Couponeering in 7 Easy Steps
Long ago, in the days of our ancestors, saving money meant hours bent over a kitchen table, scanning through newspaper inserts and snip-snip-snipping until your hand cramped up.
Then the internet came along.
Now, getting a coupon is as simple as a few taps on your phone. But are you truly maximizing your savings? Are you squeezing every last penny you can from these deals?
If you’re doing everything on this list, you just might be…
1. App it up
Kendal Perez (@HassleFreeSaver), savings expert with CouponSherpa.com (@CouponSherpa) says that “A big complaint among would-be coupon users is how time-consuming they are to find, clip, and store, and how frustrating it is when you inevitably forget them on the kitchen counter.”
Perez advises that “Downloading a coupon app like Coupon Sherpa ensures you never leave home without savings, whether you’re shopping at a national store like Kohl’s or Macy’s, or looking for local savings from your favorite hair salon or auto repair shop.”
To learn more about some great deal sites and apps—including Coupon Sherpa—check out our blog post: 8 Great Deal Sites to Save You Money Today.
2. Get Googling
Benjamin Glaser, Features Editor with DealNews (@DealNews) recommends that you “Always do a web search for coupons for the store, brand, or item before buying something online. For example, if you’re buying a Craftsman saw at Sears, Google ‘Craftsman coupon’ and ‘Sears coupon’ to see if any are active.”
“I often find active coupons that apply to items I was going to buy anyway,” says Glaser. “Don’t forget that DealNews has more than just sales and price drops—we list thousands of coupons too.”
3. Newsletters are the future
“If you are having a tough time finding coupon codes for your favorite stores or brands,” says Glaser, “be sure to sign up for their newsletters and follow them on social media for exclusive coupons, and download the apps of stores you shop often. Certain stores will send you a coupon right away if you sign up for their emails.”
Not signing up often means missing out on these offers altogether, as “some of the coupons sent to email subscribers may be one-time use codes, which means the code is generated to be unique to that subscriber and can only be used once,” he says.
“At other times,” Glaser adds, “clicking through a link in the store’s email is the only way to get the discount. As such, you generally won’t see these offers listed on coupon and deal sites.”
4. Price match to the max
Nationally-recognized consumer and money-savings expert, Andrea Woroch (@AndreaWoroch), urges people to “Always make sure to compare prices whether shopping online or in-store, using sites like PriceGrabber or the ShopSavvy app so you never overpay.”
Woroch also points out that “Some stores will even price match a competitor’s coupon so make sure you keep it handy and ask customer service about their policy.”
5. Get tricky
“Most retailers, restaurants and service providers offer new-member sign-up coupons and freebies,” says Perez.
But what if you’ve already signed up and gotten that new member discounts? It’s pretty much a one-time thing, right?
“If you want 15% off your purchase from West Elm but are already on their e-newsletter, sign up with a different email address for access to the discount. You can use Gmail to filter all your email accounts into one interface so you never miss a deal!”
6. Read the fine print
It doesn’t matter whether you’re using a coupon or taking out a loan, this advice is always, always something you should take to heart.
“Make sure you know the rules before you use a coupon,” says Glaser. “If a coupon isn’t working, make sure you have entered it correctly.”
He also says that you should “Make sure your order is eligible. If the coupon is something like ‘30OFF30‘, it might be 30% off purchases of $30 or more, so your $25 order might not apply.”
Lastly, Glaser advises that “If multiple coupons are available, consider which is the best for your order. For example, if one coupon provides free shipping, and another cuts 10%, figure out which will save you the most on that particular order.”
“Better yet,” he says, “try to find coupons that ‘stack’, or can be applied at the same time.”
Speaking of which…
7. Get your stack on
“Many stores allow you to apply coupons on sale merchandise,” says Woroch, “and consumers overlook this extra savings opportunity assuming the discounted prices is the best deal available. Stores that frequently promote sales on sale items with coupon codes are Pottery Barn, The Children’s Place and many others.”
Woroch adds that “Some stores even let you use two coupons on the same purchase so it’s always worth trying to save more with double deals. For instance, you may use a free shipping code along with a 20% off offer. Use these with sale merchandise and you’ll score a triple discount!”
According to Perez, “One of the sneakiest ways to deepen the discount of coupons is to combine them with discount gift cards. You can purchase gift cards to retailers, restaurants, service providers and everyone in between for less than face value, with savings ranging from 2% to over 25%.”
“I can currently buy two $50 Kohl’s gift cards for $88, or 12% off. My $99 order of women’s sandals (with aforementioned promo codes) would only cost me $88!”
Have some tips or apps that help you coupon better? We’d love to hear about them! Let us know on Twitter at @OppLoans. And while you’re at it, give our contributors a follow as well—their feeds are great resources for savings tips and personal finance advice.
Benjamin K. Glaser is Features Editor for DealNews, covering the intersection of culture, media, and technology. He joined the company in April 2013 and is based in Brooklyn. Responsible for long-form content ranging from product-buying guides to market-trend analysis, Benjamin maintains the DealNews brand’s distinctive, reliable voice. In his free time, Benjamin loves binging on Netflix comedy series and finding the best burgers and pizza in New York.
Kendal Perez is the Savings Expert for CouponSherpa.com, a popular source for online, in-store and grocery coupons. Her money-saving tips are often featured on Bankrate, GOBankingRates, US News & World Report, Wisebread and more. Kendal can be found on Twitter @HassleFreeSaver.
Andrea Woroch is a nationally-recognized consumer-savings expert, writer and TV personality who is dedicated to helping Americans find simple ways to spend less and save more without sacrificing their lifestyle. She is a regularly-featured contributor for popular shows like Today, Good Morning America, FOX & Friends and KTLA Morning News. In print and online, her advice has appeared in popular media such as New York Times, USA Today, Money Magazine, Cosmopolitan, People, Consumer Reports, Reader’s Digest and many, many more. Read more about Andrea at AndreaWoroch.com or follow her on Twitter.