How to Get Started Couponing

by Rhonda Wylie on January 19, 2013

CouponCouponing is a great way to save money and make your dollars go further. In keeping with my goal to clean up the financial clutter in my life, I certainly want to save money where I can. The more saved, the sooner I can eliminate debt and reach goals. This new thinking launched me into the world of couponing, and I love the savings I have received. If you have thought of beginning to coupon, but not sure how to get started, then this article is for you.
Couponing is certainly not for wimps, as I found out when I decided to really get serious about couponing – well, okay, not as serious as those extreme couponers who now have their own reality TV show, but fairly serious. The main thing I found out is that it takes a lot of time, but for me, it was worth the effort. If you have some free time you can carve out of your week, then I recommend at least trying it for a while. It can become addicting very quickly. This being said, I want to share with you some of the key things I learned to start saving money as quickly as possible.
Red Plum and Smart Source
1. Figure out where you are going to get your coupons and plan to be diligent about retrieving these coupons weekly. The best sources I found are the newspaper (especially Sunday’s), online couponing sites (my favorite so far is http://moneysavingmom.com), flyers and value packs sent via the mail, direct coupons from manufacturers (you should ask for these), “All You” magazine, and manufacturers’ Facebook pages and company web sites (often if you “like” them, then you can print coupons.) Of course there are some other sources, such as the ones found on the back of register receipts (known as Catalina coupons) or those found directly on store shelves, but the ones mentioned are my favorites and will get you started. All You Magazine
2. Until you decide whether you’re going to stick with the couponing or not, I recommend buying the “All You” magazine and newspapers you’ll need. Your savings will make up for the costs. If you decide you want to continue couponing on a regular basis, then go ahead and subscribe to have these newspapers and magazine delivered. You’ll save more money this way.
3. Make sure you have a high quality color printer. You’ll need it to print the tons of online coupons that are available.
4. For those times when you stock up on a good deal, you’ll need some storage space in your home or garage. I bought some inexpensive storage shelves and placed them in our walk-in closet in a spare bedroom. As your stockpile grows, you can grow your storage space.
5. You’ll need a way to organize your coupons. I purchased a 3-ring binder and some clear sheets with sleeves to hold the coupons. I found these online.
6. Next you will need to decide how you want to divide your coupons so that they are easy to find. A few of the categories I came up with are: Meat & Dairy, Dry Goods, Frozen Foods, Breads & Cereal, Personal Care, Can Goods, Health Care, and Cleaning & Household. I ended up with about 15 categories. You will need to decide on these categories so they make sense for you, since every household is different.Coupon Book
7. If you plan to stick with the couponing, it’s wise to purchase a paper-cutter. When you have a lot of coupons to clip at one time, like you do when you get them out of the Sunday paper, it will make the process go a lot faster and smoother.
8. The key to couponing is to try to save the most money possible per item. The best way to do this is to combine coupons with store sales. This means you will need to look at the sale papers from the mail, newspapers, or company web sites each week. You will need to watch when the sale runs out and make sure you don’t miss a great opportunity to save money. When you see good deals on sale items, then that’s when you want to check to see if you have coupons. Also, you can hold coupons for everyday items such as toilet paper, and wait for those items to be on sale. The stores will run their sales according to what manufacturer coupons are available, because they know people want to combine sales with coupons. All stores will do it so then it’s up to you to try to find the best price.
9. When you realize a particular item is an extra good deal, then that’s when you’ll want to stock up, if possible. Often you can do this by searching online for a coupon and then making multiple colored copies of the coupons. Obviously you can’t do this for the ones clipped out of magazines or the newspapers.
10. Most importantly, when you’re using coupons, make sure you get the item exactly as the coupon specifies. Watch your sizes, flavors, colors; etc.
11. Be ready to spend a little extra time at the stores. Often the stores will want to match up coupons with each item. After you have a little experience, you’ll learn each store’s procedures. Also, pay careful attention when checking out, making sure you received your discounts.
12. Restaurant and individual store coupons are plentiful. Don’t forget to save these, as well.
13. Many stores, like Walgreens, Target and CVS, give cash back or gift cards for spending or buying certain items. These are great to use on return trips. For example, CVS gives extra bucks rewards. These are spent just like cash. However, you will not get change back, so make sure your purchase is as close as possible to the amount on your extra bucks.
14. In order to take advantage of store sales, most will require you to be a member of their club. Go ahead, it’s worth the savings. Keep these cards in a secure place to use when out shopping.
15. Always take your coupon book with you when shopping. You never know when you might see a clearance item you were not aware of, or something you forgot about. There are so many couponers these days, people are used to seeing couponers with their books in tow.
16. When in line, be respectful of other people. Your checkout may be slower than others, so if you see someone with a small amount, let them go ahead of you. People who do not coupon often get annoyed by people with a lot of coupons. I’ve even turned to the person behind me and let them know I had a lot of coupons and suggested they find another line. They seem very grateful for the suggestion, or they will say they don’t mind waiting. At least you can say you warned them.
17. Last, but not least, have fun with it. Often, it feels like going on a treasure hunt. Even though it is a lot of work, and requires a great deal of time, I feel like I’ve hit the lottery when I get a great bargain.
Couponing is the best way to save money on your everyday expenses. Isn’t that what we all want? Saving money through couponing is a great way to take control of your household finances. What are some of the ways and places you like to use coupons?

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Written by Rhonda Wylie

Rhonda Wylie

Rhonda is a self-taught entrepreneur, blogger, and aspiring freelance writer, who is always eager to take on new challenges. She is on a self-improvement mission of cleaning out the negative clutter of her own life so she can become a happier, healthier, and more productive individual. Her hope is to inspire each person to eliminate the negative clutter that’s weighing them down, so we can all live our best life EVER!

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