Couponing: A Beginner’s Guide

According to a recent survey, 85% of Americans use coupons, whether in paper or digital form. In addition, 75% actually expect a discount on their purchase as opposed to paying full price. If you’re not yet using coupons because you’re not quite sure how it all works, here’s a quick rundown on everything you need to know to get started.

Where to Look for Coupons

There are a number of places to look for coupons these days, whether in paper form or online. Here some of the places you should be looking:

The Sunday paper — Probably the most “old-fashioned” way of couponing involves getting the Sunday paper and checking for coupon inserts. The cost of a subscription could very well pay off if you actually use any of the coupons. It just takes about an hour or less to look through them, clip them and stick them in your wallet so you have them handy on your next shopping trip. If you don’t want to commit to a subscription, you may be able to purchase the paper on Sunday mornings at your local grocery store.

In-store — Sometimes retailers apply adhesive coupons to their products that you can unpeel and use instantly. This encourages shoppers to use that brand as opposed to the neighboring competitor’s on the shelf.

Coupon websites — Some websites exist specifically for the sake of providing coupons that you can either print from the internet or load to your store loyalty cards.

Online promo codes — Promo codes are codes you enter during the checkout process when making a purchase online. A simple internet search for available promo codes could knock a few dollars or more off your bill.

P&G everyday — This is one of the best, most popular websites for couponing. In addition to printable and digital coupons, it offers tips for using products, handpicked offers and reviews to help you decide whether to purchase an item. Considering the number of name brands P&G has in its portfolio, someone could save a fair amount of money on their grocery bill by checking P&G everyday before a trip to the store.

Grocer websites and apps — In today’s digital age, most popular retailers have websites that allow you to download coupons (sometimes called eCoupons) to your store loyalty card. Getting into the practice of checking a store’s website or app before heading out on a shopping trip could be worthwhile financially. If you forget, there may even be eCoupons advertised throughout the store, so you can quickly log in with your smartphone, apply the offer to your loyalty card and save at checkout.

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Cash-back websites and apps — Look for “cash “back” websites, which can be great sources for getting rebates on your purchases. By using these sites as sort of a “middle man” when you make a purchase, you can save a significant amount of money.

With your receipt —Your receipt may be printed with a few coupons attached to it for products you bought that day, but for use during a future shopping trip. Always check your receipt before throwing it away.

Manufacturer websites — It takes a little bit of time, but if you make a shopping list and look up each of the manufacturers on your list, you may find that there are coupons for the product right on their website that you can print at home. You may have to provide your email, but that’s the only catch.

How to Organize Your Coupons

Coupons are worthless if you forget to use them during the checkout process. You need to make sure they’re readily available and easily accessible when you need them. The best organization method for you will depend on your shopping habits and whether you use more paper coupons or digital. Here are a few organizational tips:  

Store coupons in an alphabetized coupon organizer or a simple envelope instead of in a loose pile on the counter-top. Or you can have separate envelopes for each category (such as one envelope for refrigerated items, one for frozen items, one for produce, etc.).

Keep your paper coupons located with or nearby your shopping list. That way, while you’re making your list, you can skim through your coupons to see if there are any coupons for the products you intend to purchase.

Regularly weed out the expired coupons from your coupon pile. Having to weed through a pile of worthless coupons can make couponing frustrating and time consuming.

Use a site like P&G everyday that lets you organize your coupons online or digitally links them to your loyalty card where you shop.

For digital coupons from your store’s website, you should be able to simply put a check mark next to them and have them automatically linked to your loyalty card until they expire.

How to Get the Most Bang for Your Buck

Obviously, it is a smart choice to use coupons, but the most savvy shoppers take it even further. Here are a few tips for maximizing your coupon savings:

Scan your retailer’s website for sales, and see if you have coupons for any of the on-sale items for extra savings.

Make sure you have access to your coupons no matter where you are. Unexpected shopping trips happen, and you don’t want to miss a deal because you don’t have your coupons with you.

Shop at stores that reward you for using coupons by offering double-coupon days. They may have a limit as to how many you can use, but turning a $1 coupon into a $2 coupon can significantly reduce your grocery bill.

The amount of money that couponing can save you depends on how much time you’re willing to invest in it. In addition to using coupons, you should also investigate what the coupon policies are at the stores you shop at most often. Doing so can possibly you cut your grocery bill in half.

To Market: The World’s Best Local Bazaars

Visiting a city these days is about so much more than hitting up the same old tourist traps. Those looking to discover what foreign places really have to offer might find themselves wandering off the beaten track and directly into the heart of the best spot any city has to offer: The market. While the contents of each city markets can vary hugely, you’re pretty much guaranteed a great flavor of local life in each one you attend, whether it be food, culture or clothing centered.

Around the world, there are some markets which blow the rest out of the water and if you’re on the hunt for something really special, then you might want to refine your search a little bit. While these markets are by no means exhaustive, they do offer up a version of international life that is unlike anything you’ve ever tried before. Hold on to your shopping bags; things are about to get really interesting.

Borough Market, London

Foodies from across the world flock to London’s Borough Market, and it’s really not hard to see why. Located in a booming industrial hall, the market specializes in almost every type of cuisine, and is a great place in which to try something new. While twists on classic British food are widespread, you can also expect to find great variations on exotic foods, seafood, baked goods and local produce. The full market is open all day from Wednesday to Saturday, and is a great place to sneak to if you’re fed up of all of the crowded tourist dining spots. While it is almost always busy, it is for good reason and as long as you’re willing to fight for your supper, you’re guaranteed a plate of something interesting.

