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We’ve all done it before, cut coupons, signed up for loyalty programs and relentlessly shopped (stalked) the sales. Saving money is always on trend and we want 2015 to be the year you actually use those coupons, take advantage of the loyalty programs and successfully shop the sales.

The shopping experience has changed drastically over the last decade and it isn’t showing any signs of slowing down, so when it comes to saving we need to be clever and creative. We shop everywhere and anywhere these days, online, in person and over the phone and the sheer number of places to purchase the same item can be quite overwhelming. You’ve probably seen the infamous TLC show Extreme Couponing and the thought of couponing on that level probably makes you never want to cut a coupon ever again. We feel the same way. But, we also feel like everyone needs a bit of a break when it comes to spending their hard-earned money. So we put together a short guide on how to become an extreme saver, coupons or not.

In Store Couponing

In store coupons, either the best thing that has ever happened or your worst nightmare. If you’ve always been a hater of the in store coupon and would rather be doing literally anything else than spending your free time clipping them, let those feelings go because we have some advice that will save your sanity and your money.

Being an in-store couponer doesn’t mean you have to spend hours doing the math and stalking the aisles of your local grocery store. It simply means that you’re taking advantage of an opportunity to save some money or get a great deal on an item you were planning on buying at full price. Here are a few tips to help ease your way into the in-store couponing world.

  • Tip 1: If you purchase your groceries at the same store each week then take a moment to see if the store prints weekly coupons. No need to run all around town to use coupons at 5 different groceries stores.
  • Tip 2: Discount and big box stores (think Walmart and Costco) almost always have printable coupons on their websites. If you’re going to brave the crowds you might as well save some cash.
  • Tip 3: Finding coupons that can be used in Canada can be a bit difficult. But there are plenty of Canada specific coupon websites that distribute coupons for countless products. Try out save.ca, pgeveryday.ca, groceryalerts.ca and smartcanucks.ca.

Just remember that in-store couponing doesn’t have to feel like an Olympic sport. Taking a few extra minutes before you head out to shop is a great way to incorporate money saving into your daily life.

Online Couponing

If you’re more of an online shopper and in-store, couponing is really not your idea of fun then you should definitely be aware that you can get online coupons for your favourite stores. Not all online retailers have them and they usually come with an expiry date but an extra 20% off never hurt anyone. Here are our top tips to help you conquer online couponing.

  • Tip 1: Sign up to get emails from your favourite online retailers; they sometimes give out coupon codes to their loyal customers. You’ll also be the first to know when a special sale is going on and you’ll have first dips on the best merchandise.
  • Tip 2: Wait as long as you possibly can for a sale or coupon code. Online store tends to always have sales and special deals, so try to never pay full price for something, chances are there’ll be some kind of deal in a couple of weeks.
  • Tip 3: Technically this isn’t a couponing tip but since we’re always looking to save money, beware of extra shipping and duties charges. Shipping isn’t free and if you’re trying to buy something from a different country you’ll likely be slapped with a serious duty charge upon the arrival of your package.
  • Tip 4: sign up for local deals sites such as Groupon, and LivingSocial.

Online shopping isn’t for everyone but if you love the convenience of it then you’ll definitely love saving some extra cash, be smart and try not to make too many impulse purchases. Double check for coupon codes and deals before you make your purchase.

Loyalty Programs

This one is a bit tricky as loyalty programs revolve around you purchasing a lot before you see any kind of discount or deal. Our top tip, only sign up for loyalty programs if you frequently shop at the store and definitely only if the program is free.

  • Airmiles is always a great choice but if you don’t shop at any stores that give out Airmiles then the card might just be taking up too much room in your wallet.
  • One type of loyalty program that we think everyone should be a member of is the gas company loyalty program. Chose whatever gas station you frequent the most and sign up, you might not accumulate that many points but hey, one free tank of gas a year is better than no free gas.

Aside from your local gas station reward program and maybe Airmiles the rest is completely up to you and your lifestyle. Just try not to spend money at a store simply because you’re a part of their loyalty program, we’re trying to save money, not spend it unnecessarily.

Flash Sale Sites

Flash sale sites are great if you’re in the market for something specific that you can’t quite seem to find or aren’t willing to pay full price for it. But the problem is, flash sale sites are also great for wasting your money and purchasing items you really don’t need. We suggest that you only subscribe to the flash sale sites that have items and products you actually need or use. There’s nothing worse for your bank account than constantly being bombarded with emails for discount toasters and waffle irons, especially when you already have a great toaster and you hate waffles.

For the most part flash sale sites that cater to a Canada audience mostly sell discounted designer women’s fashion. This makes sense as designer fashion is expensive so most people like to purchase it on sale. But if you’re looking for a site that has a little of everything then the Montreal-based company Beyond the Rack might be worth looking into.

  • Beyond the Rack is a Canadian flash sale site that offers discounted clothing, home decor items and even small kitchen appliances. If you’re looking for something specific then definitely signup, but if you’re just perusing then you might be tempted to purchase something you don’t need.

No matter what you spend your money on there are, without a doubt, countless ways for you to shop smart and save lots. So before you make your next big purchase or head to the grocery store for next week’s groceries, do a little research and find a couple of coupons or a great discount code.

Caitlin Wood, BA avatar on Loans Canada
Caitlin Wood, BA

Caitlin Wood is the Editor-in-Chief at Loans Canada and specializes in personal finance. She is a graduate of Dawson College and Concordia University and has been working in the personal finance industry for over eight years. Caitlin has covered various subjects such as debt, credit, and loans. Her work has been published on Zoocasa, GoDaddy, and deBanked. She believes that education and knowledge are the two most important factors in the creation of healthy financial habits. She also believes that openly discussing money and credit, and the responsibilities that come with them can lead to better decisions and a greater sense of financial security.

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