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Couponing 101: Part II of interview with renowned money saving expert

February 12th, 2014 11:15 am by Amanda Arnold-Drinnon

Couponing 101:  Part II of interview with renowned money saving expert

Last week, money saving expert, Andrea Woroch shared some amazing tips about meeting that New Year’s resolution to save money. To recap, her advice included:

1.Track your spending habits and target specific places that you need to reduce costs in your budget. (www.mint.com)

2.Sell unused gift cards at sites like Gift Card Granny (www.giftcardgranny.com) to turn unused gift cards into useable cash.

3.Use your mobile apps to help save money at the register. (Andrea suggested Coupon Sherpa (www.couponsherpa.com).

4.Utilize price comparison and price matching.

5.Talk to sales associates. Find out about upcoming sales and ask for coupons.

6.Explore generic brands.

7.Don’t spend a lot of money on kid’s clothes. Buy consignment, use hand-me-downs, or use online consignment stores like Thred Up (www.thredup.com).

8.Cut back on prepackaged convenience foods.

9.Talk to your physicians about payment plans and free samples.

10.See if your prescription is cheaper at a Sam’s or Costco club. Woroch said that according to federal law, you do not have to be a member to use their pharmacy.

This week, Woroch shared even more tips and advice.

Amanda: What are the best saving tips for the technology savvy shoppers?

Andrea: The top tip for the technology savvy is to definitively use their mobile phone apps to help them shop better. Earlier, I mentioned Coupon Sherpa (www.couponsherpa.com),a mobile coupon app. It pulls up coupons (on your phone) based on your location. All you have to do is pull it up, tap on the app, and the coupons load for the store. You can save right at the register. (Just show them the coupons on your phone.)

Also, Sears and Kmart have a mobile app called “Shop Your Way” and it’s the same idea. You can use this app to help find extra savings in stores. So, if you are concerned that you might miss or forget a coupon, then having the app can still get you those extra savings.

Another cool app is called Hukkster (www.hukkster.com). It’s a price tracking alert app. If there is something that you want to buy that you think is too expensive right now, it will alert you if a sale comes up or if coupons become available so that you don’t have to keep searching…

The technology that is available now really helps us to be better shoppers and make smarter decisions when it comes to making purchases. But also, it can be a little tensing if you have all of these apps, Facebook posts about different deals, and maybe 100 e-mail offers of flash sale prices of designer brands. Although there are so many ways to save, you do need to be conscious of the deals…Not buying everything that is a great deal. The deals will always be there.

One other thing that really isn’t specific to tech savvy shoppers is to make sure that you are taking advantage of all of the rewards that are available. Retailers are really competitive so the reward programs are getting richer and richer. There are points or store dollars that you earn and redeem to get money off of future purchases. Sears and Kmart, for instance, have the “Shop Your Way” loyalty program and during the holidays you may have received up to 10 points for every dollar spent. Those are buying generated savings. You can use earned points to redeem on necessary purchases to offset total costs.

Amanda: Grocery prices seem to constantly be on the rise. Many stores have loyalty programs, but what are some other ways we can save at the grocery store?

Andrea: One tip for grocery shopping is watching your impulse purchases. Grocery stores thrive on impulse purchases. In fact, 50 percent of their sales are impulse purchases, whether it is an extra something that you want to try, or your kids see a toy and you don’t want a fight to put up with. One way to cut back on impulse purchases is to shop less often. So, if you go to the grocery store three times a week and you average $10 in impulse purchases each time you go-that’s an extra $30 a week that you’ve spent that you did not plan to. If you just go once, you have reduced your impulse opportunities by two times and you’re going to save $20 a week.

Also, to control impulse purchases, have a list. It is so important to have a list, not only so that you are sticking to it and not buying stuff that you don’t need, but also so that you don’t forget that really important ingredient that you need for your lasagna, potluck, or whatever you are making this week...It’s sort of like a snowball effect on your purchases.

Also, consider using a hand basket instead of a cart. If you are doing a huge shopping trip for your family you might need a cart, but if you are just running in for a few staples-grab a basket. This way you don’t fill it up with things that you don’t need. Once it starts getting heavy and you are carrying it you are going to realize, “Oh, my gosh, I don’t need this, I need to control what I’m spending, let me put this back.” It will keep you from over spending. The large carts that you see are created to make you think that you don’t have much stuff in there and you just keep adding stuff. It’s a marketing ploy.

Another tip is to double your meat. When you can, combine your meat for the week. Stock up on sales and store it in the freezer. Pay attention to price per unit. Smaller units, like chicken tenders, are going to cost more than if you buy the bigger cuts of meat-and sometimes the butcher at the grocery store might even cut it for free, if you ask. It always pays to buy the bigger cuts of meat.

Amanda: If you could only give us three saving tips, what would they be?

Andrea:

1. One of the most important would be to really know how you are spending your money.

Understanding how you spend and tracking your spending is going to help you realize where you can cut back. It’s kind of like tracking your calories, and how much you are eating…If you’re loading down and you see how many calories you had at lunch, you might not want to eat that many for dinner. You realize that you are going over and gaining weight. So, if you are tracking how much you’re spending, you are going to realize when you don’t really need something and you’re going to cut back and make smarter purchasing decisions.

2. Don’t buy anything at full price or without a coupon. Stores do sales cycles. You can always find a coupon. If one is not available for that store, go to another store, look on-line, check your phone, and look on Couponsherpa.com.

3. Take advantage of all the store loyalty programs. Make sure that you sign up for them because it will help you stay alert on upcoming sales and deals. It will help you save on necessary purchases.

Amanda: Are there any other tips that you would like to share?

Andrea: For seasoned savers, look around your house and think about not only saving money, but how can I make a little extra money? You can sell so many things online these days. You have Recycle Your Fashions Online Consignment (www.recycleyourfashions.com) . They make it so easy for you to send your clothing. They send you a shipping label so that you don’t even have to pay to ship it to the company! They will sell your clothes and cut you a check for 50 percent of whatever it sells for. If you have a wardrobe full of clothes that you are not wearing, accessories, kid’s clothes (then get rid of them), and send the items to them (Recycle Your Fashions) and make some money. Also, if you have unused gift cards for stores that you don’t shop at, but you need the money to help pay the bills, sell your gift cards online. You can sell your jewelry online at sites like Ex-boyfriend Jewelry (www.exboyfriendjewelry.com). You can also sell your old DVDs, video games, mobile devices, and old technology devices at sites like Gazelle (www.gazelle.com). So, these are just a few ideas for ways you could get rid of clutter in your house and make money.

Of course, there are Ebay and Craigslist and a lot of people know about them. They are so underutilized! They are really great ways to save and make a little extra money. I used Ebay over the winter and made $250, which I used for my holiday shopping. So, I basically didn’t have to spend as much money for the holidays, which made it so nice. So, really think about these things. It’s also great to let your kids help you declutter and sell items. It teaches them some valuable money tips for the future.

Thank you to Ms. Woroch for taking the time out of her schedule to give us these great tips and thank you to Elizabeth Epstein with Zeno Group for arranging the interview.

As always, find what works best for you. Saving is not all or nothing. Every little bit helps.

Please send all questions, comments, and/or tips to aarnold@timesnews.net. I look forward to hearing from you!

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