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I have been couponing for about eight years now and the single most asked question I receive once people learn that I coupon is “can you teach me how to use coupons?” Anyone and everyone can use coupons, it just takes time, organization, and a small learning curve to learn the tricks. Here are my five most important tips to starting out as a coupon expert!
1. Stockpile Solutions
You will need a place to store all your coupon treasures after you had gone shopping. It’s important to plan out those areas ahead of time. Some items can be stored in the garage or attic, some items need to be stored inside in a climate controlled area. You will also need to make sure wherever you decided to store your treasures you have a way to rotate them. Almost all products have an expiration date. You need to have a way to rotate the older ones forward and the newer ones to the back. There are some really cool products out there that rotate can storage and stuff for you. (product link below)
2. Coupon storage
There are a couple ways to store coupons. One is to cut out all the coupons and place them in a binder using baseball card holders (product link below) to hold the coupons. I use a 5 inch binder. (product link below) It is more time consuming up front because you have to cut all the coupons ahead of time and store them. It is a lot easier to shop with them this ways since they are already separated into categories. When you are shopping the ads, you can flip to the categories and find the coupons that match up. You can also take your binder with you while you shop. Having all your coupons with you in case there is a sale that wasn’t featured or something on clearance you have a coupon for is a win win.
The other way to store your coupons is to store them as the whole insert by date in a file box. (product link below) Most coupons will expire at the same time in the insert (but not always). If your using a coupon site to help you catch all the deals ( I suggest The Krazy Coupon Lady) They will often refer to the insert date to help you find the coupon. This method is not a lot of work up front but does take more time when your shopping ads or aps.
I have tried both methods and found that the first one works best for me. I tend to have more time on Sunday to sort and cut out coupons than I do during the week when I am trying to go shopping.
3. Download your store cards and coupon apps to your phone
Most stores have a loyalty card and a way to download coupons to your card. If you live in a small place, like I do, you will have access to some coupons that were not in the newspaper. Also, they will have coupons specific to that store that you can download. If your store allows it, you will want to match your manufactures coupon (The ones in the newspaper or online) with the store coupon. That is where you be able to save the Most.
There are also a few apps that allow you to save on products that you buy. These can also be paired with coupons for greater savings. My favorite app is IBOTTA. This app give you money back for shopping. The money can be transferred to PayPal or given as a gift card. Sometimes people feel like these apps never amount to anything. I can honestly say from personal experience that this one does. I was able to purchase a kindle paperwhite after a few months of shopping with this app. It is possible and totally worth it. You can sign up with friends and part of their savings will go toward your ability to earn extra money in the month. If you want to join my coupon tribe sign up for IBOTTA and use my referral code: vajyklt. You receive $10 just for signing up and using it once, and I will receive $5 when you sign in with my code
I also use two others as well but have found they haven’t given me as much money. Moby and Checkout 51. Moby has very low rewards and limited items. The money is transferred right away however, to your PayPal account. Checkout 51 payout is in the form of a check, but they will not send money out till you have reached twenty dollars.
4. Getting Coupons
This is of course the most important step! Where will you get your coupons? First place: The newspaper. Sunday papers have the coupon inserts along with some of the ads like Target, Walmart ect. The rule of thumb I have always followed was one paper for each member of my family. There are four of us so I buy four papers on Sunday. I think that if I had a bigger family I would still follow the four paper rule. Most coupons say you can’t use more than four like coupons at one time. I almost always shop alone so, four is all I can purchase in one shopping trip. There have only been a few times I had wished I had more coupons. Most of the time it is plenty.
I mentioned before that I live in a small town and do not get all the coupon inserts that other parts of the US get. Although, it was frustrating sometimes to see people getting awesome deals that I couldn’t take part in, I never let that discourage me. There are ways to buy inserts but I have never done this. This would be another way to get inserts instead of buying the paper. Keep in mind you might need to wait for those to come in the mail, so make sure to order those early.
Coupons.com also has hundreds of coupons that can be printed and used. You can only print two of those coupons to use at one time. Sometimes stores will not take your printed coupons. Many people have copied these coupons on copy machines (Which is against the law) and has caused stricter laws on these printable coupons.
5. Where and when to Shop
Now your ready to shop! Most major stores will accept coupons. Even Dollar Tree excepts coupons! Make sure that when your shopping your coupon matches the ounces or type exactly or it may not be accepted. Also, shopping Sunday or Monday is best especially if it’s a big sale. If you wait you run the risk of the items being sold out. I have found that shopping first thing in the morning or later in the evening is the best time to shop. There are fewer people and it causes less stress on you, especially if you are first starting out. Sometimes people will become impatient if they have to wait on you, especially if it is a busy shopping time. and you will feel nervous to make them wait. Take your time. You want to make sure you leave with the most money saved.
There you have it! You are on your way to becoming a coupon expert. If your interested in learning how to coupon, be on the lookout for my 30 day coupon challenge!
Check out The Krazy Coupon Lady website for the inserts I pictured in my binder and for a whole section on starting out with coupons. Use their app, The Krazy Coupon Lady, to never miss an add or sale!