If you’ve always thought coupons were just for saving pennies at the grocery store, or are more trouble than they’re worth, you’ve been missing out on one of the easiest ways to save money and stretch your hard-earned dollars further.
While grocery coupons are the most popular -- out of the 3.3 billion coupons used per year, 2.1 billion are for food purchases -- couponing goes way beyond the supermarket. In fact, these days, coupons go beyond paper, often downloading right into your smartphone. Whatever you’re looking to buy, there is probably a coupon that will save you money.
Cut Down on Home Maintenance Costs
Keeping your home in tiptop shape isn’t inexpensive. But when it comes to cleaning, handyman services, repairs or even major remodels, there are coupons to bring the costs down. You’ll often find coupons for local services in the weekly PennySaver or similar direct mail circulars. Many businesses take out ads in local interest magazines, frequently with coupons for services. Groupon and other daily deal sites are another option – you’ll find great deals on cleaning services, painting, window cleaning and other household maintenance needs. Be careful to read the fine print, however – these deals are often for new customers only, or limited in their scope.
While you aren’t going to find a coupon for major surgery or services with your local gastroenterologist, it’s easy to use find coupons to help save on the cost of dental work or orthodontics, glasses and eye care, massages, chiropractic care or fitness club memberships (with average membership costs of $55 per month, your wallet will slim down quickly without a discount). If you don’t have medical insurance that covers the cost of these services, coupons can make a big difference. Look for medical services specials in weekly coupon mailers like Valpak, the Valpak website, where you can search for services by type and zip code, local interest magazines and through the businesses’ websites. Be aware that these types of coupons are usually only for first-time customers, and may not cover certain services.
Whether it’s a family night out at the movies, a day spent at a local amusement park or a night of dinner and dancing with a special someone, entertainment costs add up quickly. The average price of a movie ticket in 2014 is $7.96, with much higher prices in most major metropolitan areas. Adult admission to Disneyland is a whopping $96, and that’s before you hit the souvenir shops. But there’s no reason to pay full price for entertainment when it’s so easy to find coupons and discounts to bring the cost down.
One of the best ways to score discounted tickets is through daily deals websites like Groupon or LivingSocial. These sites offer a wide range of specials on local entertainment, including admission to theme parks, special events, movies and more. You need to be flexible, however, because you can’t predict just what the daily deals will be. If your heart is set on a specific event or theme park, check with your local AAA office or Costco for coupons, or visit the event’s website, where you may find printable coupons.
If you’re looking to dine out, you’re in luck. Restaurant coupons are easy to find. Check the PennySaver or other direct mail circulars, your town’s local interest magazine, Groupon and other daily deal sites for restaurant specials. Another option is Restaurant.com, which offers a huge range of restaurant gift certificates, most 50% off.
Dress for Less
If you want to save on clothing, sign up for emails from department stores like Kohl’s, JC Penney and Macy’s, as well as high-end retailers like Bloomingdale's and Saks Fifth Avenue. You’ll receive regular coupons, sale announcements and promotional discounts from 10 to 20% or more off your entire purchase. Though you may need to have a store credit card to reap the benefits, most department stores offer some savings to those using other methods of payment. The coupons are usually good both for online and in-store shopping, and most stores let you save even further by applying coupons to already discounted merchandise.
Saving at the Grocery Store
When you think of coupons, the glossy coupon inserts in the Sunday newspaper probably spring to mind. But there are easier, newer options available. You can save big at most supermarkets by signing up for their rewards card. Simply swipe the card at checkout, and you’ll automatically receive the sale price on items throughout the store. For even more easy savings, follow your favorite market on Facebook, or check their website for downloadable coupons that load right onto your rewards card. These electronic coupons offer savings far beyond what you’ll find in the newspaper – for example, the Ralphs grocery store chain in southern California offers weekly electronic coupons, typically $10 off a $100 purchase, or similar savings.
The Bottom Line
No longer just pennies off for a box of cereal, today you can use coupons to save big with the cost of just about everything. Modern technology has made couponing easier than ever – you can download coupons right into your smartphone or rewards card, receive coupons via email, buy coupons online – or just stick with good old-fashioned weekly newspaper grocery store savings. The choice is yours, and so are the savings.