If you’re currently not couponing because you don’t think they will really save you much money, your assumptions about coupons are wrong. You need to throw those old assumptions out to realise the hidden opportunities that exist. I know this will be difficult for you because it was extremely difficult for me. If you have any common sense at all, you should think that couponing is a complete waste of time. I did. The reason for this is simple. If you use common sense when you use coupons, you end up doing it all wrong. Seriously. Don’t believe me? If you have “common sense” you have likely assumed some of the following:
1. Most coupons are for junk food.
2. Most coupons are for things that you don’t buy.
3. Most coupons are for brand name products and even with a coupon, these are more expensive than store brands.
4. Coupons take too much time to clip, sort and organize to be worthwhile for the little bit of savings that you get.
I’m sure there are many others, but these are a few of the misconceptions I had before I started from previous coupon trials and failures over the years. If you believe any of the above, you probably do so from your own previous experiences with coupons. This is how coupons and couponing appear to work to most people at first glance.
What we are going to do is to completely turn this “common sense” way of looking at coupons up on end and use coupons the way that they benefit us the most, not how the stores and manufacturers expect us to use them. I will get into this is more detail in later steps, but it’s important to understand that leaving your preconceived notions of how coupons work will make it a lot easier to embrace how to make coupons work best for you.
Also resist the temptation to assume that “couponing is easy.” The truth is that couponing becomes easy, but when you first begin, there is a large learning curve that needs to be overcome. The good news is that the more you practice, the easier it becomes and it shouldn’t be long before you can say that couponing is easy for you.
The first step is getting a base of coupons to use. Those coupon inserts that come in the Sunday newspaper are far more valuable to you than you can imagine when it comes to cutting your grocery shopping bill. I know what you’re still thinking. “I don’t even use any of the brands that come in those Sunday coupon inserts.” Even if you know that don’t use any of the items that the coupons are for, they are still very valuable to you (remember, refrain from falling into your old assumptions about couponing – it will become clear later).
Basically you want to get as many Sunday coupon inserts as you can. There are 2 main companies that put inserts into the Sunday paper — SmartSource (abbreviated as SS by most couponers) and RedPlum (abbreviated as RP by most couponers). You really need a bare minimum of 2 of each, but you should shoot for a minimum of 5 of each (I know, that sound ridiculous, but believe me, you are going to be wanting even more in no time). The easiest way is to just have 5 Sunday papers delivered to your house, but there are a lot of other ways to get hold of these inserts if you don’t want to spend that much money. I only have a single Sunday paper delivered to my house, but usually collect 20+ inserts each week without spending any extra time doing it. This is how I do it.
Now when you get these inserts, you are going to be tempted to look through them to see if there are any coupons for products that you use and cut those out. DON’T. Seriously. Fight the temptation. The goal is to make couponing as easy and painless as possible and I believe for most people, the most painful part of couponing is the cutting, sorting and organizing (it certainly is for me). The only thing you will do by looking at the inserts is waste time trying to figure out a convenient way to cut, sort and organize the coupons that you think you will use. There is no convenient way. At this point and time, you don’t care what coupons are in the Sunday paper inserts. You just want them.
You want to leave the coupon inserts completely intact. Again, don’t even bother looking through them. All you want to do is take out a thick pen and place the Sunday date the coupon insert arrived on the front cover (if you are not sure, the date will be on the outside fold of the insert, but in small print so it is difficult to see) so that it is easy to read when you need to find it again. Then find a place to file it (I simply place mine on a bookshelf where I can easily find them when I need them in the future). This will be the extent of your Sunday newspaper coupon organization.
Begin collecting these inserts from this this coming Sunday (it is even worthwhile to go through your trash if you know you threw last week’s inserts out but still have them) and think about ways you may be able to get more of them.
Just an advance warning. For the next 4 months, you are going to miss out on some deals because you don’t have the Sunday coupon insert filed away that you will need. This will be extremely frustrating. I know that there were more than a few occasions when I wanted to quit after I heard about a great deal and then couldn’t take advantage of it since I didn’t have the coupon insert that I needed because the coupon insert the coupon was in predated when I started saving them.
This is especially true at the very beginning when you only have a few weeks worth of inserts. I think a lot of people do quit because they begin to believe that they will never be able to take advantage of the deals out there. You will. You just need to be patient as you build up your Sunday coupon insert stash. Realise that if you miss a deal now because you don’t have the Sunday coupon insert, by collecting and filing them away now, you will be in a position in a few months to take advantage of a similar deal.