There are some very common misconceptions about coupons that have led a lot of people to ignore the incredible amount of money they could be saving every day.
It goes something like this: Coupons are what moms cut out or they're used by the elderly and people who don't make much money.
In reality, that couldn't be any less true. Wealthy people don't get rich -- and stay rich -- by wasting money. Anyone who has spent years building personal wealth would likely tell you that it's simply foolish to pay more for something when you don't have to. And these days there are so many easy ways to save that it almost takes more effort to not do it.
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An Internet Retailer report found that 66 million digital coupons were redeemed by U.S. shoppers in 2013 -- with 2.3% of the 2.9 billion coupons generated (both digital and print) being redeemed by consumers that year. And since then, the numbers have increased, with more digital coupons being generated and more people redeeming them via desktop, tablet and mobile.
So it's time to get that old school image of a crazy couponer holding a giant binder out of your head. If you've got a smartphone, the savings are right at your fingertips -- most often for free -- and require very little effort on your part as the shopper.
How to maximize your savings with coupons
With so many coupons out there every day, how do you know which ones will get you the best bang for your buck? There are a couple of key strategies that come into play here.
1. Never buy anything at these stores without a coupon
There are some retailers that offer so many ways to save, you should pretty much never buy anything at those stores without a coupon. Here's a list of retailers that offer the most coupons -- basically guaranteeing you a way to save on any purchase:
To find legit, up-to-date and useful coupons for these retailers, check out deal aggregator sites that pull in the best offers from around the web. You can also use our Clark's Deals page to get coupons, daily deals and more money saving strategies.
2. Use price comparison & coupon apps
Whether you know what you're looking for or simply browsing, price comparison and coupon apps are a great way to get last-minute savings -- both online and in stores. By downloading a few of these free apps, you can find the lowest prices available on specific items, compare online offers to prices you find in a store and even download any available coupons before you head to check out.
Here are some to try:
- Free apps that find you the best prices
- App that allows you to compare prices while in a store
- Use grocery coupon apps that provide instant savings
Read more: 15 ways to cut your grocery spending in half
Apply the best saving strategies
Making a few changes to your shopping routine can also save you big bucks -- both now and over time.
So in addition to using coupons, here are a few more strategies to help you save when shopping for yourself or your family.
1. Change where you shop: Check out non-traditional channels like warehouse clubs, dollar stores, Aldi and Walmart for big savings on groceries and other items you may be purchasing at the grocery store at a higher price.
2. Buy in bulk: For all non-perishable items and other household staples (toilet paper, paper towels, toiletries etc.), buying in bulk can save you a ton of money, especially if you're buying for a family. Check out warehouse clubs like Costco, Sam's Club and BJ's to get the best bang for your buck on bulk purchases.
3. Don't buy new: You don't have to painfully rummage through thrift stores to buy used. There are tons of easy ways to save these days when it comes to buying second hand. Here are 9 things to always buy used and where to shop for them.
4. Buy generic: When it comes to general debate of store brands vs. name brands, depending on the store, the store brand can be just as good -- or even better -- than the more expensive name brand. Check out this report from Consumer Reports on the best store brands out there.
5. Buy items when they're on sale: You can save a lot over time by stocking up on the items you buy regularly when they are on sale. If one of your favorite items is marked down -- and it will last a while (or you can freeze it) -- then buy a few. Another great strategy is to tweak your meal plans around what's on sale. By working your weekly menu plan around what’s on sale, you can easily cut grocery spending by 30% or more.