As a single mother with one income, Coupons almost single-handedly effect how I make my shopping choices. Almost everything I buy is on sale. I cringe to have to pay full price for anything. It is silly to do so when a little research, a printer and a pair of scissors can be the beginning of a beautiful savings journey.  The Sunday paper and emails from companies and stores I have signed up with are often like Christmas presents at my household.  We use coupons for almost anything we can think of. I even have coupons for the thrift store when we go and even then we shop on Wednesday which is their 50% day.  My ten year old is learning to clip coupons and I also teach and pass on coupons and savings to friends and family. When I find a sale I often post it on Facebook and my personal blog to help others.   When coupons expire, I send them overseas to military families who can use them for an additional six months.  No one I know is above saving money in this day and age. There is never a feeling of a coupon being beneath you, even though some cashiers can be very snobby at the check-out counter. It’s all about dollars and cents, the kind that I am keeping in my pocket.

No matter what the coupon is, I use a few simple rules of thumb before making a final purchase. Do I really need this item or will this be an impulse buy? If I don’t really need it or can’t gift it, then it’s just a waste to begin with. I don’t use coupons for wrinkle cream because no matter how cheap it is, I don’t have wrinkles. We have to be practical. I’m not a hoarder nor do I stockpile. I buy only what we need and can use in a reasonable amount of time. What is the sale price elsewhere? Can I price-match or get this item at a cheaper location? Many stores will price match and take competitor’s coupons. So I will often use that coupon at a store I don’t have to drive across town to shop at. What are the restrictions of my coupon? Some coupons are only for regular price items, so really you are not getting anything that great. But a coupon that can be used on a sale or clearance price object is like finding gold.  Also some coupons are for off of two or three items which do make it worth your while. For instance, $1 off of three boxes of cereal is not worth it, but .75$ off of one is well worth it because many stores will double it. You really have to be savvy and know your stores and their coupon policies.

This year I saved 25% on my son’s school picture order by googling a coupon code and paying online. I always look for codes when making an online purchase. I have saved over $200 in just shipping by using these codes. It only takes a few minutes to save so much. Some people will say that it is too much work, but I beg to differ.  I would say in total I have saves close to $2000 in coupons this year and was able to buy some items that my family could not afford by being thrifty. It would take me more time to go earn that $2000 at an hourly wage than it would to clip and I would be away from my son if I were at work.  I believe even if I made good money at a job I would still use coupons because that money can always be used elsewhere for better good, like a charity or saving for my son’s college fund. There is just no reason not to save. I would encourage anyone to try it. It’s like giving yourself a raise.

A note from us at I’m In:  Reine is right, it IS easy to save while shopping online.  Check out our list of coupon codes to use next time you’re shopping online to see how much you can save!