As I mentioned last week , over the summer I decided to give couponing a real go. I am pleased to say that I have had so much fun saving money and stocking up on things that my family and I use the most. I am in no way an extreme couponing queen. I am probably what some might consider a lazy couponer. If you want to save money but don’t have 40 hours a week to burn, then I’ve got some tips that can still help you save money with coupons.
However, that post will have to wait for another day…
Today, I am going to share some couponing dos and don’ts. These are things I have learned from my own experience and from all the wonderful couponing blogs I follow. I had no idea some of the lengths people will go to to get coupons — some of it may surprise you as well. Couponing the right way means being ethical, being courteous to the store, the store employees and other shoppers who may be trying to save money for their family as well.
Couponing is actually pretty fun. I seriously NEVER thought I would ever hear myself say that; not even as I began my couponing journey/experiment. Saving money isn’t just about the coupons themselves — it’s also a combination watching sales cycles and stockpiling (not hoarding). If you have been wanting to try it out I highly recommend giving it a go but I’ll warn you , it can be a little addicting.
Do Get Organized but Don’t go Overboard!
Don’t go crazy! This is something I always have to tell myself when starting a new project. I once tried – unsuccessfully I might add – to crochet. Well, I actually tried it twice the second time was when I was on pregnancy bedrest — but the first time I tried it, I rushed out to the craft store bought a ton of yarn, about 10 different crochet needles in various sizes, and a couple of books on how to crochet. I didn’t crochet a thing! So, as you can see I tend to go a little overboard when starting out. This is why – when I decided to start couponing – my first instinct was to go out about buy 20 newspapers the first week, a binder, a bunch of baseball card holders to put the coupons in, a DVD on how to coupon, etc.
Being organized is key — for sure. However, when you first start out you won’t have enough coupons to fill a binder but a small coupon organizer is a great investment. I actually used envelopes in the very beginning. Now, I do have a binder but I still use my small organizer to hold the coupons I know I will need for certain trips to the store. I worked up to it slowly. So far — so good.
Do stockpile but Don’t hoard
We don’t have a very big house so I know my limits on what we have room for and what we don’t. I also know that certain items go on sale at different times of the year. It’s ideal; to buy when the prices are at their lowest, utilize coupons as much as possible and have enough stock on hand to last until the next time those items go on sale. If you pay attention to grocery sale cycles it can help you calculate how much of a certain item your family will need until the next sale cycle.
Let me just say, there are very few people who need to purchase 70 bottles of mustard. If you own a hot dog stand or a ballpark — sure, you might use that much or more. Buy what you know you’ll need. However, buying something just to buy it – AND clearing the shelves to do it – is excessive and rude. If you do own a hot dog stand and you want to purchase 100 bottles of mustard at the super low price – that’s awesome – just be sure you call the store ahead of time and pre-order the amount of items you want to buy. This helps the store and the other customers who would also like to get a good deal on that item.
Do buy what you’ll need but Don’t forget to check expiration dates!
When you are making purchases be mindful of expiration dates and only buy what your family will use. There are many items that never expire, so buy what you have room for — if your house is busting at the seams but you find a rockin’ deal on toilet paper that you can’t pass up get it and give it away. Getting great deals also allows us to give more to others. Couponing will benefit your family and allow you to bless others as well.
Do ask friends and family for their unused inserts but DON’T steal inserts.
Do I really have to say this? Sadly, yes. There have been reports of people heading to their local store to purchase newspapers, only to get them home and realize the inserts have been removed. There are so many ways to get coupons and inserts. You should never have to stoop to this level and there is no deal in the world worth stealing for. Instead, ask friends and family for their inserts. You can even post on twitter and Facebook that you would love to have any leftover coupons people aren’t going to use and I’m sure you will be flooded with them.
The rule of thumb is one newspaper for each person in your household. If you have four people in your family, then four papers should be good. There are certain times when you may need or want more coupons but I bet if you ask around you can get more. Some people purchase coupons off of eBay. I haven’t done this and I’m not sure that I will ever get to that point but it apparently works well for some people.
Do have fun!
It is such a rush to get good deals. I love it! I don’t get tons of stuff for free but if I can even shave 20% off of my grocery bill, I am a happy camper! 🙂
So do any of you coupon? What advice might you have for folks just starting out? What are some of the best deals you have ever done?