If you live in a big city like New York, you might find that learning to coupon and saving money from week to week can be a daunting task that may keep you from picking up this money-saving hobby. As a big city dweller myself, I know first-hand how challenging couponing can be for those of us living the city life. I’ve had to develop my own techniques to save; here’s what I’ve learned:
1. Stick to the nearest drugstores first.
For many of us city folk, access to grocery stores may be limited, especially because most of us don't have cars in the city, and we rely on buses and subways to get around. While grocery store shopping might be out of the question at first, drugstores like CVS and Walgreens are abundant in the city.
2. Search for your closest stores and map out a route that lets you coupon at least once a week.
3. Instead of a coupon binder, separate coupons into envelopes.
Taking an entire coupon binder with you will only encumber you more and may cause you to buy more than you can carry home.
4. Bring a backpack for your haul.
5. Relearn how to grocery shop and go for larger supermarkets.
Once you've learned the basics of couponing, consider your options for grocery shopping. In my neighborhood, the small grocery store is overpriced and has terrible weekly sales and options for couponing. Instead, I searched around and found a much larger store with better deals and cheaper prices. Although it wasn’t within walking or reasonable subway distance, I made it work.
6. Trade couponing tips and fuel rewards with a friend who owns a car.
I just recently bought a car, which has made grocery shopping easier. Before, however, I had a friend who didn’t mind driving me to the store under the condition that I would help her save money on groceries as well. I was able to barter the fuel rewards I was earning, but wasn’t using, along with couponing tips. My friend was happy to taxi me around if I was saving her money on gas and groceries.
Tip: Consider a car service like UBER if your grocery trip savings will be worth it.
7. Reorganize your apartment to make room for a stockpile.
If Rite Aid has an incredible deal on shampoo, but you have to buy six bottles in order to get them for free or close to free, you should still take advantage of the deal. If you have a tiny apartment, seriously consider buying small shelves for your cabinets or free-standing cabinet space. Storage boxes that slide under your bed work well too. Get creative with the space you have, and spend an afternoon getting organized—it’ll be well worth the money that you’ll save once you start couponing.
8. Skip the newspaper subscription and buy Sunday papers at the corner store.
Personally, I don't have a newspaper subscription. I've found that the delivery system in big cities is flawed, and I also don't want to risk people in my neighborhood taking my paper. Instead, I buy my papers from a corner store (or bodega, if you're a New Yorker). Not all of the Sunday papers come with coupons, so make sure you look before you buy.
9. Keep the free weekly circular packets delivered to city residents.
In New York City, weekly circular packets are delivered to residents for free, and these packets contain coupons! Look around for them; my neighborhood gets them on Fridays. They will have all of the drugstore and grocery store circulars for the week in addition to the coupon books. This is great because, in addition to free coupons, you will also have physical copies of the circulars to have on hand for reference.
10. Talk to your neighbors.
Ask your neighbors if they keep their weekly circular packets, and offer to take them off their hands. You’ll save a ton of money and not have to worry about an accumulation of newspapers you’ll never read!
This is a guest post by Brett W. from New York, NY.