5 ways to shop smarter and make your dollars S-T-R-E-T-C-H

5 ways to shop smarter and make your dollars S-T-R-E-T-C-H

School has just ended and here I am sitting here, late at night, thinking about all the items I will need for my son in September when he starts kindergarten. You see, I am a planner and what makes this fact even harder is that I am a frugal planner. This might take some extra time on my part but it has paid off big time for my family.

Most of my purchases for my family have been carefully planned out ahead of time so I can save the most amount of money possible. Since it would be very difficult to save a lot of money  on every single purchase, I have honed my skills to shop smarter, not harder. The key is to know what to look for, when to shop and to use the resources available for FREE!

I have a ton of tips but will give five I use the most:

1) My first and most favorite tip is to always look for free coupon codes before you dare add anything to your shopping cart or step foot in any store! This is a no brainer. You do not have to shop online to take advantage of coupon codes. Many retailers put out printable coupons to use in their stores online as well.

2) Stock up on out of season clearance items! All seasonal items have a sale cycles. For instance, I have noticed that in August I see insect repellent, sunscreen, swim suits, summer clothes & gardening supplies marked down significantly. This is when I make my move and stock up. When August rolls around I will be on the hunt for these items both online and in-store and will make sure I go about  getting promo codes for Kmart since I have one local to me with a huge garden department. I use this same tip to shop for my winter clearance items in February and March. Can you say $89.99 boys winter coat for $9.99? I can!

3) Shop in season too! I know I just told you to shop out of season but you can save big shopping during major sale cycles as well. A great example is with school supplies. I know that starting around August, I will be on the look out for major savings on pens, pencils, paper, glue sticks, crayons, backpacks, erasers, folders, binders etc. If you have a child in school you should never, ever, ever….are you listening….ever pay full price for these items!! I get most of these items for free before the school year even starts! If you are not a coupon person (even though you should be : ) you can still save. Staples, Office Max and even Toys R Us often have FREE paper with purchase or FREE binders after rebate types of deals showing up in their sales flyers around the end of July so keep your eyes peeled. BTW, the same types of sales show up right before tax season so be on the lookout for cheap or free pens, pencils, copy paper, folders, etc around March.

4) If the store you shop in has a free reward card, sign up! This tip applies to every type of store: grocery, drug, office supply, toy, clothing, big box, you name it, it’s worth it! I do not pay (or pay very little)  for most of my toiletries, basic office and craft supplies all because I take advantage of the rebates and “store cash” types of rewards that come with these cards. Do you see my keychain in the photo above? I practice what I preach! Another way to save is to sign up for store credit cards. You can often get coupons in the mail on a regular basis to help you save even more. Target even has a debit card attached to your bank account that saves you 5% off your purchase. Brilliant!

5) Finally I want to let you in a something you may not know. You can actually use coupons on Amazon. It’s true! There is a digital coupon section on their site that you just click on to “clip”. I have saved a ton of money on baby, personal care and food items. You can view coupons for Amazon  here and always know which ones are available. The coupons can only be used one time per account and seem to be based on your shopping history. A coupon that shows up on my account might not show up on yours. I am still trying to figure out how this works but for now I call it my happy little surprise.

I hope I have opened your eyes to to new ways to save. If you have any tips you would like to add please feel free to share. I love hearing new ways to save!

This post was sponsored by CouponCodes4u. All opinions are 100% mine.

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