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Let's keep each other informed whenever finding a coupon book. Book name, Store found at, location in store. Plus be kind don't take too many.
While learning the ropes there's been some areas that I see where "hidden costs" that can add up and ruin a potentially great deal. I thought WeUseCoupons readers might be interested in reading these common money traps and how to avoid them to get maximum savings!
1. Cost to Print Internet Printables (IP's). The Internet is FULL of coupons and it's sometimes amazing how many IP q's I'm printing and using. While it seems easy to print out those coupons, just remember there is a cost to print these. Below is some tips to reduce the cost of printing Internet Q's:
- Don't print in color. I've personally never had a B&W IP turned down at the store and since the vast majority of printers in the marketplace are B&W laser printers it seems realistic that your store will take them if you explain that's the only printer you have. Color is expensive to print! Depending on the density of coverage on a coupon and whether there is additional artwork/advertising below the Q it could cost anywhere from .07-.50 per page to print in color. A typical inkjet printer will cost about $.30 to print one 4x6 photograph and that's because the density is thick. So any Q with product images or advertising is expensive to print. So, try printing in B&W. Set your printer to a B&W Draft quality default if its inkjet or better yet pick up a used B&W laser printer. The cost to print with a B&W laser printer is about $.03 per page. Try looking on Craigslist for a used HP LaserJet or asking friends if they have an old laserjet in their garage they aren't using. Many people do!!
- Print only what you will use or need. Even with a B&W printer, it costs you money to print q's so only print what you are going to use.
- Try a re-manufactured toner or inkjet cartridge. You can usually have about 20-40% off the price an original cartridge. I use Staples brand re-manufactured toner cartridges and found the quality to be just as good as the original on toner.
2. Gas Prices Are Rising, Maximize your trip! Even if you are lucky enough to have lots of grocery and drugstores within a 5 mile radius, short trips back & forth multiple times per week will guzzle gas and eat up some of your savings. WUC is full of stories where people go to multiple CVS/Walgreens locations many times per week to roll RR's and ECB's. Try these tips to keep fuel costs down:
- Instead of buying, getting a RR/ECB, and going back later in the week, just roll without leaving the parking lot. If you are doing only 2 or 3 transactions it's pretty easy to ask the cashier to ring them up separately. It takes a little more planning on your part but is fairly easy to do. If there is a line to the cashier you might consider letting people with smaller orders ahead of you. If this doesn't work for you, make a trip, get your RR/ECB and go to your car for 5 minutes between trips. Read a book/magazine, answer emails, or make a phone call and go back in for your next roll.
- Just because it's free/cheap ask yourself if you really need/want it. I'm stockpiling for a baby and when Wags had free Baby Magic lotion I had the urge to keep going back for lotion and baby wash. But really I didn't need more than 3 of each so I stopped. While I might have been saving $3 in theory but it probably cost me $1 per trip on gas.
- Carpool with other shoppers, especially if the best deals are far away. 1 or 2 friends, co-workers, and people from church might want to carpool and share tips and q's with each other.
3. OYNO Trap. (On Your Next Order Catalinas) When you get a coupon for your next order like a RR or sometimes a Cat it's easy to deduct that from your total. Like the Wags Baby Magic deal where it cost $3 and you get $3 back. But you really didn't get it free if you paid cash $3 + tax for the product. You have to go back and buy something to redeem it. To keep it straight, don't apply the ONYO Q until it's redeemed.
4. Cost of Buying Coupons. Dumpster divers and others that get free q's amaze me. But if you're like me, you're buying a paper to get your q's and maybe you are buying on Ebay. Keep track of how much you are paying to get your q's as part of the deal. If you are buying 10 papers a week @ $2 per you are spending $80 a month + tax to get your Q's!! Here's some tips to remember about the cost of Q's:
- When buying papers, especially when you are new to couponing, buy only 1-2 papers and go to the car, look at the q's and see if there are q's that are particularly attractive to you and what your family wants/needs. If so, go back and buy more. If not, save yourself the money and leave the papers for others to buy. A win-win.
- Sometimes there is a particular coupon that you really want/need and its worth paying to buy on Ebay. When buying q's specific to one product figure out the per q price and add that to the price of the product.
You purchase 10 $2/1 Wisk Q on Ebay for $3.00 ($.30 each)
Wisk is on sale at Albertsons for $3.99 - $2.00 Q = $1.99 + .30 (cost of Q) = $2.29 + tax
5. Don't Forget About the Tax. If your state is like mine, you pay the tax on the total before coupons. So if you're buying a taxable product that you don't need but are buying because it's free/cheap you will be paying for part of it. Staples just did a free deal on office supplies but if you don't need those items, don't buy them because you will be paying tax which is almost 10% where I live!
6. The Cost of Your Time. To me, couponing is a great hobby that I really enjoy. However, there is a "high" associated with getting a good deal and it can be addictive. Like anything else, couponing in moderation is probably the most healthy approach. If you find that you are blowing off your friends and family or ignoring your kids you might want to re-evaluate how much time you are spending on coupons. Or, find a way to include them in on the fun. My point is to pay attention to the time you are spending and evaluate whether the savings justify the time investment.
If you have tips to add, please do! These are just ones I thought about this AM and thought it might help someone.
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