Many of us want to make the most of our money. We want more bang for our buck, or we want a way to reduce expenses so that we can save money. This is only natural. Looking for ways to save, though, can be maddeningly unnatural.
One of the first things you hear when you’re trying to figure out how to save more money is that you should use coupons. Indeed, from vacations to groceries, many people suggest that you clip coupons (or find them online) if you want to save money. It’s become one of the go-to methods of saving money and making the most of what you have.
While clipping coupons can save you money, the reality is that you don’t always need to use coupons to save money. I have a hard time using coupons myself. While I use major coupons — like $10 off or 20% off — on items that I am likely to buy anyway, it’s hard for me to get excited about spending a few hours clipping coupons for 50 cents off a tube of toothpaste.
If you’re like me, there are other strategies you can put into play to truly save money — without the need for coupons.
Evaluate Your Purchases
One of the best things you can do is to evaluate your purchases. For some, couponing leads to buying items that they wouldn’t normally buy. If you are using coupons as an excuse to purchase something you wouldn’t normally get, you aren’t really saving money. Instead, you are making up a reason to spend more money. The fact that you save $1 doesn’t change that.
Conscious spending can help you avoid this issue. Instead of spending just because you have a coupon, take a step back and think about the purchase. What will you use it for? Does it make sense for your family at this time? Do you need it? Is it something that will enhance your quality of life?
One of the best ways to truly save money is to stop spending it. Plus, if you only spend on what truly matters to you, it will help you feel better about your finances and your life.
Look for Sales
You don’t need coupons if you look for sales. Pay attention to the sale cycles of certain items. You’ll notice that every few months, the same items go on sale. Observe these cycles, and you can stock up for what you need. If you notice that toilet paper goes on sale every 10 weeks, you buy enough toilet paper for 10 weeks (or maybe 11 weeks, to be safe) when it is on sale. Then, when you are running low and ready for more toilet paper, another sale will be on, and you won’t have to pay full price.
You can employ this strategy with a number of items, from canned goods to seasonal items. I use semi-annual case lot sales to stock on non-perishable staples for my pantry, and freeze meat and cheese after buying it on sale so that I don’t have to worry about whether or not I can find a coupon. Pay attention to when things are likely to go on sale, and you will be far more likely to save money in the long run.
Do Your Shopping Online
Another tactic is to do your shopping online. For some items, you can save by getting a price online, and you might not even have to pay shipping. It also doesn’t hurt to look for a promo code related to what you are buying, or where you are buying it. That way, you can get a little extra savings. The nice thing about looking for a promo code after the fact is that you are looking for savings on something you already plan to buy. You aren’t getting suggestions from the coupon; you are looking for savings on something you already have in your cart.
It can also help to use the Internet to set up a subscription to some items. Amazon, for example, has “Subscribe & Save”. I use this feature for some of my cosmetics. I get a discount on the items I subscribe to, and that is a great help to me. Plus, I don’t have to worry about “forgetting” to buy something, since it shows up like clockwork. One of the worst things you can do is run out of something you buy regularly, and then be forced to buy it at full price when you can’t even find a coupon.
There are other subscription services that can help you keep your costs down, and keep you from spending extra on multiple trips to the store to pick up things you might have forgotten. I like to use Blue Apron to help with my meal planning and shopping, and there plenty of similar services that can help you manage your shopping online, without costing you an arm and a leg.
While coupons can be a way to save a little extra (and there are times when every little bit really does help), they aren’t the only way to save. In fact, if you don’t like the idea of coupons, there are plenty of other places to turn if you want to save some money. With the right planning, you can save money without the hassle of coupons.