Coupon Question Answer

After my last post, one friend of mine commented with a question that I answered at length.  Then another girlfriend called for help and I gave her some of the same tips.  Since both of those things happened in 24 hours, I realized maybe I should just post the answer as a separate article for those of you who are trying to become couponers.

Darby wrote: Okay KT, after watching your blog and moneysavingmom blog, I have organized a coupon box and started in. Please tell me there is a learning curve to this whole thing. I went to CVS to roll last weeks dollars with the great money maker only to find they were out of the products I wanted. So, drove to another CVS because, gosh darn, I WILL DO THIS! So, spent $7 got $14 to roll and got a mail in rebate for the $7 spent. So should be good minus the gas and trouble of taking 3 kids shopping. Things went better at Rite Aid and I paid $12 but saved $5 off purchase with coupons. So, tell me I can do this and the obsession phase will slow down.

Yes Darby, there is a learning curve. Here’s a few tips . . .

1. Don’t take your kids couponing. I know that making this happen can be near next to impossible, but you will save your sanity which is more valuable than money. I often end up doing CVS and grocery trips late at night when they are in bed and J is home. Its a pain, but it is kind of my own thing and fun. It is NOT fun with kids.

2. For CVS, I follow southernsavers.com and I go on Saturday nights when both sale weeks are still in effect. (Sunday sales usually start at 6 pm on Sat night and the current sale week is still in effect.) This is the best way to ensure that the good deals are still there. If there are other couponers in your area, midweek will be too late. Sales weeks do not start early at 24 hour CVS.

3. Time is money. Decide which you have more of, and be okay with that. I know that there are good deals to be had at every store, but I just have to let some go. I pretty much only shop CVS and occasionally Walgreens for freebies. You will burn out pretty quickly if you try to grab every deal.

4. The same deals on the same products tend to come around again (ie: I have about 10 razors under my bathroom sink), so you can eventually just say, “It doesn’t matter if it’s free, I don’t need anymore razors.”

5. Compare what you are spending now with what you were spending before NOT with what other couponers are spending. Couponing really is a job, so as such, people with more experience are likely to be better at it than you. If you focus on comparing yourself to others, you’ll just feel frustrated.

6. Have a “back up” plan or make the plan there. I often have a rough plan with a few alternative scenarios in case things don’t go as expected. Often I just go in with my Southern Savers list, get the products, head back to the pharmacy waiting area with my cart, paper, coupon book, and calculator to figure out my transactions once I know what I can actually buy. This is another reason NOT to take kids (and go on Sat eve.).

7. As for the obsessive phase, I would say it sort of passes. But you kind of have to make it work for you . . . hence the blog for me.

Also for those of you who want to learn couponing, there is a course called the “Savvy Shopper” program on mycouponteacher.com that is free and very helpful (and not really a course at all).  She focuses on one aspect of savvy shopping per week for 12 weeks and recommends only trying to tackle one aspect per week.  Presumably, at the end of 12 weeks, you’ll be a savvy shopper.   I think her setup is great, so I’m not going to reinvent the wheel; just go to her site. :)

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4 Responses to Coupon Question Answer

  1. Laura August 11, 2010 at 8:50 pm #

    If you have to take your kids with you….which I do 95% of the time, here are my tips:

    1 – make your shopping list very thorough – write down exactly the product that you need to get based on what the coupon says, and write down what the coupon value on your shopping list – this will save you having to rifle through your envelope of coupons to double check. If you end up NOT getting one of the items that you had set aside a coupon in your shopping envelope for… just wait until you hand the coupons to the cashier and then go through them quickly to pull out any ones that you didn’t need to use

    2 – make your shopping list in order of how you go through the store, so that you can cross off items in order

    3 – if they don’t have the product you need or the coupon isn’t going to work for the products available, skip the item unless it was a NECESSITY on your list. If an item is NECESSITY, don’t worry if you don’t have a coupon or a sale. A NECESSITY is an item you CANNOT do without. (a savvy shopper knows that the necessities are few and far between when you really get down to it… I remember once our groceries were really low and I decided that milk was the only thing we really needed, then it occurred to me that we could actually all drink water for a day or two…. a NECESSITY is something like diapers, toilet paper, and of course, ice cream)

    3 – be willing to bribe for good behavior and talk in a very excited voice during the entire trip as if finding milk and eggs is the most thrilling adventure of all

    4 – take snacks!! Who cares if there are people who don’t think you should let your kids have food in the grocery store? Those people aren’t buying my groceries.

  2. Laura August 11, 2010 at 8:51 pm #

    Hahaha, I had two #3. That shows you that I JUST RETURNED from my Super Doubles trip and my brain is totally fried. But I did get $149 worth of food for $64. Even with all three kids. But I have no camera to gloat about how the sto can’t handle me (plus I don’t listen to explicit lyrics) 😉

    • Katrina Ryder August 11, 2010 at 9:15 pm #

      I just checked the lyrics and there is no cussing, just FYI.

  3. Shelly @ Coupon Teacher August 19, 2010 at 4:02 pm #

    Thanks for recommending my Savvy Shopper course! I am glad you have been enjoying it!