I was thinking back to when I first started using coupons and how that has changed over the years as I have figured out what works and doesn't for me.
Clipping Every Coupon
I have to say I would spend a lot of time clipping every single coupon that was in the Sunday paper and my coupon folder would be so full it would take longer than cutting them to find the coupon I needed when in the store. I finally figured out that just because there is a coupon for 50¢ off air fresheners and I never buy them, why cut them out?
Using High Value Coupons
Those $5 off coupons are cool to see, but many times those coupons are for items that are more expensive than I would spend without a coupon. Eventually as appealing as the coupons were, I most always found a cheaper deal on another brand. Occasionally if I wait it out the higher value coupon will be useful, but I don't worry if I never use them.
I'm not a huge rebate user, but I have learned that if I am going to enter into these rebates I am going to read the tiny print thoroughly and make sure I have completed all the rules, I have lost enough money over the years that the extra work is worth it. I photocopy EVERYTHING, make sure I have the contact info in case I don't get my rebate in 8 weeks and I write it down on the calendar so I am reminded when I should be receiving the money back.
Missing the Expiration Date
When I first started using coupon this was a common problem and to fix that I go through my coupons every Sunday and check the expiration date, moving those that have only a couple weeks left toward the front so I use them first when out shopping. I have seen some people use a highlighter on expiration date so that it stands out to them when they search through them.
Forgetting the Coupons
One the major reasons my coupons expire is that I forget to take them with me. I now organize my coupons on Sunday and make sure that coupon folder is in the car by Monday morning and keep it in there until next Sunday. When I get out of the car at the store, I grab it even though I may just be buying milk because impulse buying does exist and I want to make sure I have the coupon just in case.
A Coupon is Not An Excuse
I would buy stuff that I though I might use and then it would go bad or just sit and get dusty. I have seen people get free glucose monitors in the multiples and unless they are donating them, I don't understand why - the fact it is free isn't enough of a reason for me. I have to use the items now that I bring home or it is just clutter and clutter annoys me.
One last thing I have learned to do with the extra coupons is to give them away so that others can find them use from them. Over the years, through trial and error, I have learned how best to use coupons and I will always be tweaking my use for each new situation that may come up. My main concern right now is the best savings I can get while rounding out the pantry and limiting the processed foods coming in.