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Tania is currently the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of The Hudsucker and an Associate Editor at Womanista. With past writing credits as a freelance writer and journalist with Quietly, the International Women's Media Foundation (IWMF), and NBC News' Newsvine, she is currently a member of Indianapolis based, Society of Professional Journalists—one of the oldest organizations in the US that promotes and represents journalists. As a writer by vocation and entrepreneur by nature, Tania is a life long learner who enjoys traveling and meeting new people. She is an avid Indianapolis Colts, Elvis Presley, and baseball fan as well as a lover of pancakes and fine cheeses, film, and music. Tania is a Hoosier at heart with a passionate wanderlust for always traveling and road-tripping across the great United States. She is currently attending Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana and studying journalism. Follow Tania on Twitter: @westlifebunny.

A Beginner’s Guide to Effective Couponing

Coupons 01

{Image Credit: Karen Bleier/Getty Images}

Cutting coupons from the Sunday newspaper has fast become a relic of the past thanks to technology. With smartphones revolutionizing the coupon market, there has been a sudden surge in the past few years of mobile apps and websites helping you save money or earn cash and rewards back. Whether you are on a budget or just feel content with keeping more money in your wallet, learn how to become one efficient and chic couponer who will rule the supermarket aisles.

APP-ly yourself:

One of the most important things to start your reign as the “King/Queen of Coupons” is to download any necessary apps. Seeing as there are so many apps available, it is hard to decipher which ones are best to download to your smartphone. Ibotta and Checkout 51 are financial assets that turn your smartphone into tools for earning cash-back. Simple and extremely easy, users upload their grocery receipts after buying select items from a weekly rotating catalog and receive cash back either in the form of an online payment via PayPal (Ibotta) or a check (Checkout 51). RetailMeNot is one of the biggest apps that lets you easily access deals near you and save them to your account. With no need to print out anything, the app lets you show and scan your desired offers at the register.

That said, if you are still use to cutting coupons (or make it a family activity), try the SnipSnap app which is the first of its kind, allowing users to scan, save and redeem their printed coupons on their smartphones. Simply snap a photo of a printed coupon and SnipSnap magically recognizes text and images, converting your coupon into a mobile-ready offer to use. A great feature to this app is the extensive database of printed coupons that has you snipping to your own account for your own savings benefit.

{Image Credit: TechSuite}

The SAVE Philosophy:

The last thing you want to do when shopping either retail or grocery is to splurge on items you won’t be utilizing months ahead. Buying items that are not applied to your lifestyle can sometimes be considered easy money down the drain and that is the last thing you need. Shopping on a budget should be regarded as practical, so think carefully about things you can’t freeze or products with approaching expiration dates. Deals might seem great at first glance, but think about it practically: How many cartons of milk can you run through in a week if it expires in seven days? Think of the lumpy milk and turn away. Turn away!

When becoming an effective couponer, it is essential you remember what it means to really “SAVE.”

  • S: Is the item likely to be on sale again?
  • A: What amount do you truly need?
  • V: What is its real value without the sale?
  • E: Is this an expense you can afford?

Organization to the max:

Organization at checkout definitely helps in the long run, which is why a system needs to be in check if you’re serious about your reign. A helpful way to keep all your print coupons organized would be to contain them in trading card pages with tabs inside of a binder. Taking a binder with you to the supermarket might seem awkward, but if you have systematized every coupon, it should be a breeze when pulling them out at checkout.

Loyalty cards are an incredible way to save money in conjunction with print and mobile coupons, but with all the organizing, the rewards cards are often forgotten. Have no fear, CardStar is here! Available for an array of devices, this very awesome app is a useful tool for those who carry loyalty cards for every single store they visit each week. Without taking up valuable space on our key-chains or distracting us from digging through our purse at the register, CardStar keeps all loyalty cards in one place and lets you access deals, coupons and more from your favorite merchants.

A new routine:

When planning, be sure to assess the locations you are visiting beforehand. There is nothing worse than writing out your list, collecting your coupons, organizing by item and taking time out of your schedule to find out the aisles are empty. Determine the store with the best sales and rewards that allow coupons and loyalty cards, and then create a schedule for shopping in your agenda that is sometime after the release of new weekly prices and before the end of weekly sales. This way, you can organize and plan ahead for what you really need.

If something is off the shelf, be sure to ask customer service when they plan to restock or seek rain checks. Either or, take it slowly, work your way to multiple stores if need be and always ask what a store’s policy is on multiple coupons versus store coupons. Once you get into the grind of couponing, it will be easy as apple pie—that will probably also be on sale if you find the right coupon.

* * * * *

Presto, you are now well on the path to slaying the supermarket aisles with easy tips for saving money through couponing without it being a royal pain. For more tips and tricks, and plenty of coupons, check out the world’s #1 coupon site, The Krazy Coupon Lady and the very educational and resourceful, Couponing 101.

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