My mom has always been a huge couponer. I would even go so far as to call her a money-saving freak. Please understand, I love my mom—truly I do—but until quite recently, I simply refused to go out of my way to save money by using coupons when I shopped.
My reasons were quite simple—childhood shame. My mom would send me to the store with a stack of coupons loaded into an envelope. Often they were in no particular order (i.e., older expiring coupons would be buried beneath coupons she had just clipped that morning). As a typical out-to-lunch teen, I would head to the store with the best of intentions, and not a small amount of performance anxiety, and try my very best to a) pick only perfect produce, b) use the exact right coupon for every item in my cart, c) use up each and every coupon I could based on what Mom had added to that week's shopping list.
Inevitably, I would fail at all three. I would come home and immediately receive a thorough performance review, as Mom browsed through my bags pointing out various failures. She didn't mean to be mean. I know that now. We were a one-income family, and she just wanted to make every penny count. Once I became financially independent I spent many years avoiding coupons like I avoided poison ivy and spiders. I, too, was a one-income family (of me and me), so this wasn't because I couldn't have used some extra cash. It was pure coupon-related post-traumatic stress disorder.
Then (since I knew a lot about saving money even if I wasn’t doing it myself!) I began writing for Krazy Coupon Lady. I started by submitting a few guest pitches, and then I came on board as a KCL freelancer, and suddenly I found myself surrounded by smart, savvy shoppers who had all kinds of reasons for choosing to use coupons and all kinds of approaches to do so. Also, since joining the KCL community, I have discovered there are lots of different ways to save with coupons, rewards points, cash back and more. So I can now coupon PTSD-free!
For me today, couponing is no longer about standing in line shuffling scrunched-up pieces of paper. For instance, I can use my smartphone (I love my smartphone) apps instead and look like a speedy, organized pro. I can use coupon codes to shop online, where I have all the time in the world to decide and no foot-tapping, glaring customers shifting impatiently in line behind me. I can coupon or not as the day's time and funds demands dictate, but it is my choice today, not the choice of an over-anxious, under-performing 16-year-old who can never quite save enough to make Mom really proud.
My top 3 favorite ways to save through couponing
So far this year I have saved $265.02 through just these three programs alone (and these are not the only three programs I use). The moral of this story (for me at least) is this: We can each find what works for us, for reasons known only to us, and use the money we save towards whatever it is we need or want it for. Developing a couponing strategy is very personal, and today, the strategy I use feels really good to me!
1. Loyalty club coupons
- Why? I have no anxiety when using these. I joined a club and I am a "loyal customer," and everyone knows that we loyal customers are a retailer's bread and butter. I present these coupons at the register with pride.
- Last loyalty club coupon I used? This is geeky I know, but I am a total, lifelong sucker for Baskin-Robbins. I will drive several miles out of my way (wasting expensive gas and Kroger fuel rewards savings in the process) to visit one. Recently I redeemed a Baskin-Robbins “free cone” coupon (mint chocolate chip, like always).
- Savings? $1.98
- Find out more: https://www.baskinrobbins.com/content/baskinrobbins/en.html (Find "Birthday Club" midway down the page and just enter your email address.)
2. Amazon Visa Cash Back Card
- Why? I love shopping on Amazon because I never feel rushed and I can read customer reviews and price-compare to my heart's content. With my Amazon Visa I get 3% rewards on Amazon purchases, 2% on gas purchases and 1% on everything else—plus, 100 points = $1 in savings which I can choose to apply to future purchases. It’s brilliant!
- How much I've saved so far this year? $88.59
- Find out more: http://www.amazon.com/rewards
3. Kroger Fuel Rewards Program
- Why? I am so crazy-in-love with this program!! All I have to do is do my shopping at Kroger (where my Kroger Plus card + in-store promotions saves me bundles) and then head out to the nearby pump and get my gas. Since I loathe pumping gas, being able to just pull my car into the nearby station is also ideal.
- How much I've saved so far this year? $174.45
- Find out more: https://www.kroger.com/topic/fuel-program
This is a post by Shannon from Texas. If you’re interested in sharing your couponing story, please send your article to Contributors@TheKrazyCouponLady.com.