saving money when grocery shopping. He writes, "Cheapskates who are serious about using coupons are really serious about it. They scour the Sunday newspaper with scissors in hand, swap coupons with friends and neighbors, and download coupons online . . .They live for double and rarified triple-coupon days offered by some supermarkets, and they go berserk whenever there's a chance to "pair" or "layer" coupons with store specials and other deals. Another popular couponing strategy is to buy the smallest (i.e., least expensive) size of an item if the coupon doesn't specify the size, which can sometimes allow couponeers to get items for only pennies or even for free when the coupon is for a fixed amount off."
For more ways to get the most out of couponing, here are 10 tips to help you:
- Follow a blog. Some couponing blogs, like that of The Couponing Librarian, feature specific aspects of couponing. Others, including one of my favorites, www.dealseekingmom.com, are amazingly comprehensive but easy to use. Whatever aspect of couponing you're interested in, you will find a wealth of blogs.
- Sign up for e-mail/direct mail/Facebook/Twitter/mobile deal alerts/rewards programs/credit cards with your favorite stores. For additional freebies, provide your birthday. (NOTE: While signing up for a credit card can result in some great deals, do this only if you know you can pay off the balance each month.)
- Collect coupons or use coupon codes (applies to shopping via the Internet).
- Pair manufacturers’ coupons with store coupons and sales. Known as stacking, this strategy will work at stores like Target, CVS, Rite Aid, and Walgreens and will often get you products for free.
- Sign up for a drugstore rewards program. (e.g., CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid)
- Learn how to “roll” your drugstore rewards and split your purchases. “Rolling” refers to earning store rewards and then using them to purchase items that earn you additional rewards, so you spend very little money out of pocket.
- Shop store clearance sections. These sections are usually located in the back of the store, but walk around the entire department in which you’re shopping because clearance spots may be difficult to find or unmarked. Search through these sections regardless of what the “percentage off” sign indicates. You may find deals that are even lower than what is stated on the sign.
- Use social coupon sites. (e.g., www.groupon.com, www.livingsocial.com)
- Buy a coupon book. (e.g., Entertainment Book (www.entertainment.com), Our Town and All Around (www.ourtownandallaround.com), Enjoy the City (www.enjoythecitybook.com)
- Give back.