Case in point: I would see a coupon for Cheerios, but upon going to the store it was obvious that the store brand Yummy-Os (or whatever) were still cheaper, even with the coupon.
I was using them wrong.
Coupons on their own are not particularly useful, unless you're a
How to Get Started Couponing
First, you need to find yourself a couponing blog. Find one for your region of the country (because deals vary from region to region.) If you live in New England, I like Maven of Savin'. If you don't, you know how to Google.
Second, bookmark your blog-o-choice and check it regularly. There will be all kinds of deals: online deals and in-store deals, deals with coupons and deals without coupons.
|My son, helping organize my coupons.|
However you get your coupon inserts, organize them in a binder by the date they were delivered. You don't even have to leaf through them to know what's inside first; the couponing blog does that for you.
How Couponing Works
Like I said before, coupons by themselves aren't very useful. Coupons are great when they are stacked with an awesome sale and an in-store promotion. That's when you get stuff for free.
The beauty of the couponing blog is that it finds these 'stacked' deals for you, and tells you exactly when and where and how to take advantage of them.
For example, Maven of Savin' recently told me how I could get 4 tubes of Colgate at CVS for free:
- They were already on sale at the store
- I used 2 coupons from my Sunday circular binder (it told me the date of the ones I needed)
- CVS has a loyalty program where you get coupons to use at their store on future purchases when you buy certain products, including Colgate that week
- I paid with a $100 CVS gift card I'd gotten for $86 on eBay, which I'd learned about earlier from Maven of Savin'.
What If I Still Think Coupons are Dumb?
Even if you have no interest in ever clipping a coupon, I still think any frugal person should be following a couponing blog.
Many of the deals are online deals that don't even need a coupon. My couponing blog alerts me all the time to good deals at Amazon (yesterday I bought a big case of Pampers for half the price of store brand diapers) and Staples (our source of almost-free printer paper and inexplicably, toilet paper.) At Christmas I took advantage of several great deals, including a Groupon for 50 photo cards for $10.
A Word About Extreme Couponing
If you've ever seen that show on TLC, forget about it: you will not be that person. Yes, that person is getting 247 bottles of mouthwash for "free" in a single shopping trip, but it wasn't really free because:
- They had to buy bulk lots of 50 coupon inserts on eBay in order to pull off those deals.
- They still paid sales tax on each of those bottles of mouthwash
- How many bottles of mouthwash can one reasonably use in a lifetime, anyway?
To be clear, I'm not an extreme couponer. I am a person who uses coupons and occasionally uses the word 'coupon' as a verb. I have a modest stockpile of stuff we regularly use in our house, and I pay less for it because I follow a couponing blog.