It is undeniable that families are having an increasingly difficult time making ends meet, and there are more and more families looking for a way to lower their spending in an attempt to keep their households operating smoothly. Coupons are an incredibly effective way of helping to ease the strain on a shrinking family budget. There are limitless possibilities for saving money if people are willing to do the legwork. Here are ten of the ways that coupons can help cut family spending.
1. Holidays and Birthdays
Holidays are an excellent time to use coupons for specific items that are seasonal and, therefore, time sensitive. For instance, holiday scented candles and Halloween candy are usually good places to cut cost using coupons as they cannot be marketed at full price after their respective holidays, and companies will usually use coupons to encourage consumers to buy their products so there will be very little profit loss due to left over merchandise.
Birthdays also present a great opportunity to save by using coupons from mailing lists and in-store sign-ups. Author Crystal Paine explains that quickly signing up for these lists gives families the opportunity to take advantage of birthday discounts and free items or services for members of their family. This helps greatly as birthdays tend to be family activities, and the cost of going to a theater or out for a special dinner can be quite a hit to the pocketbook, even for a family of three.
2. New Arrivals
Having a baby means extra expenses all around. Transportation costs, baby furniture, diapers, clothing, and perhaps formula wreak havoc on an already tight budget. The United States has a program labeled WIC, Women, Infants, Children. As Dresden Shumaker, single mom and blogger, reveals, this program provides its own type of coupons for all women with infants and young children. These coupons help to pay for specific grocery items. WIC helps to make wiggle room for other needs that young families are required to address by freeing up cash that would be otherwise spent on the package of diapers or gallon of milk.
3. Family Meals
Family budgets are always hard to balance with growing children who seem to have insatiable appetites. Family meals are an excellent place to save money while using coupons. The use of coupons on food items is a popular practice that is as easy as opening a newspaper or looking for websites where coupons can be printed or mailed to you. Paine recommends pairing these coupons with weekly sales at grocery stores to boost savings. In fact, there are times when using a coupon with a sale item means 100% savings or BOGO deals.
4. Customer Loyalty Cards
Having a customer loyalty card at some stores means paying regular price for grocery items with a special sticker over the tag that states the contrary, but having the right customer loyalty cards for the right grocery stores helps you to save money with the card alone. Pair these cards with coupons to save on grocery items such as cleaning products while getting a discount off of your whole bill or additional points towards one.
5. Dining Out
Although it can be hard to justify dining out when having to mind expenses, there are times when your family deserves a small treat or when mom deserves a break from cooking. A lot of fast food and family restaurants send out flyers with coupons in the mail or newspapers, and there are sometimes even coupons for local restaurants on the back of your grocery receipts which can help reduce the sting of pizza night or a quick run by the drive-thru.
6. Saving On Cosmetics, Medicine, and Toiletries
Rather than spending extra money at the grocery store on items such as shampoo or cough medicine, Paine suggests parents should opt to visit their local pharmacy. Pharmacies usually have customer loyalty cards of their own, and using coupons along with these and the instant rebates often found on packaging of cosmetics, cold remedies, and pain relievers help to keep costs down on otherwise pricey items.
7. School Coupon Books
It can be difficult to help out your child's school when fundraisers are going on, but sometimes schools give back by offering school coupon books in exchange for donations to their Parents Advisory Councils or band fundraisers. These coupon books vary in price, but always offer incredible discounts on local leisure, dining, and entertainment. If it is one of the bigger coupon books, it will include offers and coupons for businesses outside of your immediate area, as well as coupons for countrywide hotels and rental car companies. These are all around very useful booklets that save hundreds of dollars, which makes the $30 you originally spent well worth it.
8. Travel and Travel Rewards Programs
Vacations seem virtually out of reach for a family that is living on a strict budget. Travel expert Finn Olaf Jones asserts that it is still very possible to take your family on a vacation and offers many suggestions on how to do so. Some of these suggestions include apartment swaps and temporary rentals that can be paid for with either nothing, or a small fee depending on their locale and what season you choose to book them. He also mentions travel websites as ways to save on airfare. Using your travel rewards cards for discounts on airfare can really help boost the savings from booking flights online and using coupons and discounts for rental car companies and hotels can assist with reducing travel costs when timeshares and apartment swaps aren't available.
9. Pet Care Expenses
Be it food, treats, toys, or vet bills, pets can add a large weight to your finances. Family budgets don't have to be as deeply impacted by pet ownership as people often assume. There are always coupons available in weekly inserts for dog and cat food or treats, and instant rebates can help to increase your savings as well. Vet bills are always a huge burden on fixed budgets, but most veterinary offices offer discounts on routine treatments like teeth cleaning. Sometimes veterinary clinics advertise their services by mailing out flyers that include coupons on spaying and neutering animals or grooming services. These offers can hugely decrease the costs of having a pet.
10. Family Medical, Dental, and Optical
Because there is a large amount of competition for business in personal health and wellness, opticians, dentists, and chiropractors are having to send out coupons in local mailers that give discounts on health-care services, minor adjustments, alignments, and first visits in order to keep their clientele up. Dentists and orthodontists will commonly offer free tooth whitening with cleanings, or free consultations for braces if children need them. Optical stores are usually fairly competitive with one another and will offer two pairs of glasses for the price of one, or free eye exams. Being one of the most expensive areas of family expenses, personal care is a great place to look for deals that really translate to big savings in the long run.
Without the need for businesses to continually require customers, coupons would not exist. Fortunately, families are able to capitalize on companies' needs and use these mutualistic promotional materials to help reduce the amount of money that their family needs to live happily and comfortably. Coupons are a wonderful way to save money, and with a tiny bit of effort, a keen eye for deals, and a sharp pair of scissors, any family can make the most of these offers for an easier time sticking with a budget.