9 Tips – How To Maximize Your Couponing Preparation & Goals for 2017
Couponing is both a great way to save money AND a fun hobby – but are you getting the most out of it?
The truth is, couponing is more than clipping and redeeming. To maximize your results (in terms of savings and fun) you have to include a healthy dose of preparation and goals. Make some plans, set some goals, and you’re bound to enjoy couponing success.
To get you started, I have created a list of ideas that will get you prepared and focused on couponing in 2017. Whether you’re an old pro or just starting out, you’re bound to find a few new things to try in the list below.
- Scope Out Coupons In Advance.
Coupons do not have to catch you by surprise anymore. In fact, there are multiple ways that you can find out about coupons in advance, which can help with preparation.
For one, there is already an insert schedule, which will tell you what inserts will be coming out each week in 2017. Print the schedule so you know when to expect a SmartSource (view here) or a RedPlum (view here), and which weeks won’t have any coupons
A second way to scope out coupons in advance is to take a peek at an insert preview. Using the insert preview will help you decide if it’s worth buying the paper – and if so, how many copies you should buy.
- Learn About Sales Before They Start.
You also don’t have to let sales catch you by surprise. Store sale information is leaked prior to the sale, and there are multiple ways for you to find out ahead of time.
Upcoming flyers may be posted on your local store’s website – usually you can find them online one or two days before the new flyer sales start.
Or you can sign up for your favourite store’s newsletter. My closest grocery store is Sobeys and I receive their flyer, including extra Club Sobeys coupon savings, in my email one day prior to when the sales start.
Find out what items will be on sale ahead of time, which will allow you to gather coupons in advance and make a grocery list at a convenient time.
- Use Cash Back Apps
Couponing has gone “digital” with cash back programs available on your smartphone and pc. These programs offer new weekly savings, bonus offers and extra rewards for simply uploading your store receipt.
Check for participating items and purchase them at any grocery store. Then you will receive cash back after you have reached a minimum pay out point ($20 f.e). We post weekly updates for these cash back apps, including Checkout51, Snap Saves and Cartsmart on DealsScoop.com here.
- Try Meal Planning.
If you plan out your meals for a full week ahead of time, you’ll make it really easy to create a shopping list. But it can go both ways too – that is, you can also let the coupons you have and the sales you’ve discovered help you create your weekly menu.
You can take this a step further by saving your weekly menus and reusing them in the future. Consider this: if you take the time to make 8 weekly menus, you’ll have two months of ideas on hand. You can then recycle and reuse these menus in the future, and even choose a menu plan based on the current weekly sales.
There are many great websites that offer free or paid menu plans. When searching for them, it’s important to find a quality site with recipes from a nutrition expert. Each meal should contain nutrition facts and serving sizes. Stay away from meal plans that do not include servings, calories, fat and sodium content etc.
EatRightOntario, developed by Registered Dietitians of Canada is an excellent site to get started. I use it all the time to develop personal meal plans for our family.
- Subscribe to Newsletters.
In terms of learning about store deals and printable coupons, your best friend is the Newsletter. Take some time to explore stores and blogs and subscribe to a few of your favorites to get the inside scoop on weekly deals and printable coupons as soon as they come out.
Want to subscribe to our newsletter? You can do that here.
If you don’t want to clog your personal email with extra newsletters, just create a second email account to use just for things like this. Then when you have some “me” time throughout the week you can go in and check out what’s hot in the couponing world.
- Determine How Much.
Aimless couponing, while fun, won’t help you achieve much. If you REALLY want to save money for your family you need to make specific goals.
Couponing goals can take many forms. Perhaps you want to save a certain amount per week or per month. Perhaps you want to cut your grocery budget down to $X. If you make a specific goal it will help keep you focused and motivated to reach it.
- Keep Track of Savings.
Another really great way to motivate yourself (and your entire family) about couponing is to keep track of your savings.
Get a notebook or create a spreadsheet file. Make columns for things like: Date, Store, Amount Before Coupons, Amount After Coupons, Amount Saved, Percent Saved. You can typically find the information right on your receipt, or with a few simple calculations.
Take a few minutes after shopping to fill out the information. This is sure to become your “Brag Book” in no time.
- Have a Stockpiling Goal.
Stockpiling is the practice of buying extra items when there is a really good price (or good coupon) and saving these items for later. It makes financial sense, and some people find that their stockpiles are real life savers when times get tough and the grocery budget is low.
Think about the sort of items you’ll want to have in your stockpile, and a good location in your house (if you don’t already have one). Make a list and when you see those items at a good price, stock up and build the stockpile of your dreams. Just keep in mind the expiration date and have realistic expectations of how much of a certain product is actually required in your household.
- Reward Yourself.
Sometimes we save with coupons because money is really tight and it would be hard to pay the bills without them. Sometimes we save with coupons just for the joy of finding a bargain.
Whatever camp you’re in, find what wiggle room you have and make goals to reward yourself and your family for your couponing success. You may decide to save X% of the couponing savings for a family vacation, or you may decide to reward your family with a pizza and movie night once you’ve saved $100.
Make some goals about rewards, because you deserve it.
Hopefully this list has given you some ideas on how you can up your couponing game this year. Add a little preparation and goals into you’re couponing life, and you’ve got a recipe for savings success.