I’m not a huge fan of coupon clipping. I find that shopping store sales, buying produce in season, and stocking up when I find a regular household item at a drastically reduced cost are all more efficient ways to save cash. For instance, when I was at Target the other night buying school supplies, I noticed that the Mack’s ear plugs I buy — which I pay $6 for at CVS — are sold for $4 at Target. So I pretty much cleared Target out. I wouldn’t make a trip to Target just to buy low-priced ear plugs, though, if I had to pick up a prescription at CVS. All coupon fliers go straight to the recycling bin. It’s not worth the mental load to keep track of them. And I am not the only person doing our household’s grocery shopping.
But I have found one coupon trick that almost always saves me money. I buy a lot of clothes and other items online. Online retailers often have some sort of promotion going, but they won’t necessarily advertise it on the website. If you’re shopping online, before checking out, Google the name of your retailer and “coupon code.”
Often RetailMeNot is the first site to come up, but there are some other sites that aggregate coupon codes, too. You can see what promotions are going on and try the coupon code at checkout. I did this last week while making a photo book at Shutterfly. I Googled “Shutterfly coupon code” and found that there was a 40% discount lurking out there on the web that was expiring that day. I typed it in, and sure enough, the new price was 40% lower. Since I was buying fancy photo books as an anniversary present to my husband, I saved a fair chunk of change in 30 seconds.
If cutting coupons requires an hour of scissor-work on Sundays, it’s not worth it. If all you have to do is a quick web search, it probably is.
What’s the fastest way you’ve figured out to save money? What’s the most you’ve ever saved for time invested? To be sure, the $30 saved on photo books doesn’t come close to the total amount saved by negotiating the price on my car, or refinancing our mortgage when interest rates dropped, though $30/30 seconds is the equivalent of $3600/hour — which is more per hour than the $2000 I saved in one hour of research and negotiation on the car purchase.
Photo courtesy flickr user torbakhopper