When you're collecting coupons, the details matter. Knowing which stores offer the best prices, accept stacked coupons or allow doubling can make the whole coupon clipping program worthwhile. Other saving strategies like rewards cards can be useful, too. Together with coupons, store rewards can rack up points or result in instant discounts that are truly impressive. To make sure you're on the front line for deep savings takes some planning and creative strategizing. These tips will help:
- Be informed - Once you understand a retailer's quirks, share the information with other savings club members. Because you're all local, store-specific tips can be particularly valuable. It won't take long to discover which stores have the best discounts and the most congenial (and accommodating) customer service policies. Read coupon and store policy literature carefully to make sure you understand the rules, too. When you're working with a large number of coupons (this is common when grocery shopping) or a new store promotion, the cashier may not have all the information necessary to feel comfortable ringing up the sale. In these cases, resistance is common and can involve the floor manager and even the store manager. The more you understand about a promotion or coupon, the easier it will be to explain your rights. If you anticipate problems, there's safety in numbers. Consider shopping with a club friend to back you up.
- Don't Specialize - Clothing stores often cater to a specific clientele, from the big and tall man, to the short and petite woman. There are also specialty shoe stores, accessory stores and stores that just sell underwear. One of the best ways to score coupons and special discounts at these locations is to get on their mailing lists (both e-mail and snail mail). You may not be a size 2, but that petite perfect store probably also sells scarves and socks that'll fit you just fine. Go ahead and sign up. If you luck into a coupon you can use, that's great. If not, share the coupon with a club friend who may be in the market for an itty bitty tube top. It's all good, and you'll never know what these retail outlets are offering until you get onboard.
- Split bulk purchases - You may be able to get a great discount on pizza sauce if you buy seven cans -- that could take you five years to use. A club member and friend may be in a similar spot with a volume purchase of frozen orange juice. If you work together, you can share the wealth (and the savings) without having to rent a storage locker for the extra inventory. Consider splitting volume grocery purchases. Because you're dealing with neighbors, schlepping goods back and forth isn't much of an issue, and everyone involved will come out ahead. It won't work for everything, but when it does, the savings can be substantial and everyone walks away happy.
- Blogging the Suburbs. "Why Every Man Should Be in a Coupon Club." 8/7/11. (9/26/11). http://bloggingthesuburbs.com/why-every-man-should-be-in-a-coupon-club/
- Consumer Reports. "Seven Secrets of Coupon Pros." 8/2010. (9/26/11). http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine-archive/2010/august/shopping/coupon-savings/overview/index.htm
- Pinching Your Pennies. "Do You Pinch Your Pennies?" (9/26/11). http://www.pinchingyourpennies.com/graphics/101flyer.pdf
- Shinn, Lora. "Coupon clubs: Save a buck at a coupon swap." BankRate.com. (9/26/11). http://www.bankrate.com/system/util/print.aspx?p=/finance/personal-finance/coupon-clubs-save-a-buck-at-a-coupon-swap-1.aspx&s=br3&c=smart%20spending&t=story&e=1&v=1
- Smith, Daniel. "Coupon Club - How to Start One." 3/20/06. (9/26/11). http://www.savingadvice.com/forums/grocery-articles/15992-coupon-club-how-start-one.html
- SunStreeks. "Starting a Coupon Club." (9/26/11). http://sunstreeks.hubpages.com/hub/How-To-Start-A-Coupon-Club-In-Your-Neighborhood
- TipNut. "Start a Coupon Club at Work." (9/26/11). http://tipnut.com/start-a-coupon-club-at-work/
- Tolar, Tisha. "Entertainment Value: Start a Frugal Club." 1/20/09. (9/26/11). http://www.wisebread.com/entertainment-value-start-a-frugal-club