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Coupon Diva: Couponing 101

November 27th, 2013 5:00 am by Amanda Arnold-Drinnon

Coupon Diva: Couponing 101

Amanda Arnold-Drinnon

Are you considering couponing to help lower your monthly expenses?  Well, you should!  Couponing can and will help you save money.

Couponing can be a little overwhelming at first. Shows like TLC’s “Extreme Couponing” show amazing people who save 90 percent on their grocery bills and spend 20-40 hours a week organizing and working with their coupons.  Honestly, that’s just not realistic.  Working moms and dads do not have that kind of time!  A realistic expectation is to save at least 30 percent per trip and an hour or two (at the most) planning a big shopping trip.  Is it possible to have trips where you save 80-90 percent ?  Absolutely, but it’s not going to happen every time.

The purpose of this column is to break the process down.  Couponing doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Any savings are better than none. So, even if you only use some of the techniques found here, you will still save money.

Learning something new is hard, especially when it involves changing habits.  Give yourself a learning curve.  Many people try to start couponing by clipping a few coupons here and there for things on their weekly grocery list.  They quickly discover it doesn’t work.  This was me the first time I tried to learn the coupon process.  I quit after two weeks.  A couple of weeks later I stumbled onto the web sites:  www.couponingtodisney.com and www.thekrazycouponlady.com,  and discovered I was doing it completely wrong.  In order to really save with coupons, you have to change your thinking and shopping habits.  Most of us make a shopping list each week, and buy the items regardless of whether they are on sale.  When you coupon, you buy what is on sale, and you buy enough to last until the next sale cycle. So, you are always paying the lowest price.  Couponing is a cumulative process. You have to commit and you have to have a little patience until you get the hang of the sale cycles.

Lastly, to save money with coupons, you have to have….coupons.  So, where do we find all of those coupons?  There are two main sources for coupons: newspaper inserts and printable coupons.  There are a few secondary sources for coupons:  free coupon booklets, store flyers, peelies, and coupons that come inside products.  All coupons available on the computer are not available in the paper and vice versa.  You will need a source for the Sunday paper.  Yes, this is an “investment.”  If you spend, $1.50 on the paper and there are $200 in coupons in the paper, chances are that you will make the money back on the first two coupons that you use and anything after that is money that you save. Most couponers never get less than two papers per week, and sometimes I will purchase up to four papers if there are coupons that I really like.  The sites that I listed earlier actually publish the upcoming coupons so that you can decide ahead of time if it is a good week to buy extra papers.  Remember, not all papers carry all inserts.  It varies by region.  One last tip, you may want to set up a coupon swap group.

Next week we will explore printables (coupons you print from home) in more detail. I look forward to introducing more people to couponing and hearing how all of you are saving money as well.  Please send in all questions and or comments to aarnold@timesnews.net

Let’s learn from each other.

You may reach Amanda at: aarnold@timesnews.net 


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