When it comes to your finances, do you take a head-on or head-in-the-sand approach? If you identify with the latter, then the good news is you're not alone. The bad news? You're not alone. New data suggests that when it comes to managing money, women are not as independent as you'd expect. In fact, 91% of women in couples are not participating in financial decisions. But we want to change that statistic. To help you become a master of your own finances, we're debuting a new series called The Paper Files, where we uncover tricks and tips that will help you manage your money and your future. Ready to take it head-on?
A cluster of women are gathered in a stylish loft in SoHo, New York, chattering away with excitement while they all stare down at their phones. "Oh my gosh that's so cheap!" one woman exclaims, glancing at her friend's screen. "I just bought it!" another quips. It might look like these women are taking part in a designer auction or online flash sale, but they're not. They're couponing.
A string of sleek coupon apps, including the host of this event, Flipp, is attracting a new crowd to the world of discount shopping. Consumer expert and personal finance writer Kerry Taylor says digital coupons save her upward of $1500 a year—all by using one simple app.
"I started using the app four years ago when the cost of feeding my growing family started eating into my savings," she tells MyDomaine. "I was never a fan of clipping coupons or searching through reams of paper flyers for sales, so when a friend introduced me to digital coupons and flyers, I was hooked with how easy it is to save money and cut costs."
New data from Investment Zen suggests Taylor and the well-heeled woman in that SoHo loft aren't outliers. In fact, research shows the average coupon user has a household income of over $100,000, holds a college degree, and saves roughly $1560 per year.
"The biggest savings though is my time—as an entrepreneur and mom I never had the time for cumbersome coupon-clipping, but technology has made it fast and easy," she explains.
Intrigued? Here, Taylor shares her top tips for using the new generation of coupon apps so you never have to pay full price again.
Note Sale Cycles
Learning to shop strategically is key to maximizing savings, says Taylor. "I'm a smarter shopper and a wiser consumer now." Before writing a shopping list, Taylor uses coupon app Flipp to monitor recurring sales. "[It's] opened my eyes to grocery sales cycles, so it's easy to plan ahead and save big money when I know toilet paper and laundry detergent are about to be on sale."
Know What Features Are Important to You
Electronic goods offer some of the biggest discounts, says Taylor. "Many tech retailers offer the best deals at the end of the month when they aim to meet sales targets and look to stock the newest gear," she explains.
Research the product and take note of what features you actually need. "Buying an older model or a refurbished item can save you 15% to 90%—so be sure to know what features are important to you."
Consider Seasonal Discounts
The best way to save money when buying home goods is to take note of seasonal discounts. "For example, I often see huge discounts on bicycles and patio furniture in September and holiday décor a week after the big event," she says. If you don't need the item urgently, you could make huge savings by waiting for a seasonal sale. Taylor's best-ever deal was a barista coffee machine, which she purchased for $500 less than the recommended retail price.
Make a Shopping List
"Knowing what you need to purchase as opposed to what you want can save you time and money," notes Taylor. Her top tip? Make a grocery list before you step foot in the store. She types her list into the app, which then searches for discounts on the items she needs. "I really don't have to do any work besides entering a simple list," she says.
Localize Your Search
"Since coupons can be national and regional, be sure to enter your ZIP code or postal code … so the app can localize your coupons to the nearest home goods retailer," she recommends. Taylor notes that the biggest furniture discounts tend to fall in December and August. "I saved an easy $150 on my new fridge just by being patient and watching the sales."
Have you ever used a coupon app? Tell us if you'd recommend it.