I almost watched Extreme Couponing on TLC last night, but then decided against it. Seemed like a bad idea to get all motivated to be a crazy couponer when the reality is I don’t have time right now. For a while there I was totally organized and into it. I was getting free stuff at CVS every week. Sometimes more than once a week! I was surprised how much I could get for just pennies.
If you are interested in getting free stuff at the grocery store or the drug store, there are a bazillion web sites to help with that. Before you get started, let me share a few things that I learned the hard way. I just wasn’t convinced at first.
1. You need motivation. You need to separate SAVING from NOT SPENDING. I can’t stand it when people say, “I just saved so much money!” when in fact, they just didn’t spend so much money. It’s only saved if you don’t spend it! For example: some people set a reasonable grocery budget, use coupons to get discounts, and then put the money saved in a special accounts towards a savings goal. Maybe you want to put that money towards paying off debt or maybe you want to save for an iPad. Coupons are used by some people who either don’t have the money to spend, or people who have other things to spend the money on. I fall into that category. I try to keep my toiletry budget to a bare minimum so that I can spend that money on fun stuff. Who wants to spend $4 on a toothbrush when you could spend $4 on a latte?
1. You need multiple copies of the Sunday paper. In order to get the best deals, you need multiple coupons for the same item. If an item is buy one, get one free…you want 2 coupons. If it’s 3 for $5…you want 3 coupons. Get the picture? You can try to get it delivered for cheap, get it from neighbors (with their permission of course), look at Starbucks or other hangouts for discarded papers, etc.
2. You do NOT need to “clip” the coupons. At first I was overwhelmed trying to clip the coupons, organize them, and then find them when I needed them. Reality is, some people clip, some people don’t. My favorite system is to keep an accordion file and simply put each week’s fliers in one section. That way I can go to the date of the coupon release. Every couple of weeks I discard all the expired ones.
3. You need to be bold. Now and again, you’re going to run into a grumpy cashier. Other times, there will be a line behind you. Do not fret! Grumpy cashiers aren’t so bad. Just keep smiling and thank them for their help. Long lines…well…if you’re doing multiple transactions, you could let other people go ahead of you in between transactions. As you get better with the coupon routine, you will also get more efficient. I wouldn’t worry about it too much. The people behind you will be jealous when you pay a few dollars for a cart full of stuff!
Here are some websites I use to find deals, learn the tricks of the trade, and be encouraged to keep moving forward.
This was one of the first sites I came across when I was learning about coupons. She’s got great advice for finding motivation, finding deals, and lists lots of free stuff to sign up for. I like her coupon check-lists for specific stores.
She lists coupon match-ups by store, free stuff, and great information for menu planning.
Need I say more? Every week you can find coupon matches for the best deals at CVS.
I hope you can find your own motivation for saving little bits of money with coupons. Every penny counts. Questions for the comments sections…Do you use coupons? What’s your motivation?