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Couponing: A fun way to be frugal!

 When I get together with my friends, we often talk about different ways to spend money, whether it's specials for meals, discounts on rental cars, savings on clothing, or last-minute savings on trips. Some savings are harder to find than others. For the dedicated saver, there are plenty of ways to save money -- and couponing is just one of them.


Take care when you use coupons.

Let's say that you find a coupon that gives you savings on deodorant -- but you have to buy four sticks instead of just one, and you've never tried that brand before. So you buy the bulk pack, steam open the first container, and then you realize that you're going to be smelling much more like a floral afternoon than you thought when you first saw the packaging. Are you going to stay committed to the deodorant and use all four containers? Or are you going to put them in the back of a cabinet and then go back to your tried and true brand?

Couponing apps can come in handy. Before you go to the store for your next shopping excursion, check out your couponing apps to see what is on sale. Often you'll find combinations of items (such as milk and breakfast sausage, or snack foods and sodas). Make sure that you need (and will actually use) all of the items in the combination -- otherwise, you're spending money to save money, which does not make a lot of sense. This also helps when you're shopping for something other than groceries. Promo codes offered by many retailers and coupon stores, for example and can come in handy big time when you head to the online checkout.

Plan your meals for the week and then see what coupons will help you out.

Many times, your coupons for edibles will end up saving you money on processed foods (pasta, prepackaged side dishes) or prepared entrees that are frozen (lasagnas, enchiladas, tacos and the like). If you plan out what you want to eat for the week, you can then use your selections to find the best deals. If those couponing apps show you great deals on some entrees, though, you can go ahead and revise your meal outline for the week on the basis of what you save.

List all of the ingredients that you will need for each meal, so that you don't end up standing over your stove and realizing that you are missing two or three key ingredients -- the type that will ruin your dinner if you don't have them. Then you're more likely to order out for Chinese or a pizza -- and the cost of that can undo your savings plan for the entire week. There are apps that will allow you to enter the ingredients that you have, and then they will show you recipes that you can make using what is in the pantry. You'll save money -- and you'll end up eating healthier most of the time.

Couponing is a great way to save money and make your money stretch further each month. Putting these tips to work for you will reduce stress and expand the room in your budget.


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