Couponing takes a lot of time, right?
This is a common worry of new couponers. The idea of finding, organizing, and using coupons can be very daunting. Today we want to demonstrate just how easy it can be to get started. With just a little bit of preparation (and the right guide) you can become an extreme couponer this week.
Step 1) The Basics
Getting started is extremely easy. The first step is to think about your couponing goals. What do you specifically want to accomplish? Don’t just say “I want to save money,” that’s too vague to be the basis of your couponing strategy.
Are you trying to save a certain amount of money per week? Do you want to stop spending so much money on a certain type of product? Remember that you only have so much time, and so much effort you can dedicate to your couponing efforts. For this reason, it’s a good idea to start small and work your way into the fun. For example, maybe you spend a significant amount of money on food every month. If cutting down your grocery bill is your main priority, then you should focus on coupons and deals related to food.
The second part of step one is to figure out your coupon sources. How and where are you going to source and collect your coupons? This is extremely important to consider because the optimal couponing strategy will depend on your specific goals. While you might be able to find generic retail item coupons in your local newspaper, you won’t stumble on any “goldmines” there.
To really take advantage of your extreme couponing efforts, you’re going to want to utilize the internet as much as possible. Newspapers (and other offline coupon sources) just can’t compete with the variety, quantity, and ease of use of coupons found online.
Step 2) Get Organized
Now it’s time to think about the “how.”
- How will you save the coupons?
- How are you going to organize your coupons?
- How are you going to schedule your couponing efforts?
This may seem like an unnecessary step right now, but you won’t notice the true importance of it until you have hundreds of saved coupons to sift and sort through. The answer doesn’t have to be complicated: Many extreme couponers will keep their clipped (and printed) coupons in a simple system of folders and file cabinets.
Typically the coupons will be organized in a way that is conducive to quick “grab and go” situations. For example, you are tight on time but want to grab a coupon before heading to the store. If your coupons are organized neatly, you can look for either the store or product type folder (depending on your organization system) and be out the door thirty seconds later.
Similarly, are you going to stick to a specific couponing schedule? Will you dedicate a certain amount of time per week to couponing… or would you like to take a more casual approach and only look for coupons in your spare time? There is no one right answer to these questions, think about them and decide for yourself what works best.
Step 3) Get Working
We’re about to get into the real fun: going to the store and doing the shopping! But first, we need to cover a few key pieces of the couponing game.
Make sure that you are proficient in the following areas:
- Know The Language – BOGO, MIR, OYNO. Do you know what these acronyms mean? (Without googling it!) You should, because knowing the intricate language of coupons will help you out in the long run. The more you understand about how coupons work, the more power you have to stack, clip, and collect your way to crazy coupon savings.
- Know Your Stores – It’s also very valuable to understand any company policies surrounding coupons at your most-visited stores. You’ll be surprised: If you do your research, you might end up knowing more than a store employee about their own policies. Don’t be afraid to ask for a manager if you believe one of your coupons has been incorrectly refused. It’s important to always be polite when dealing with employees, but don’t back down if you are in the right.
When it comes to couponing, knowledge is power. Knowing the coupon fine print, any store policies, and your rights as a shopper will help you keep couponing as a fun, rewarding, stress-free hobby.
Step 4) Reap The Rewards
Are you ready to unlock massive savings? If you’ve been following the past three steps carefully, you are prepared to hit the ground running with your couponing efforts. There’s one last topic to consider: the stores.
Beyond understanding store coupon policies, you should take a structured approach to your shopping. If you are after maximum savings, there are a few different strategies you can implement to make the most of your time. Consider what stores you need to visit in person to make purchases (all retail stores, grocery stores, etc.), and which purchases you can make online. Take into account the pros and cons of purchasing your products at various places.
Often shopping online will give you a greater variety of stores to choose from, and for that reason, the pricing is often more competitive than at a retail store. Another benefit to shopping online is convenience: you don’t even need to leave your home to rack up savings. If your spending habits are more suited to shopping in person, consider store hours, locations, special sales, and the like, to make the most of your couponing efforts.
Finally, make sure you never break these three couponing rules:
- Make purchases for utility not savings – Only buy items you need (or want), never make purchases purely because you are enticed by high savings. In the long run, this will save you from many impulse purchases.
- Buy in bulk when possible – Find a particularly good sale, stackable coupon, or limited-time offer? Jump on it and buy in bulk. If the math works out, you will be able to multiply your savings.
- Make smart purchases, don’t be fooled by the “fine print” – If you see a sale that is legitimately “too good to be true,” make sure to read the fine print and see if you are missing something.
That’s it! Now you are ready to enter the vast world of extreme couponing. After reading this guide, do you feel more prepared to make couponing fit into your busy schedule? What else would you like to learn about in future guides?