Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Couponing Is Not Just an Annoying Hobby

image credit: truzu.com
Have you ever seen those people who go around looking for coupons that they can use to buy groceries, household items or beauty products? You must have thought they were crazy. I used to think that, too. How much can you save on those coupons? Some of them even require you to mail the coupon to the company to redeem it. But one day I watched a TV program about a woman who collected enough coupons to buy $600 worth of products in a large supermarket for less than $3. I am still shocked trying to figure out how she managed to do so.

However, I have used coupons myself, and some deals that they offer are really worth hunting for. For example, I always wanted to try Smart Balance Fat Free milk, as I heard that it was delicious and not fattening, but it is so expensive that it's cheaper to buy a gallon of regular 2% milk than a half gallon of the Smart Balance one. But one time I received a coupon that allowed me to buy that milk for about $1.99 (if not cheaper, I don't quite remember), and I tried it. It was great. I'm just still not ready to spend up to $5 on it, so I guess, I'll wait for another coupon.

Enticed by these examples, you may now be willing to go hunt for discounts. The question is: where to go? There are several places that you can get coupons from:

1. Newspapers and magazines.

2. Booklets that you can find in supermarkets and pharmacies. Sometimes they just list the current discounts they offer (which is great to know, too), but there are often coupons or promotions that you can use to lower the price of your purchases.

3. Online resources. With the development of the Internet, it is now so easy to find discounts. If you are a student, by the way, you can find student savings options at www.campusclipper.com. There is a coupon booklet that you can download and use for food, beauty, health and services in New York City area (with your student ID). You can also go to their website and download a single coupon that you are going to use.

4. Supermarket checkout. When a cashier scans your items, you may notice that there is a coupon that the machine by the register prints out for you (usually you need to have a member's card, which is free, so get it from the place where you shop regularly). Ask the cashier to give it to you (sometimes they don't), and use it next time. That's how I got my Smart Balance coupon. I couldn't believe my happiness!

There are, perhaps, other places where you can encounter great discount coupons, but these are the ones I know about and the ones you can start with if you decide to make couponing your new hobby.

What's next?

When you find coupons, make sure they are not expired, see whether or not you satisfy all the requirements and how easy it will be for you to find the store and get a discount. If you have to travel to New Jersey to get $2 off Honey Nut Cheerios, you will spend more money getting there, so it doesn't make sense to bother.

Well, and the following step should probably be sharing your knowledge with others. Living in a huge and expensive city, we should all support each other and help our fellow New Yorkers to save money as well.


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