I’m sure I am not the only child of the 1980s who remembers their mom sitting on the floor, clipping coupons with her orange-handled scissors. She spent what seemed like hours clipping away, though I don’t really recall her using the coupons that she so meticulously cut and filed away. Maybe she did and I didn’t notice, because in those days people took forever writing checks at the store, so I was busy drooling over the Rolos in the checkout line while she paid for the groceries.
When Chase and I got married, I realized there are ways to get great discounts, without the scissors. As much as I love to save money, my time is worth more to me than clipping 50 cent toothpaste coupons out of the newspaper. Not to mention that getting the paper would create another issue: clutter!
Here are some tips to make coupons work for you, not the other way around:
- Coupon mailers. It may take a few minutes to look through the coupons that are mailed to your house, but Valpack, Clipper magazine, and other mailers are targeted to your local community. I usually bring the stack outside and flip through them while the kids are playing in the backyard. Just a few weeks ago, I saved $25 on a bumper repair (Chase backed into something). The company did a great job and we like giving money to a local business.
- Email updates from stores and restaurants you visit often. If you sign up for marketing emails, you’ll always be the first to know about sales and will receive exclusive coupons. I get weekly coupons from Fresh & Easy, which makes grocery shopping a bit more bearable. Some retailers even send coupons for free items on your birthday. My birthday is coming up and so far I’ve received free meals from Rubio’s and Panera, $10 off at one of our favorite Mexican places and free lip gloss from Sephora. Just remember to send the emails directly to your trash bin if you don’t need what is offered in the subject line. 30 percent off jeans that you don’t really need is not a bargain. Also, update subscriptions when you are no longer a customer. In my case, I don’t need Babies R Us email coupons, because I’m done having babies!
- Daily Deals. I’ve written about Daily Deals before and despite being overwhelmed by them at times, I still love them. Like the marketing emails, it’s important to manage your subscriptions and not get sucked into purchasing items you don’t need.
- Local fundraiser coupon cards or entertainment books. Many schools and other organizations’ fundraising efforts include selling cards or books that provide discounts at local stores and restaurants. Our kids’ future high school sells a card for that gives us great deals on local places we already frequent. The $20 card paid for itself in the first week on frozen yogurt alone, and it helped raise money for the school’s athletic programs!
In the past few years, even my mom has modernized her coupon clipping, without much prodding from me. I don’t think she misses her orange scissors, though I wouldn’t be surprised if she still has them.
Does anyone else still have those orange scissors? What do you do to save money without spending a lot of time? I’d love to hear your tips!