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Saving Money Without Coupons

by Derek Sisterhen on August 30, 2011

We haven’t talked about couponing much on PDR, yet I know many in our audience are coupon mavens. Christine Luken is the Coupon Queen and has made a name for herself by how easy she makes saving money with simple coupon strategies. But today, she’s going to show those who prefer not to tinker with the ads in the Sunday paper how to save some cash. Christine is also giving away her e-book to the first three people to comment on this article. ~D.S.

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I’m going to take a swan-dive into the deep end of controversy and embrace my critics. I am the Coupon Queen and I’m here to tell you today that you CAN save money WITHOUT using coupons. To my fellow Coupon Queens and Kings, the previous statement is borderline blasphemous (and I hope they don’t show up on my doorstep tomorrow with torches and pitchforks!) Look, I love using coupons and the money it saves me, but I know I’ll never persuade everyone to use coupons.

I recently researched why people don’t use coupons, because it seems like a no-brainer to me. If I can pay less for something, I’m willing to put out a small amount of effort to accomplish that. However, not everyone sees eye-to-eye with me on this. Non-Couponers feel like it takes too much time, organization, and energy to use coupons in a way that will give them a good return for their effort. As much as I’d like to corner each and every one of these people and attempt to persuade them otherwise, I understand that I can’t win everyone over to my side. As the old saying goes, “Those convinced against their will are of the same opinion still.”

Rather than rail against the coupon-haters, I’m going to show them some love. As a Coupon Queen, I am always looking for a great deal and there are ways to save that do not involve coupons. So this is for all of you who can’t be bothered with coupons, for whatever reason. I believe that you still want to save money; you just don’t want the hassle of cutting, sorting, and organizing those little squares of paper.

One of the best ways to get a discount is to just ask for one! I’m not talking about hard-core, used-car-salesman negotiating here. It’s as easy as asking, “Is this your best price on this item?” or “Are there any discounts or specials going on today?” If you like to haggle and you’re not opposed to gently used items, there are deals galore to be found at Craig’s List, E-Bay, yard sales, thrift shops, and consignment stores. I have purchased clothing, books, jewelry, and other items with huge discounts that looked brand new! I also like to sell my shopping “mistakes” back to my local consignment shop and on E-Bay. If you prefer new, you can glean some awesome treasures in the clearance section of your favorite stores. (Some retailers specifically exclude clearance items from their coupons, so you’re not leaving any money on the table.)

Another way to save without coupons is by utilizing store loyalty cards. The nice thing about these cards is that most never expire. The cashier scans the loyalty card and you automatically earn discounts or free items. I frequently earn free smoothies and sandwiches from Panera, gift cards from Office Max, and fuel discounts from Kroger. If you’re going to use this strategy, you may want to purchase a larger wallet… I currently have 15 different store loyalty cards in mine!

I’m probably going to stir up some trouble with this next tip, because people have strong opinions about the store I’m about to mention. If you don’t want to mess with coupons, I suggest doing the majority of your shopping at Walmart. They really do have low prices on the name brand items that people use every day. (No, Walmart did not pay me to say that!) Many people don’t realize that Walmart also does price matching. If you are feeling ambitious, grab the sale ads for the other local grocery stores and take them with you on your next shopping trip to Walmart. If grapes are 88 cents a pound at Kroger, Walmart will match that price if you show them the Kroger ad. You don’t need a coupon and you don’t need to shop at more than one store to get all the good deals.

When is a coupon not a coupon? When it’s an e-coupon! Okay, they sort of are coupons, but hear me out! E-coupons are electronic coupons that are either linked to your store loyalty card or sent to your cell phone via email or text message. This is great for folks who don’t want to keep track of paper coupons and expiration dates. Typically, you’ll go to a store’s website, select the e-coupons you want to load to your store card. When you check out, you’ll swipe your card or have the cashier scan the barcode on your iPhone or Blackberry. The e-coupons will automatically reduce your total bill if you purchased those items.

Whether you are a Crazy Coupon Lady like me or a die-hard Non-Couponer, we can all agree that paying less for things we want or need is a good thing. Because, why pay retail if you don’t have to? Happy Shopping!

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Christine Luken is a Coupon Queen, Financial Coach, and author of the e-book, Confessions of a Coupon Queen: Secrets Retailers Don’t Want You to Know. (Use coupon code DRC9 to save 10% and to support Past Due Radio.) Christine has a passion for helping families save money so they can build up their savings and pay off their debt. In her spare time, you can find Christine on the golf course, at the mall shopping for shoes (coupons in hand!), or at home watching cage fighting with her husband. You can find her on her website or email her directly.

  • Avon4everyone04

    I love coupons!

  • Dbillias

    great blog!!!

  • http://pastdueradio.com/ Derek Sisterhen

    Hey Dbillias – thanks for checking in.  I’m curious what you found great about this blog post.  Once you’ve added to the conversation, shoot me an email at mailbag@pastdueradio.com and I’ll be sure to send you a copy of Christine’s ebook.

  • http://pastdueradio.com/ Derek Sisterhen

    Hi Avon4everyone04 – I’m sure that Christine is excited to hear of your love for coupons!  If you don’t mind adding to the conversation that this post started, then shoot me an email at mailbag@pastdueradio.com, I’ll be happy to hook you up with Christine’s ebook.

  • Avon4everyone04

    Well, In reading this above, I find that yes you can save money without coupons (paper) but why not combine all ways of saving and save even more money. Most stores will allow you to load their coupons onto your shopping card (or Meijer does it with your cell phone) and then you can stack paper coupons on top of those savings to save even more. I dont feel paper coupons are a bad thing. They store is still getting its money plus a .08 cent handeling fee. I agree sometimes coupons can take time but in the end, the total savings make it all worth it.

  • http://twitter.com/JWFinCoaching Jonathan White

    Thanks for the tips Christine. I’ve noticed too that if you want a discount all you have to do is ask for one! Stores will go out of their way to give you a lower price if you just ask for one and not demand that they
    give you a discount. Another good way to get a discount without a coupon is with cash. Showing a wad of cash to the sales rep will give you a lot better deal then simply using plastic.

  • http://twitter.com/JWFinCoaching Jonathan White

    Thanks for the tips Christine. I’ve noticed too that if you want a discount all you have to do is ask for one! Stores will go out of their way to give you a lower price if you just ask for one and not demand that they
    give you a discount. Another good way to get a discount without a coupon is with cash. Showing a wad of cash to the sales rep will give you a lot better deal then simply using plastic.

  • Natalie

    Thanks for the tips Christine!  This has been a touchy subject in our household.  My husband agrees with you that coupons are great for saving money, I disagree.  I find that in using coupons I end up buying things I would not normally buy + plus buy the stuff I always purchase.  I end up spending more money!  Husband and I reached compromise.  He uses the coupons to purchase food items we donate to bumper crop.

  • Kimmy Mclaughlin

    Great post!  I’m not a huge fan of wal-mart, but I have to admit that I like the price match thing and I especially like that they take other stores coupons. 

  • http://www.YourStrongTower.com Christine Luken

    Hi Natalie!  I used to be the same way with coupons.  I’d use them just because I felt I should and ended up buying things I didn’t need.  Now, I only cut coupons for the things that my family actually uses and then I’ll pass the other coupons on to my sister-in-law.  It’s not a good deal to buy anything you won’t use!

  • http://www.YourStrongTower.com Christine Luken

    You’re right Jonathan!  You can get some awesome deals when you flash the cash, especially at yard sales, consignment stores, etc.  I just noticed that my favorite sushi restaurant offers a 10% discount for paying in cash.

  • http://profiles.google.com/buckmanrandy Randall Buckman

    Good article! This is stuff we do quite often cause we don’t use coupons. The main reason we don’t use coupons is because they seem to always favor the products in the center of the store.The most processed and commercialized products. We try to buy as natural or organic as possible and I never see any coupons for that stuff. They may have an occassional coupon but for 1 or 2 coupons per month it doesn’t seem worth my time. Even though more than 50% of our grocery budget is spent on produce, dairy, or meat, which I don’t believe gets coupons, I would use coupons if they had some that could be easily found for the more natural or organic products.

    That’s my take on it but please correct me if I am wrong:)
    Thanks Christine!

    Randy Buckman

  • Christine Luken

    That is a common misconception, Randy!  There are definitely ways to save on produce, meat, organic and other healthy foods!  I do talk about this in my e-book, because I am a bit of a health-nut myself.  Plus you can use coupons for personal care, cleaning, and paper products.  I am thinking I need to do a another blog post to bust this myth.  :)

  • Christine Luken

    That is a common misconception, Randy!  There are definitely ways to save on produce, meat, organic and other healthy foods!  I do talk about this in my e-book, because I am a bit of a health-nut myself.  Plus you can use coupons for personal care, cleaning, and paper products.  I am thinking I need to do a another blog post to bust this myth.  :)

  • http://pastdueradio.com/ Derek Sisterhen

    Great insights here, Avon4everyone04!  You make a great point – if you take the discounts stores are already willing to offer and couple them with a few coupons, you get a double-whammy of savings.

  • http://pastdueradio.com/ Derek Sisterhen

    I hear you on this, Natalie.  Elisa and I used to get the Sunday paper and jump immediately to the coupons.  We’d get so frustrated when we’d only find a few for products we actually use.  We ended up discontinuing our subscription.  Nowadays, we look more for the store coupons at the places we like to shop.  Seems to be much more effective.

    Nice job with supporting Bumper Crop, by the way!

  • http://pastdueradio.com/ Derek Sisterhen

    I struggle with Walmart, too, Kimmy.  I actually love their business model – so from a purely business standpoint, I think they’re great.

    My big beef with Walmart is their parking lot.  I can’t remember ever having a pleasant parking experience with Walmart.  I know I’m not the only one.  For me, if I can’t easily park my car, not have to drive through hoards of people, and then quickly get out, then I’m not even going to bother coming to your store.

    And because they use a carbon-copy design for their stores, you can bet most of the buildings and parking lots will be laid out similarly.  Okay, enough of the parking rant!  :-)  Thanks for the comment.

  • http://pastdueradio.com/ Derek Sisterhen

    Christine, I do believe you’ll have to bust the organic coupon myth!  I’m sure you get comments like Randy’s all the time and I’m glad to know that you seek out healthier foods.

    I can relate with Randy – his reasons are exactly why Elisa and I cancelled our newspaper subscription and had to pursue other avenues for product discounts.

  • http://www.Agatha-K.com Agatha Kulesza

    Randy do you live in an area that has farmer’s markets? We have some great organic ones in Los Angeles where I live and I always get better deals there than at the store. Also if you wait until the end of the farmer’s market day to go buy your produce they give you ENORMOUS discounts because they want to get rid of their haul and not have to drag it back to their farm.

  • http://pastdueradio.com/eat-healthy-save-money Eat Healthy, Save Money — Past Due: Radio

    […] some myths and give us some solid ways to save money on healthy foods. After Christine’s last guest post, it was clear we have some very discerning fans that are looking for ways to make products that are […]

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