Being a work-at-home mom is more than a full-time job; it’s a lifetime job. You don’t have scheduled start and end times, breaks, or even meals unless you wrestle your schedule into submission. Applying yourself to your work-at-home career while raising your family takes strength, determination, inspiration, creativity, and so much more – but one thing it always takes is resources.

There are many ways to stretch your dollar, many of which are already outlined on this site, but there’s another resource to help you get the best products for your family at the best price: coupons. That doesn’t have to mean sitting at your desk, wasting your valuable time clipping coupons when you could be accomplishing something on your long to-do list. It does require a time investment, but you’ll be back to work in no time when you go online for your coupon needs. There are several ways to use coupon websites, whether you’re switching to them as your sole coupon source or adding them to your clippings. To learn more about how to successfully troll the online savings waters, check out some of the following tips and websites.

Online Savings: What to Look For

When it comes to saving money online, there are several different types of coupons to try – based on your specific needs and preferences, you can choose the type or combination that best serves you.

  • Paper Coupons: You can order pre-clipped coupons from websites that offer them, paying a low percentage of the coupon savings (usually 10-20%) plus shipping and handling. Some of these websites also charge an annual membership fee, but it tends to be reasonable at around $10. If you use every coupon you order, you’ll still be saving a considerable amount, but it’s not for everyone. It works best if you routinely buy large quantities of a wide variety of items – the trade-off here is that most paper coupon sites offer hundreds of thousands of coupons, whereas other types of coupon sites offer a thousand at best. You can save on more items with paper coupons, but if you don’t have a wide variety on your list, they might not be the best choice for you. Example: TheCouponClippers.
  • Printable Coupons: Websites that offer printable coupons typically don’t charge you anything, but their selection is often limited – many of them max out at under 100. Some of these sites also have specific software that you need to install in order to print their coupons, but again, you don’t have to pay for it – manufacturers pay these sites to offer a limited number of coupons in order to increase their visibility. You’ll use up some paper and ink, but in the end, printing coupons is often worth your while. Example: Coupons.
  • Coupon Codes: If you’re a consistent online shopper, coupon codes will be helpful. Simply enter them at checkout and you’ll get the savings – several websites offer updated lists of coupon codes, so all you have to do is keep checking for your favorite stores to release codes. Example: RetailMeNot.

Tips to Maximize Your Savings

Finding and getting the coupons and codes for the products you use is only half the battle. You also need to stay aware of several factors that can influence the success of your coupon “clipping” – these tips can help you stay on top of your savings.

  • Check Dates: Make sure that the coupons and codes you get are valid for when you want to use them.
  • Check Compatibility: If you have multiple coupons for the same item, how many of them can you get in one trip while still saving on each? Some coupons are more flexible than others, but you’ll need to know exactly how you can use them if you’re going to stretch your dollar to its limits.
  • Plan Ahead: If you choose to order paper coupons, you can increase your savings by planning ahead. This is especially effective if you plan your meals by the month or more because the best way to take advantage of this service is to know exactly what you’ll need, when you’ll need it, and how much of it you’ll use.

For example, if your family uses ten boxes of spaghetti noodles each month, order ten coupons at a time – but only if you can use them before they expire. Compatibility is key here – if you can use ten coupons at once, there’s no reason to get any fewer. But if you can only use two at once, you’ll have to make five grocery store runs before your coupons expire. Depending on your schedule and the coupons’ flexibility, you’ll need to make informed and accurate decisions in order to save the most.

No matter what you do, check your favorite coupon sites consistently – at least once a day – to make sure you don’t miss a big coupon for a product you use often. It’s easy to get lost on these sites, so make sure you don’t waste time. Setting a timer or letting the laundry buzzer remind you to get going on something else can help you stay on schedule while saving the money you work so hard to make.

Bio: Maria Rainier is a freelance writer and blog junkie. She is currently a resident blogger at First in Education, where recently she’s been researching music degrees and blogging about student life. In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.

Image source:  parentsconnectdotcom

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