Despite talk of a return to economic stability, wages continue to fall behind the rising cost of living, which means that we are all on the lookout for a saving here or price cut there. Although there are some genuine bargains around, there are other ways to save as supermarkets and stores offer loyalty cards, bespoke vouchers and savings deals.
The internet has proven itself as a valuable place to make savings. Comparison sites, cash back deals and downloadable vouchers for everything from in-store discounts to 2 for 1 meals all make it easy to search for savings. If you have a particular shop in mind, it is always worth checking online to see if there are any deals, as it could potentially result in a big saving with minimal effort.
‘Extreme couponing’ has boomed during the recession. It is a craze that seemingly began in America, and has found its way over to Britain. It takes the old-fashioned savviness of cutting out a discount voucher from a magazine to a whole new level. Magazines and newspapers have always been a good source of discount coupons, alongside shops own magazines and flyers, which don’t always limit what they offer to their own products. The internet, however, has opened up a world of unlimited possibilities.
Other ways to save
- Loyalty cards and ‘stamp cards’ are also a good way of saving. Many stores offer freebies or money off the more you buy. This is particularly helpful for regular purchases, such as your morning coffee, a haircut or beauty treatment.
- Free product samples are also available from some manufacturers via competitions and surveys, either on or offline. The drawback with most of these, however, is that to get your freebie, you normally have to sign up for regular newsletters, either via email or in the post. But there is always the opportunity to unsubscribe at any point.
- ‘Stockpiling‘ non-perishable goods when on offer, often when it requires you to buy in bulk or when a voucher has an expiry date.
- Check with the manufacturer. Many producers are now online and on social media sites, such as Facebook. ‘Liking’ the page or signing up to subscription newsletters can often be repaid with a coupon or information about forthcoming offers.
- Complain. If you have a valid complaint, tell the manufacturer. Often this will be returned with a discount voucher or free gifts.
Think before you shop
Don’t leave the coupons at home. Yes, you may have a lot of paper with you, but why pay when you can save?
Appraise yourself of the ‘tricks’ stores can use to encourage you to spend more than you intended to, once through the shop door. Don’t just buy things because you have a voucher or because it is a ‘good deal’, it might sound common sense, but ask yourself ‘do I really need this?’
The small print
Many coupons have restrictions in their Terms and Conditions. Limitations will often apply, such as ‘one per household, particular size of product or to a particular store. Often, for example, offers will be limited to high street stores only, specifically excluding concessions and places such as railway stations. Always read the fine-print, particularly if you are going to make a complaint.
Vouchers will often state that they ‘cannot be used in conjunction with other offers’. This means that the voucher might not be as effective as the other offers that are available, such as buy one get one free (BOGOF) o3 for 2. Again, check the small print.