I have a confession to make: I’m not a consistent coupon user. At least not at the grocery store. If you search my blog for ‘coupons’ you’ll find I’ve posted a lot about other types of coupons that I use. But grocery couponing is just not a habit I’ve ever been able to cultivate.
Now having said all that, I do use grocery coupons occasionally. And I do have some thoughts about their use. What follows is from a post that I wrote on this blog a couple of years back called ‘My Rules for Coupon Use‘ . Re-reading it I find that it all still applies for me today.
1. I only use a coupon for something I was going to purchase anyway. I’m willing to change brands if it reflects a better deal but I won’t buy something just because I have a coupon and it seems like a good deal.
2. Whenever possible, I combine coupons with sales to maximize my savings. This is how drastically reduced and even free items can be obtained. I also combine manufacturers’ coupons with store coupons if that’s possible.
3. The price after coupon must be cheaper than the equivalent store brand. Very occasionally I have a product to which I am brand loyal and I’ll relax this rule a bit. Usually, however, I am willing to use a store brand/generic and I’ll go that route if the price is cheaper.
4. The price after coupon must be cheaper than I can buy the item elsewhere, i.e. a warehouse club. This is where my price book comes in handy. If I’m following #2 above I can usually beat the best price elsewhere, but occasionally not.
5. I watch my quantities. I stock up within reason but there’s no point for me to have 3 years’ worth of toothpaste sitting on my shelf. If we won’t use it in a reasonable amount of time, I resist the urge to buy multiples. I’d rather keep the money in my bank account or send it to pay down debt and wait for another deal to come along at a later date.
So, there you have it. Almost everything I know about grocery coupons. The point, I think, is to make sure coupons are working for you and not creating a lot of additional work with limited savings. Combined with other techniques like menu planning and using a price book, however, coupons can be an effective way to keep your food costs low.
The rest of the posts in this series: