5 Ways to Save Time AND Money With Coupons

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What's your hourly rate for frugal activities? Compare the money saved as payment for time invested, and you'll get an entirely new perspective on frugality.

The following post comes from Veronica Bowman at partner site The Dollar Stretcher.

Do you sometimes wonder if it is actually worth the time that clipping and using coupons and comparison shopping takes? If the hours of your day are filled with work and family obligations, you probably think you don’t have time for coupon clipping and bargain hunting. But if you divide the task into small increments of time, you may discover clever ways to incorporate coupon clipping and comparison shopping into your routine.

Have you ever considered how much clipping coupons, comparison shopping, and perfecting your frugal shopping skills pays? Just for a few moments consider the following ideas and you might be surprised to discover how much the hourly pay rate can be for practicing frugality…

  1. Start by keeping a coupon box handy to toss in coupons, sale circulars, or coupon booklets you find throughout the day or week.
  2. Take time to devise a coupon filing system that works for you. You only have to do this once and it will save you a considerable amount of time and frustration in the future.
  3. Devote 30 minutes once or twice a week to sorting, clipping, and filing the coupons.
  4. Spend 30 minutes once or twice a week searching for coupons online.
  5. Before you go grocery shopping, set aside 30 minutes to look through weekly sale circulars, make a shopping list, and pull out the coupons that apply to your list.

During an average week, you will have devoted about two hours to clipping and filing coupons, browsing sale circulars, and creating a shopping list. By using coupons, buying sale items, using store loyalty cards, and possibly taking advantage of rebates, you could save $25, $30, or possibly more on your weekly shopping trip. That translates into an average pay of around $12 to $15 per hour for the time you spent preparing for a frugal shopping adventure. While you won’t actually receive cash in hand in that amount, that is money that can remain in the budget and will be available for future use or savings.

I usually shop at local stores where I’m familiar with their sale cycle and can plan my shopping accordingly. However, once in a while, it pays to take advantage of great deals at a different store.

Recently, I knew I would be driving through a town with a different grocery store from those I usually shop at. I had acquired a loyalty card while passing by on a previous trip because I knew that at times this store offered great “buy 1 get 1 free,” “buy 1 get 2 free,” or even some “buy 2 get 3 free” deals. I spent about 30 minutes checking their circular online, going through my coupon file, and making a shopping list.

As it turned out, this store had items that I had free product coupons for but couldn’t find the product locally. Using coupons and taking advantage of their fantastic “freebies,” I bought more than $100 worth of groceries, pet food, and household supplies for $54. The return on the 30-minute pre-shopping time I invested was great.

Some of my best saving opportunities come from patiently waiting until stores with loyalty cards offer sales on items I have coupons for. For example, I will clip a coupon for $1 off $2.99 breakfast bars, wait for the week they are on sale as BOGO offers, and end up paying $1 per box. Using the strategy of combining store sales and coupons, I can easily increase my savings per shopping trip.

Not only are coupons helpful to the budget, so is comparison shopping. The time invested in reading customer reviews and comparing prices online for big ticket items can save you a lot of time and money by helping you make good choices.

Follow The Dollar Stretcher on Twitter.

Stacy Johnson

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