If you’ve been trying to wring some savings from your budget lately, you’re not alone. Reports of people dealing with their financial insecurity by cutting back on holiday spending and swapping McDonald’s coffee for their daily Starbucks fix seem to be everywhere. But what about those of us who already drink Tim Hortons and gift responsibly? We have our own trend: More and more, women are cutting the fat from their budgets by clipping coupons. After all, how else can you save $50 a week ($2,600 a year!) for about half an hour’s work?
Get the mail
Start by doing as your mother did. Grab a coupon organizer (or tape together a few envelopes) and label them according to errand: groceries, beauty, pets. Then pledge to scan everything that comes into your house – newspapers, magazines and flyers – and clip what you might use. (Be warned: These types of coupons often expire quickly, so you should use them as soon as possible.) For extra points, use coupons on products that are already on sale and, when you get a good deal, stockpile necessities like tissue paper and canned food. Laura Martin, a stay-at-home mom in Calgary, says she’s “into the old-fashioned flyers,” because scanning the mail’s on her to-do list anyways. “It doesn’t hurt to clip the few you might use,” she says. “And it makes me feel like I’m contributing to the household a little more when I can save us a few dollars. I joke that I make money by saving money.”
Decades ago, women joined coupon trades to swap coupons they didn’t need for those they did, by mail or in person. Now, it’s easier than ever to find all coupons yourself, by looking online. (If you don’t have the patience to go through the mail, this is also a good option.) And unlike so many things online, there are great Canadian options available. Save.ca is incredibly easy to use: just scan a page of coupons, check off the ones you want and enter your address. They’ll arrive within a few days. Saversguide.com sorts coupons by your neighbourhood, and offers discounts on products and restaurants. More experienced clippers love Saversguide.com, Smartcanucks.ca, Redflagdeals.ca and Frugalshopper.ca, which all have deals blogs, and active coupons and freebies forums. You can also try signing up for the newsletters of your favourite stores, such as Gap, Mark’s Work Warehouse, and Shoppers Drug Mart. They’ll send coupons to you via email, and you already know they’re places you shop.
Michelle Laing, who describes her love of coupons as “a lifestyle choice,” does it all. She clips from newspapers and magazines (which she gets for free with Airmiles), flips through flyers, browses online and even participates in coupon trades. “In the past two years, I don’t think my husband or I has bought a razor with cash,” says the mother of one in Brampton, Ont. In addition, she often emails companies directly. “I email companies with words of praise and ask for coupons,” she says. “You’d be surprised what they send you to say thanks for supporting us.” She’s using them to help with her upcoming wedding – she’s planning on offering her bridesmaids goodybags, for example, full of bodywash, razors, shampoos and more. And she saves between $40 and $90 per grocery trip. She says it just makes sense: “It’s a lovely way to save a few bucks, get brand-name items and spoil yourself a bit.”