Kashgar Bazaar

Nestled at the intersection between Central and Western Asia, Kashgar is a real mix of cultural influences and to journey there is to experience a place unlike any other. If you really want to understand what it’s all about, however, you will make a beeline for the city’s mammoth bazaar, which is packed full of every type of product imaginable. Bringing together local food, trinkets, handmade goods and cultural items under one roof, the Bazaar is the perfect place to fully understand the myriad of local cultures that influence the place. Locals make their way to the market on Sundays to stock up for the week, so while the day can be incredibly busy, it is also a great window into Kashgar life.

Chatuchuk Market, Bangkok

Thailand is a city renowned for its street food and local markets and while there are a huge number of incredible spots around the country’s islands, there’s no arguing that Chatuchuk in Bangkok is the best. One of the largest markets in the entire country, Chatuchuk is also one of the most diverse and whether you’re hunting for handmade clothes, local food or cultural trinkets, you’re bound to find something incredibly unique. With stalls winding every which way in the market, it’s easy to spend hours simply wandering through the labyrinth, taking in everything on show. It might sound overwhelming but don’t worry; the market is broken up into themed sections, making shopping there much less intimidating.

Pike Place Market, Seattle

Of course, there’s a lot of great stuff going on elsewhere in the world and in some cases, you don’t have to journey too far to experience something extraordinary. At nearly 100 years old, Pike Place Market in Seattle is one of the oldest in the world, and has clearly perfected the market formula over the years. While there are a few “tourist friendly” stalls set up, the majority of things on sale are bought by locals, so the market is a great place in which to slip into community life. Fresh food stands attract large crowds, especially at the weekends, so if you’re in line to buy, make sure you have your eyes on the prize. While the market isn’t the biggest of its kind, it is one of the most diverse and shoppers there are bound to come away with something truly unique.

Stanley Market, Hong Kong

Quite possibly the most popular market in the whole of Hong Kong, Stanley Market is worth visiting at least once in your life. While it is located a little way from the center of things, making a trip there is more than worth it. On arrival, you can expect to be greeted by hoards of clothes, paintings, silks and local foods, all dotted around the many restaurants and cafes inside.

Easy Ways To Change Your Shopping Habits

While starting afresh is traditionally done at the beginning of a new year, there’s no reason why it can’t be done a few months down the line. More often than not, the trials and stresses of January mean that, by the time you’ve managed to recover from the holiday season, focus on work once more and re-route your way in efficiency, you’re far too exhausted to tackle any new task you set yourself at the end of December. Changing a significant part of your life can be best done once the dust has settled and you have time to give your all to the new project.

Being smarter with the way that we shop and spend money is something that many of us endeavour to do but in many cases, it is much easier said than done. With a lifetime of bad habits stacking up against us, we are often our own worst enemies when it comes to saving. Changing just a few small habits, however, can drastically change things up and before long, you might just notice a few extra pennies stacking their way up in your account. Just because you shop more smartly, it doesn’t mean that you can’t splurge from time to time.

Know Your Triggers

While we might aim to be sensible in the kinds of purchases that we make, there are certain areas in which many of us are helpless and, no matter how strong our resistance might seem to be, we just can’t help splashing the cash when faced with something we want. Identifying the areas in which you are more likely to spend money is a great first step in understanding how exactly you can avoid such impulse purchases. If shoes are your thing, try and avoid looking at shoe shops or online sales until you really need a new pair. Likewise, if you’re a sucker for makeup, make a list of the current items that you have and browse new purchases only when you’re sure you need a replacement. Avoiding what you can’t control is the first way to shop a little more carefully.

Change Your Routine

If you find yourself at the mall every weekend like clockwork, try changing up your routine to include new activities. Surrounding yourself with tempting purchases is one of the worst ways in which you can try to overcome your spending habits, so getting away from it all might just give you the perspective you need. You can try visiting friends, journeying to a nearby town or picking up a new hobby. Once you fill the gap that shopping once took in your life, you might be surprised by how much you don’t miss it at all.

Leave Before You Purchase

Although avoiding shops when you’re trying to save is a great idea, you will have to go shopping eventually and when you do, it pays to be smart about your approach. If you are looking to make a specific purchase, allow yourself sufficient time to really think it through before going ahead with it. Even if you find the perfect item, leave the store before buying it and come back an hour or so later. If you still feel the same way about the item, then you know that it is something that you genuinely want to buy; if you’re not sure about it, leave it and move on to something else.

Shop With A Specific List

Going out with only a vague idea of what you want to buy is a great way in which to get distracted and come back with arms full of shopping bags. While it might be hard at first, making yourself a specific list of items can be a great way of controlling your spending habits and only purchasing what you really need. If shopping lists like these don’t work for you, you can try taking out a specific amount of cash and leaving your credit cards at home. Shopping like this will mean you will only spend what you absolutely want to and won’t splurge on unnecessary items.

Take It Slowly

Changing all of your shopping habits at once might feel like a tempting idea but if you pile on too many techniques at once, you risk failing before you’ve even really begun. Habits take time in which to really take over and breaking old ones can often take even longer. Committing to one shopping method is a great idea in order to give yourself the time to get used to spending less and approaching your retail experience with a different head. The more comfortable you get with the new habits, the easier that picking up new ones will become!

What about you? Do you have any secrets about how to change your shopping habits? Comment below and let us know your best tricks!

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