There are times when I walk up to the cash register with sweat threatening to drip down my face because I'm not sure if I'll get Cruella DeVille, or Marge Simpson behind the counter. And even if they accept my coupons, what if I forget one? It's probably similar to how the US Soccer team felt when the referee disallowed their goal against Slovenia. They felt cheated. Coupons and World Cup soccer are in the same realm of importance right?
When it comes to couponing (yes, it's a word) I think getting started can be the hardest. It can feel overwhelming, especially if you start too big and end up running all over town to get every last deal. Don't do that. It's easy to feel like you have to, but remember this: the point of couponing is to SAVE MONEY. You are not saving money when you drive all over town to get each deal. Trust me.
Here are my recommendations, along with a few links on how to get started at the saving money game. Don't give up too early, and don't start out too big. I promise that in the long run, taking the time to learn how to coupon right is worth it.
Where Do I Get Coupons?
1. The Sunday Paper-My preference is to pay $1.25 a week for 4 days of front door newspaper delivery. I don't have to drive anywhere to pick it up so I'm saving on gas.
Most Sundays, you will have coupons from 3 different inserts: Proctor and Gamble, Smart Source, and Red Plum.
2. Friends, Family, and the local Starbucks-If you are really cheap, you don't have to pay for the paper. Instead, you can ask your Yuppie friends and family if they can give you their inserts from the Sunday paper. This also works if you need more than 1 coupon, and you only have access to one Sunday paper.
I'm serious about Starbucks. Remember back to your single days of freedom when you had the money to pay for a Grande Mocha Latte. (Is that a thing? I don't do coffee . . .) How many times did you need to move someone's left over paper out of the way so you could sit down and read your O magazine? Stop by a Starbucks (or any coffee place) on a Monday morning and you're sure to find a few papers.
3. Dollar Tree-Some Dollar Tree's will carry the Sunday paper for: you guessed it- $1! This is hit and miss depending on your region so don't take my word for it.
4. Gas stations, supermarkets, Wal-Mart, Target-If you are brand new and just want to get started already, buy 1 paper at full price if you have to. This will help you have the right mentality about couponing: you can't always get ALL the good deals. Sometimes, you just have to bite the bullet.
How Do I Organize the Coupons?
This is something that I can't decide for you. Here are a few suggestions:
- The Binder- cut out ALL coupons and keep them in a binder. Lots of women buy plastic baseball card sheets to place their coupons in,
- The Expandable-This is my current preferred method. I bought a small expandable holder at Wal-Mart and labeled each tab with the following:
- Canned Items
- Dairy/Refrigerated (Includes meat)
- Paper/Cleaning products
- Baby Items
- The Box-This one is similar to the Expandable idea. I see women use these on blogs who have much more experience than me. So maybe as you save more and more coupons you have to keep them in a box. Who knows. Basically, with a box, you create dividers (use similar categories as above) and order the coupons front to back in each category. The ones that expire soon go in the front, the ones that don't, go in the back.
- The Folder-This suggestion just came to me recently and I have to admit-it sounds smart! One woman doesn't clip ANY coupons, until the week she needs them. She keeps all inserts for a few months, and writes the date on each one. Then, when she reads a blog that says, "Use the 2/$1 from the 6/13 Smart Source, all she has to do is find that insert, cut out the coupon she needs and go get the deal. I might attempt this one someday.