I Saw that Coupon Show!…How do I do that?

I want to thank Toya M. Chisholm for taking the time to write this article for my blog.  My wife, Wendy, does the grocery shopping and sometimes couponing so I have almost NO experience with this subject and really felt it would help my readers to know another way to save even more money with coupons.  Thank you Toya, you’ve given me great insight on a topic I had no clue!

howdoyoucoupon

Written by: Toya M. Chisholm

We’ve all seen or heard of the reality television show about extreme couponing. Women and men scouring the aisles of their favorite grocery stores, purchasing mountains of products for amounts so low, that even Scrooge would be jealous. The questions begging to be answered are usually “Who needs 168 candy bars?”, followed closely by “How do I do that???”

Using coupons to lower your grocery bill is not a new thing. People have been using coupons for over 125 years; the very first coupon ever created is noted to have been issued in 1888 by the Coca-Cola Company, for a free glass of Coke. In recent years, the art of using coupons has been gaining momentum. A recent recession has pushed consumers to be savvier with their dollars and using coupons has become more common place than ever.

There really is a coupon available for nearly everything. Sites such as RetailMeNot.com provide coupon codes for online retailers, while Restaurant.com provides discount gift certificates to local restaurants for as much as 90% off during their more popular sales. The most popular coupon use, though, continues to be for food and household products from the local Supermarkets, pharmacies and discount retailers.

With the growing use of coupons, that looming question also grows: “How do I that?…How do I get $1,000 in groceries for $.83, like they do on that show?” The answer is simple…You don’t! Not unless you want 168 candy bars. Some of the couponing depictions in the media have been proven, to be very misleading. While you may not be able to get $1000 worth of products you actually have a need for, for less than a dollar, you can use coupons to cut your grocery bill down by at least 30% or more.misleadingmedia

To start, well…you need some coupons! The most common place to get coupons is in the advertisement packet in your local Sunday paper. Coupons can also be printed from online sites such as coupons.com, RedPlum.com and Smartsource.com. Another way to get coupons is to contact the individual manufacturer of the products you use the most. While many don’t mail coupons, there are a great deal more who will be happy to send you a few. It never hurts to ask.

Now that you have your coupons, you need to organize them. There is a binder method, a shoe box method, a mini organizer, a cut-as-you-go method and more. Your best bet is to use Google and learn the details of each, then figure out which one is best for you. It may take a while and some trial and error but eventually, you will learn which option serves you best in your shopping trips.

You have your coupons and you’ve organized them in a pretty binder…so now what? Now, comes the most important part. You wait. You wait for the right deal at the right store to get you maximum savings. If you are attempting to build a stockpile, this is what it takes. It doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time and patience, buying and storing one type of item at a time, as it becomes available. While you can use your coupons on regular priced items (saving is saving, right?), it’s best to use them in connection with a sale price. More than likely, an item will not be on sale the exact same week you obtain the coupon. Sometimes it will but don’t count on it. Luckily, most coupons have an expiration date of anywhere from two weeks to a month or more out, so it gives you time to find a good deal.

Especially when you’re just learning, it’s best to not try to stalk the sales of every single store in your area; you will burn out and want to give up. Choosing one supermarket and one pharmacy or discount retailer is a good start. When you choose the two, become familiar with their couponing policy. Depending on the store and your area, there may be limitations to how many coupons can be used and on how many products, which days are doubling days, etc. Most stores have their policies available on their website. Knowing the policy will help in your preparation for shopping trips and make sure your transactions run smoothly. Next, review their ad, what sale items you need, and compare it to what coupons you have available. Every item won’t have a coupon available to it; it never does. Again, though, saving is saving. If you have a coupon for just two of the items, that’s more savings than you had before you started using your coupons and it will all add up over time. Before you know it, those first two coupons used will turn into coupons on almost every item in your cart and you will be saving big.

Being able to use coupons sounds simple…and really, it is. But even with its simplicity, there are still a lot of questions and even myths regarding coupon use. Here is some clarification on five of the most common ones.

1. Couponing takes a lot of time for a little bit of savings; it’s just not worth it.
In the beginning, it can seem this way because your available coupons are not a great many. Over time, though, as you continue to collect your coupons, you will find you have a lot more to match to the items you purchased and your savings will increase. Remember that time is money. Spending an hour or two per week with your coupons, could save you hundreds of dollars on a grocery trip. Most of us aren’t making a hundred dollars per hour.

2. Coupons are never available for the things I use; they are only for junk food.
Nearly everyone uses toilet tissue, paper towels, soap, and body lotion. While coupons for fresh meat and produce are in short supply, coupons are not limited to food and are readily available for household and health and beauty items. Even saving on one type of product will lower your overall grocery bill.

3. How do I get multiple coupons to build a stockpile?
Buying multiple subscriptions of your Sunday paper is a good start. When your local newspaper company has a delivery sale, contact them for multiple copies on that sale price. There are also many coupon clipping services where additional copies of coupons can be purchased. Use the internet to find one that is right for you.

4. I want to use coupons, but I just don’t have the time to find the deals.
This is where the internet is your friend. There are uncountable blogs available, where the work is being done for you. Using the internet for search terms such as “Target coupon deals” or “CVS coupon match-ups”, will reveal more information than you can handle. Pick and choose which one you find most helpful and subscribe to have the deals emailed to you. Facebook and Instagram also have groups dedicated to couponing by area or specific store. Join one or more and check in from time to time, to see what deals others have listed for that week.

5. Couponers are Hoarders and I don’t want to be that.
While some hoarders use coupons, not everyone who uses coupons is a hoarder. Hoarding is a psychological condition of its own and isn’t created by the use of coupons. While the media depicts many couponers as having a stockpile of goods well beyond their basic needs, this isn’t true of most people who use coupons. Buy what you need…be it for the week or a stockpile of three months. Being a hoarder is not a prerequisite of using coupons.

For most people using coupons, it becomes a fun hobby that has the added benefit of saving money. The thrill of the chase for new deals is an adrenaline boost as well as an opportunity for bragging rights as photos of receipts and comparisons of who got what circulate through social media. It can seem daunting at first but there are a ton of resources available to help new couponers find their rhythm. The use of internet search engines, blogs and social media will have the novice couponer turning pro in no time.

%d bloggers like this: