Reader Jennifer e-mailed with this great question:
“Thanks for taking the time to put together this web-site. My problem is I don’t know where to start. I see all these great deal but yet I still find myself at the grocery store with NO COUPONS. I just need a jump start on how to get organized. Do you have any advice for me?”
I do have some tips for you, Jennifer (and for the rest of my readers who feel the same way)! I was there not very long ago.
There are a few things that feel overwhelming when you first begin couponing:
- You haven’t had a chance to collect coupons yet. You may feel like you really can’t be a couponer until your coupon collection is completely organized and rivals the Library of Congress. Not true. Many of the deals that I post use printable coupons. You’ll also discover that your collection grows quickly if you begin buying your Sunday paper each week. (For tips on how to organize your coupons and other helpful hints, check out my Coupons 101 section.)
- You feel like you need to tackle every deal. Please don’t. I post a lot of deals but each week I only try to visit one or two stores. I recommend choosing one store to figure out first. (If I don’t post the deals at that store, I can probably lead you to someone who does.) Then choose a few of the deals that they post, clip or print the coupons, head to the store with a list and give it a try. (Once you score your first FREE after coupon item, I promise you’ll be hooked!)
- You are unsure when a good time is to use your coupon. Want to know when is a bad time to use your coupon? Right away. You may feel like it will get swallowed up in your coupon binder never to be seen again. Have no fear. If you clip that coupon out and tuck it away in its rightful place, the time will come for it to re-appear in all its glory, I promise. Reckless coupon usage can actually lead to spending more money out of pocket if you buy items that you usually wouldn’t buy. The best plan is to wait until that item is on sale and then plop that little honey of a coupon down. (This is why following money-saving blogs is a great idea…we’ll do our best to remind you when you should dig out that coupon and USE it!)
- You are afraid that the big mean lady behind the cash register will send you to coupon time-out if you do something wrong. Now, I can’t promise anything, but I have yet to be sent to coupon time-out. Have I been told I can’t use a certain coupon? Yes. In most cases, I have just taken the coupon back and that was that. From time to time, if I know that I should be able to use a certain coupon, I ask to speak to a store manager. But the reality is that probably 95% of my coupon experiences have been good (and I’ve used a lot of coupons!). Don’t fear coupon time out. Simply put those coupons down and see how it goes! That’s the best way to learn.
Here are my top three tips to get you started:
- Buy a coupon binder. You can use one like the one I started with here, or whatever suits your fancy. Just make sure you have one!
- Begin collecting coupons. Buy the Sunday paper (I buy two!). Print coupons that you think you will use. Sign up for coupons to be sent in the mail. Before you know it, you’ll have a great collection!
- Choose one store and begin to follow the deals that I post. Then give it a try. You’ll realize that the world is more coupon friendly than you ever thought!
Do you have any other helpful tips for Jennifer? Leave a comment!