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.