Coupon Class 101
Welcome to coupon class! You’re about to embark on a fun and profitable adventure. Before we get started, let me say this: this is NOT going to be the kind of couponing that requires hours of work and leaves you with a year’s supply of Ramen noodles and bleach, but great ways to pick up products that YOU want and enjoy – name brand makeup, yummy new grocery products, and a whole lot more, for mere pennies (or even free!). The best part? You don’t need to devote more than one hour a week of your life OR resort to dumpster diving for coupons.
So let’s get started!
Why should I listen to you? Good question. First, I have been couponing for three years, ever since I started law school. In my first six months of couponing, I built up a stockpile of soap, shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste, toilet paper and other beauty supplies including makeup and vitamins. It filled four shelves completely in my linen closet. That was 2 1/2 years ago and I am STILL using those products. I have yet to run out. How much did I spend on four shelves? Maybe $50.00. About seventy percent of it was FREE. Not a penny. When you consider that the average price for a typical person’s toiletries (soap, shampoo, toothpaste, vitamins, beauty products) is roughly $50.00 a month, I have saved $1,500 in the past 2 1/2 years AND gotten all of those products to use. And that is just what I have saved on personal products. I haven’t even gotten into food and cleaning supplies.
What do I need? First, you need are two things: a printer and the Sunday paper. That’s it. No dumpster diving or stealing neighbor’s papers or anything crazy like that. Friends or relatives who want to pass on coupons they don’t use are helpful, too! There are some great resources out there, but we will touch on those later.
What do I clip? Whatever you want to buy! If I think I could use the coupon, I clip it. If I’ve bought the product before, I clip it. If it is something of a high value – buy one get one, a dollar off, etc – I clip it. You never know when the product will come in handy, and if it is a non-perishable (soap, canned goods) you can put it away until you need it.
I Clipped Them – Now What? You need to come up with your game plan. This is where my *FAVORITE* coupon resource comes in, CouponMom! (www.couponmom.com) This lady should have a gold medal in couponing. She makes a list for EVERY store -grocery and pharmacy and specialty – in EVERY state across the country and matches their weekly sales up with current coupons. For example: if you live in Michigan, you can select your state and lists will come up of all the stores in your area, what is one sale, and what coupons to use. She sets it up so you know how much you save on each item, places where you will make a profit, and what rules come along with that store. It’s THAT simple. No tracking sales, no scouring ads, it is all laid out for you right there. This cuts couponing time down to mere minutes.
I want more coupons! Coupon clipping services are great. You invest five to fifty cents per coupon and you can get some unbelievable deals. That way you can get more of a particular product that you want. You do need to be careful, though, because some stores and coupons limit the number of coupons you can use per transaction.
Another fantastic investment is the magazine AllYou. It’s sold exclusively at Wal-Mart, but you can subscribe online, and it comes every few weeks with HUNDREDS of dollars of coupons, things you won’t find anywhere else. It’s probably the best 20.00 I’ve spent since I started couponing. And that’s for an entire year of issues. It also has great money saving advice, recipes, and articles.
Ask friends and family to pass on coupons that they do not use. One of my most valuable sources of coupons is my mother-in-law!
Reward Cards are offered at a lot of stores these days. Kroger, Giant Eagle, RiteAid, Walgreens and many, many other stores have coupons and savings specific to that store. Sign up for as many as you can.
Customer Service Desks are invaluable. Since the popularity of couponing, some stores have changed their policies on how many coupons you can use and and on what. No two stores have the same policy, so it is important to keep up to date. Just ask!
A lot of them change every day, so keep looking back.
Coupon match up blogs:
www.couponmom.com (my favorite)
These sites will also tell you when coupons change and where to find what. So you don’t have to worry about forgetting sales because they list them and tell you which coupon to use.
Money saving tips:
www.couponmap.com Now this is really cool, it shows coupons in your town for restaurants, mechanics, stores, everything!
STILL not convinced? Here’s a testimonial!
I was inspired by being competitive with everyday things. I like to challenge myself to see how much I can save or how low I can get my bill. I really like money. I already shop at thrift shops and places like Ross… so why not save on everything else?Be patient. You’ll get the hang of it. Also, only cut coupons for things you use. Be realistic. I But more importantly, be patient. If you fall off the bandwagon and some coupons expire, and you still want to try, go get more!
– Kat, Pennsylvania.
Still have questions? Use the form below and I’ll do my best to walk you through it!