Search the weekly ads. Learn the best way to use coupons. Surf the web. Share with others. Women are learning how to save money by working online and networking together.
In these tough financial times, families struggle to put food on the table. Many are facing this crisis by learning how to save money and work online, networking together by sharing what they learn along the way. This has created a phenomenon of coupon blogs and internet sites all devoted to teaching others how to save money.
Major Coupon Networks and Companies
Most people are familiar with the coupon inserts found in the Sunday newspaper. The three main companies that provide these coupons are Smart Source, Red Plum and Proctor & Gamble. All three companies also provide coupons online. Providing printable coupons on the internet makes collecting and sharing coupons with others very simple.
Six years ago, two women, Julie Parrish and Heidi Kennedy, met on an internet chat group that discussed ways to save money on groceries. When that site closed, they joined another group and became group moderators. That site eventually sold. Julie and Heidi were ready create a coupon website of their own. These two women have never met in person. They communicate by means of the telephone and the internet.
In 2003, their site, Hot Coupon World began with 176 members. Today it boast over 120,000 members and counting. The main focus is teaching people how to get the most out of coupon shopping. It's not just an informational websites, but also offers forums, chat groups and a free blog service. This provides an avenue of networking among members and continues to generate growth as the site gains in popularity.
A similar story, is about a woman named Teri Gault. Teri enjoyed cutting coupons and saving her family money. She learned to match up grocery coupons to weekly grocery sale ads. She shared this information with friends and family. It wasn't long until everyone realized this wasn't just a hobby for Teri. It was now a game of predicting sales and matching coupons to those sales for maximum savings.
Teri Gault is the founder and CEO of The Grocery Game. It's a system of matching store sales with manufacturer coupons. Members pay a fee to receive a computer generated list of stores in their area matched up with upcoming sales and coupons. It's a unique device for people who want to save but don't have the time or the desire to look for savings on their own.
Several small companies have started up on the same premise, but on a much smaller scale. Each one, in their own way, teach people how to spend less and save more. For most of these people, using coupons, bargain shopping and deal seeking becomes a way of life. One doesn't just cut coupons and shop the weekly ads. Terms like stockpiling, coupon stacking, and register rebates have become topics of everyday conversation among coupon circles, blogs and chat groups.
Basic Information for Beginners
Coupon shopping can be frustrating for the beginner. Every store has a coupon policy. Learn the policy for local stores. Join an online or local coupon group to learn tips and strategies to maximize savings.
Coupon Stacking – This is the strategy of using both a store coupon and a manufacturer's coupon all on the same item. To build repeat customers, some stores allow patrons to use several of both in one transaction. This leads to stockpiling.
Stockpiling – Start collecting both store and manufacture coupons, while watching weekly sales. When an item is on sale, take the stockpile of coupons and buy the item in large quantities to save the most money. Occasionally, combining such techniques like coupon stacking and stockpiling can mean obtaining the item free or almost free.
Rebates – This is a way for manufacturers and retailers to reward consumers for purchasing their products. There are usually two kinds of rebates, instant and mail-in. Instant rebates can either be cash off an item at the register or cash off the next purchase at that store. If the rebate is in the form of cash off the next store purchase, the rebate will be printed on the front or back of the receipt. A mail-in rebate will eventually be a cash refund. In order to receive the rebate, the customer mails in the rebate form along with the original cash register receipt showing proof of purchase. Mail-in rebates usually take 4-8 weeks to process. The manufacture sends a check in the mail, and the customer cashes it.
Make Shopping a Game
Create a monthly challenge. Each month, make it a goal to save more than the month before. Find ways to collect more coupons, stack more deals and earn more rebates. Over time, shoppers learn pricing and predict when items will go on sale. Be a winner. Use these strategies to buy more for less.