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Financial Wellness

Coupon Clipping is Becoming Obsolete—Do This Instead

Are you a couponer? With a little time and organization, coupons are a great way to save a little money on things you were already going to buy. As a shopper hunting for savings due to inflationary prices, they provide an opportunity for you to save. Your budget will benefit using coupons to get deals on everyday personal care and grocery items.

Traditionally, the routine would include scouring newspapers and adverts for coupon items you shop for. You'd then cut out little text boxes and hand them to the store cashier to get your discount.

But market experts realize that printable coupons are now out of favor, as the coupon industry has successfully transformed into an exciting digital world. Customers now find, look for, and use them online. No paper. No scissors. No getting to the checkout and realizing you left the coupons at home.

A snippet about e-coupons
Digital couponing has its advantages, but the industry's move from print to digital advertising takes a few different forms. Most stores will let you use their digital coupons in store, online, or with curbside pickup (where available). To keep up with the coupon landscape, consumers need some familiarity to keep tabs on all of the different digital methods:

  • Load-to-card coupons. Downloading digital coupons to your shopper loyalty card is one easy way to get savings. If you don't have a frequent shopper card at stores you frequent, you need to get one. These stores will send out coupons to cardholders for discounted prices. Or store sites will provide coupons to "clip" to your account. Just use your card at the checkout register to get the discount.
  • Mobile app coupons. Once you download a store's app, you'll create a profile and start clipping digital coupons to save them to your account. In many cases, just access them on your phone, and the cashier in the store will scan the code on the screen. In some cases, it's enough to just activate the coupon on your app.
  • Coupon codes. These convenient codes can be found on websites offering deals, and often on social media as well. It's enough to enter the code in the online check-out process, and your purchase amount will be decreased. In addition, these codes may be obtained in promotional emails received from retailers, various online coupon sites, through social media, or on a retailer's website.
  • Coupon and promo code apps. There are also apps like Honey or RetailMeNot that connect to search engines and automatically search coupon sites for the best deals and discounts.

Four tips for better couponing
Follow these tips, and you will be more efficient working with digital coupons.

  1. Match your shopping list with expiring coupons—Online coupons generally expire at the end of the calendar date shown.
  2. Don't buy items you otherwise wouldn't—According to a Consumer Report study, 63% of consumers buy things they don't need because of coupons or sales. Buy only what you need.
  3. Capitalize on multiple offers—Use a coupon in combination with a sale or a deal to double-up savings.
  4. Understand the fine printClick here for explanations of coupon phrases such as: "Limit of four…" or "Only at…" Knowing the rules is essential to unlocking your full savings potential.

A final take
A recent study of consumer spending showed the typical U.S. household could save $1,465 a year using coupons to purchase food, household items, entertainment, clothing, and more, lowering their household costs by 6.4%. That's $1,465 you can put in savings to build an emergency fund, put toward the cost of a new car or use to invest. It comes with just a little bit of diligence and simply being a savvy shopper.

Resources: The Washington Post, SaveMyCent, Krazy Coupon Lady LLC.