- Time is money. Before you buy things (especially big ticket items, but small stuff adds up too), think about how many hours you'd have to work to pay for it. This will hopefully deter you from impulse buys, and if it doesn't, it at least reminds you how much of your life a purchase costs. Think about this especially for things that seem to be great deals, because as good as it feels to get something cheap, if it's just going to sit unworn in your closet or take up space in your house, it's not a deal at all.
- A coupon is only a deal if you were going to buy the item regardless. This should be self-explanatory, but I know it's not. $3 > $0, always. Unless that box of cereal was already on your list, getting it on sale is still more money than you went into the store planning to spend.
- There will always be another sale. Similarly, never feel pressured to use a coupon just because it's expiring. Chances are another coupon will take it's place very soon.
- Sign up for memberships. Don't go crazy on this one, because less is usually more, but if there are stores you frequent regularly, make sure you are enrolled in whatever rewards program they offer. Some are points/dollars spent based while others send freebies and coupons your way, but either way, if you're a regular customer somewhere, you might as well get a few treats along the way.
- My favorite memberships are through Target (having a RedCard gets you 5% off every purchase, if you use the pharmacy you get another 5% off after every 5 prescriptions filled, AND with their Cartwheel app you get discounts for tons of everyday things), Redbox (sign up for emails/texts and treat yourself to free movies on a fairly regular basis, plus another free rental for every 10 rentals through Play Pass), and Walgreens's Balance Rewards (points add up on every purchase and can be redeemed for future discounts).
- Sometimes the better deal is the one you don't need a coupon for. Example: shopping at Aldi is always cheaper than shopping anywhere else, even with coupons.
- At the end of the day, do what feels best for you and your budget. Have you been getting by just fine sans coupons and rewards? Then don't worry about all of this. Do you get joy from coupon clipping and using? Then keep on keepin' on! Whatever system you use has to work for you.