This is a guest post from Kendal Perez. She gives actionable steps you can save money by using coupons and dollar store purchases. Part of a satisfying retirement is saving money for fun stuff. Kendal's ideas will help:
Even novice couponers know the best source for grocery-store discounts (the Sunday circular) and have the smarts to time their shopping trips around a sale. However, unless you're an extreme saver with surplus storage space for toothpaste and toilet paper, you may not be aware of many discounts crossing your path every day. Before you let another dime go down the drain, check this list of the most overlooked discounts and be sure to include them in your savings plan.
1. Receipt Coupons
I opt for self-checkout whenever possible to ensure swift service. That means grabbing the receipt on the way out and stuffing it in my bag, never to be seen again. Mistake! Not only is it good to review your receipt to ensure you weren't overcharged, but they're also a great source for discounts on groceries and local services.
2. Catalina Coupons
Similar to receipt coupons, Catalina coupons are usually printed from a small machine at the register. These coupons are triggered by your previous purchases, yielding useful discounts on products you typically buy. You can even use them at other grocery stores when they're offered by the manufacturer. For more information on Catalina coupons, consult this article from Savvygirl Living.
3. Customer Service Surveys
Readers of my blog already know I'm a fan of The Limited, but even I forget to take advantage of an easy resource for savings. Every time I'm handed a receipt, the cashier circles a phone number I can call to offer feedback on my shopping experience. In exchange for a few minutes of time they provide $10 off my next purchase of $50 or more. Lots of retailers have similar offers, so pay attention and make the call.
4. Mobile Coupons
Despite my best intentions, I'll often leave carefully clipped coupons on my kitchen counter and miss out on the discount I intended to score. Thankfully, my husband's smartphone gives me online access to deals via the Coupon Sherpa mobile app. This app allows me to search for retail and supermarket savings on-the-go, and I can also download grocery discounts directly to my loyalty card.
It's always a bonus when something you intended to purchase comes with a peelie -- or a coupon adhered to the product for immediate use. However, these sticky gems do you no good if you fail to point them out to the cashier. To ensure savings, remove the coupon from the product before checkout and hand it to the cashier.
6. Status Discounts
Most seniors I know are pretty good about asking for discounts, but I often overlooked my savings potential as a student. Additionally, teachers and military personnel can score great deals from retailers, restaurants and even travel agencies. It never hurts to ask whether discounts are available for your particular status; just be ready to present the necessary proof.
7. Preferred Customer Offers
I get $10 in DSW Rewards every now and again, and my husband will score $10 in savings on his next Dick's Sporting Goods purchase. How do we land such great discounts? We accrue points via "preferred customer" programs that yield savings after a certain spending amount is reached. Since we frequent these retailers it makes sense (and cents!) to sign up for their free programs.
8. Sports Tickets
Like Catalina coupons, your ticket to last weekend's big game might have some local coupons on the back. Some people save sporting-event tickets for sentimentality, but everyone should glance at the back of their stubs before tossing them. More often than not you'll find discounts for local restaurants or retailers.
If you're like me, the first thing you do before thumbing through the latest issue of your favorite magazine is remove the annoying subscription offers. As you tear them away, don't overlook potential coupons. I've found discounts and even free samples for makeup and other items in conjunction with the magazine's advertisements.
10. Recycling Programs
You're likely in the habit of recycling what you can, but did you know some retailers offer discounts for your efforts? I didn't either until recently, when a box of Kashi cereal prompted me to sign up for RecycleBank.com. By entering a code printed inside my cereal box, I earn points toward discounts on products I already buy.
Another way to save big bucks is to use dollars stores for part of your weekly listss. Dollar stores aren't just for the incredibly frugal. A recent Colliers International study shows dollar stores now outnumber national drugstore chains, according to Independent Retailer.
Despite obvious deals, some shoppers are still reticent to patronize these retailers because they lack confidence in product quality. Though I don't buy everything at my local Dollar Tree, there are several items I simply will not buy anywhere else. If you struggle to make the leap into dollar-store savings, consider these eight must-haves to get your feet wet:
A) Greeting Cards
This is my number-one dollar-store purchase. Never again will I pay upwards of $5 for a greeting card when I can find perfectly clever, poignant and practical cards for $1 or less at my local Dollar Tree. You can also find bulk thank-you cards and other decorative notes to maintain correspondence without breaking the bank.
I have a raging sweet tooth but can't bring myself to pay over $2 for something my waistline doesn't need. Thankfully -- or perhaps not, depending on how you look at it -- dollar stores have many name-brand goodies to curb my craving. It's also my go-to place for stocking up on provisions before the movies.
C) Party Supplies
Whether you're organizing a company party or kids' birthday bash, dollar stores have scores of party supplies to make your event a hit. Banners, balloons, confetti, gift bags and wrapping paper are just a sampling of the available inventory, and you can always find holiday-themed decor on the cheap. Even if you don't have a dollar store nearby, you can order online and find coupons for Dollar General at sites like CouponSherpa.com for additional savings.
D) Single Servings
Dollar stores are a great place to pick up single quantities of popular items. For example, a friend of mine recently purchased two wineglasses as the traditional set of six or eight was way more than she needed. She was able to get what she needed without compromising price or storage space. Score!
E) Hair Accessories
While some fashionistas may have reservations about getting their hair candy at a discount store, I can't stress enough how practical it is to load up on the basics for less. Most hair bands and bobby pins are created equal, so there's no reason to pay more for them than you have to. In fact, dollar stores sometimes carry the popular Goody brand of hair bling, so keep your eyes peeled.
F) School Supplies
Every school year seems to bring with it a more demanding list of required supplies. Thankfully, most educational essentials are as basic as you can get, allowing for incredible savings. Spiral-bound notebooks, three-ring binders, bouquets of freshly sharpened pencils -- you can find it all at the dollar store.
G) Kids' Toys
Children tire of toys faster than the speed of paychecks, so parents everywhere could use a practical outlet for keeping their kids entertained. Dollar stores dedicate an entire aisle to superhero swag and princess must-haves at unbeatable prices, so check them out before paying department-store prices.
H) Long Distance Travel Distractions
Though airport shops offer plenty of tempting snacks and magazines, the price of these items will quickly eat up your budget. Why pay over $3 for trail mix when you can pick some up at a dollar store for a third of the cost? In addition to thrifty snacks, you can find coloring books, Sudoku puzzles and other distractions to keep yourself inexpensively occupied during a long flight or car trip.
Kendal Perez is a frugal fashionista and bargain shopper who helps fellow shopaholics find hassle-free ways to save money. She has the resources to be an extreme couponer but prefers a less complicated approach to staying in-budget. Kendal has been quoted in such media outlets as CNN Money, FOX, ABC, NPR and Home and Family Finance Radio. For savings tips and more information, visit HassleFreeSavings.com.
For more information please contact Kendal Perez by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.