Swapping coupons is a great way to see major savings on regular household expenditures without spending tons of time clipping coupons, searching circulars, and surfing the net for discounts, deals, and double-dipper opportunities. But organizing and planning a coupon swap party is no easy undertaking; you’re going to have to put some thought into the process if you want your event to be successful. Here are some tips to help you get your coupon swap underway.

Organize Your Own Coupons

If all of your coupons are in a single folder, you’re not ready for a coupon swap. You need to get your own house in order before you invite people in, so to speak. Coupons should be broken out by category, at the very least, so start by making piles for grocery, retail, dining, entertainment, and so on. Then you can further separate these piles by store if you so choose (and if you have enough coupons to make it worthwhile).

Finally, you’ll want to break them out by expiration dates. In order to save space and make everything more expedient, consider a system that includes an expandable file folder for categories, manila folders for stores, and standard envelopes by month. This nesting system will allow for quick and easy filing, not to mention finding coupons. And if your system overflows, upgrade to a filing cabinet.

Zero In on Interested Parties

Everyone loves to save money, but most aren’t interested in devoting undue time to clipping, filing, and managing coupons. Sure, they’ll use one if it comes in the mail and it happens to apply to a product they already purchase at full price. But most people don’t go to the same lengths as extreme couponers, spending 6-8 hours a day on the task. Luckily, a coupon swap can net you similar savings with a lot less work.

First you need to find interested participants, though. And you can do this simply enough by calling family and friends, asking around the office, posting flyers at your kids’ schools, and talking to acquaintances like neighbors, doctors, stylists, and other people you interact with on a more or less regular basis. This will help you to gauge the level of interest and get a rough number of the people who want to participate.

Set a Date and Location

Once you’ve got a list of the people in your life that are interested in swapping coupons, it’s time to determine when and where your coupon swap will take place. If your group is small, you could meet at a private home. If, on the other hand, your group is quite large, say more than half a dozen couponers, a private residence may not suffice.

In this case consider finding a public space with enough room to accommodate your group. You might meet at a coffee shop during a time when business is typically slow. Or you could head to your local library and take over a large table (so long as you don’t make too much noise). You could even consider a public park, although you should make sure it has some kind of covered pavilion or enclosure so that wind, rain, and sun don’t undermine your efforts. Then all you have to do is pick a date that works for everyone, or at least for the majority.

Hand Out Assignments

The most difficult part of the organizational process could be figuring out what every participant in your coupon swap will contribute. Start by asking what kinds of savings everyone is interested in so that you can make sure each participant walks away with some useful coupons. Then ask each person to pick up the Sunday edition of the local newspaper (each week leading up to the party) as this is a great source of coupons that can be shared and swapped. From there you can dole out tasks like picking up weekly circulars for grocery and retail stores in the area. Many stores even offer subscriptions by mail or email, making this task much easier.

Other participants can tackle online searches, frequenting coupon sites, manufacturer sites, and more. Or you can have some people seek out online clubs that offer freebies, discounts, and coupons by mail or email for those who sign up. And someone should definitely troll appropriate channels in search of double-dipper deals. There are actually websites that cross-check in-store deals, store coupons, manufacturer coupons, and so on to let consumers know about multi-coupon purchases they can take advantage of.

Keep it Simple

Most people lead busy lives and they simply may not be able to complete the tasks assigned to them. So don’t be a dictator! A successful coupon swap is designed to make life easier for everyone involved, and if you make the process too difficult, participants are bound to drop out. You’ll find that a party of one is no fun.

Instead, make your coupon swap flexible. Just ask people to let you know in advance if they can’t make it or they’re unable to complete an assignment so that you can arrange to pick up any coupons they’ve collected or pass their assignment along to other participants. When you make your coupon swap party easy-breezy instead of a major commitment, it’s a lot more likely to succeed.

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