By: Meagan Esler
The price of everything seems to be increasing. Grocery costs, gasoline costs, and, of course, healthcare costs are steadily rising. If you’ve ever wondered how you were going to pay for your next bottle of insulin or test strips without cutting back on buying necessities like food, I am here to give you some tips. Despite my health insurance, living with diabetes is incredibly expensive. Years ago I had to walk away from my test strips at the pharmacy because I couldn’t cover the cost, so I decided to get creative with finding other ways to save money.
Here are a few things that have helped me:
I clip coupons, lots of them. Don’t laugh. You can actually save a ton of money with coupons. While I always thought coupons meant saving $.50 or $1.00 on a shopping trip, I found out that I could save a sizeable amount each week on things I need and already buy. While the savings vary from week to week depending on what is on sale and what coupons are offered, I currently save approximately $50 to $100 in paper coupons and online deals every week. I purchase two to three newspapers each Sunday for the coupon inserts. I bring the newspapers to a resale shop to re-use them as wrapping paper once I’ve collected my coupon inserts so that nothing goes to waste.
There are some little-known tricks with coupons. You can match a manufacturer’s coupon and a store coupon on the same item. Look for matching manufacturer coupons on manufacturer websites, social media, the newspapers and websites like Coupons.com. You’d be amazed at how much you can save!
Make sure to also take advantage of mail-in rebates. I have gotten a variety of items for free simply by following the guidelines on the rebate form and by sending in the paperwork on time.
Of course, there are some catches when couponing. You have to be knowledgeable about your local store’s coupon policy as they widely vary between states and are subject to change at a moment’s notice. There are frequently limits on items, for example some stores allow only one purchase per customer, some allow up to four in my area. There are also limits on the amount of coupons you are allowed to print from each computer, generally two prints are allowed. You are in luck if you have access to more than one computer so you can stock up on items during deep discounts. Certain retailers accept competitor coupons and some even accept expired manufacturer coupons. I learned the hard way not to discard coupons until they have been expired for 30 days after I got rid of a coupon that meant I could have purchased brand name toothpaste for just $0.13 a tube during a sale at a local store.
Another great source of savings is to price-match if you can. A local retailer in my area offers price-matching on items that are advertised in competitor’s retailer advertisements. This means you don’t have to run to three or four different stores to score the big deals. Just bring the advertisements in and they’ll match the sale prices. One-stop shopping is always a big time and gasoline saver. Combine this strategy with coupons and you’ll really rake in the savings.
I once saved $114 on a transaction that originally retailed for $301. I was lucky enough to have a rare 20% off store coupon and I combined it with my other coupons and an online deal. It’s pretty thrilling to save the retail amount of a box of blood sugar test strips in one transaction!
Sure, those kind of savings don’t happen every day, and it is a lot of work, but my thought when I started using coupons was “even if I can just save enough to pay the co-pay on my insulin each month, it’ll help”, and boy did it. I’m still learning, so if you have any money-saving tips for me, please share!
I wish you the best of luck if you decide to invest time in coupon clipping and price-matching. Before you know it, you’ll be hooked too!