How and Why I Started to Coupon
I thought I would give a little more history about when and why I started to learn the art of couponing. Yes, I really do think it’s an art. You have to craft transactions, rearranging and tweaking until they are perfect(or as close as you can get).
I used to watch those extreme couponing shows. I was in awe over their stockpiles and the amount of time they spent on clipping coupons or seeking deals. My husband and I would comment about how that could never be done here. There was just no way I could use coupons to get stuff free. I never thought in a million years, I could be one of those people.
I thought we lived pretty frugally too. Since we were a single income family, I tried to make those dollars stretch every chance I got.
Before couponing, I shopped at Walmart thinking it was my cheapest option. I would buy generic everything and still spend over $100 on just the essentials. Grocery shopping at an actual grocery store seemed out of the question for me. If I was spending that much at Walmart, what would the grocery store cost?
My husband works in the underground utility field. He usually works a ton of hours from spring until fall, then has off most of the winter. I would always save up as much of that overtime as possible to ensure we had enough money to pay the bills during the down time. I was always really good at that, until one year. The year the economy crashed.
Everyone felt it. People lost jobs, there was’t a lot of work out there. Luckily, my husband didn’t lose his job, but they barely had jobs to do. No one had underground utilities in the budget when they had other bills to pay.
As fall started creeping upon us, I started to freak out! I had nothing in savings and hardly any food in our house! There had been nothing to save. I watched another show on extreme couponing and thought, I really need to figure this out. I started by looking at coupons.com and found some cereal coupons I thought might work. I knew one of our local stores doubled coupons on Wednesdays. So I headed over.
There was a cereal deal for buy 4 select cereals for $10. I thought, I can do that! I then picked out a bunch of other groceries I needed. The sign for doubling coupons said I had to have a $25 transaction. I had no idea what that really meant. I thought I had to spend $25 in addition to the items I was about to coupon.
I saved $4 my very first time(I only had 2 coupons *gasp!*) and I was hooked! I started learning the $25 transaction INCLUDED whatever I was using coupons on. And I could do 7 transactions with my store cards. I also learned to save EVERY coupon, no matter how much I thought I would never buy that item. It turned out, for some of those coupons I didn’t save, they would later go on sale and I could have gotten them FREE!
My stockpile slowly started to build and in just a few months, I had enough money to get us through winter! I would spend my extra time, usually after everyone was in bed, honing my skills and researching. Most of the coupons I had, I printed. The other few, came from the coupon inserts my mother in law and my neighbor saved for me.
I signed up on manufacturer’s websites for coupon offers and they usually had links to “like” them on Facebook. Manufacturer’s like to offer up special coupons or giveaways on their Facebook pages. I found if I just searched them on Facebook, I would find anything under the sun EXCEPT the right one.
My advice, if you want to learn how to coupon, is learn your store policy first. Most stores have it on their website. Another bit of advice, if you see someone at the store with a big binder full of coupons, go ahead and ask them about couponing. They will most likely know the policies for that store and if they are anything like me, they LOVE talking coupons! If they happen to say no, thank them for their time. It was worth a try.
I have taught many others the art of couponing. Some have stuck with it, others have not. Most have been local to me, some have been in other states. Where ever you are, you CAN save with coupons! I did it in Florida where they cannot double. I just paired coupons with the awesome buy one get one free sales and saved huge!
Now that I have honed my skills, I hardly spend any time getting a transaction together or searching for coupons. It’s really not as intense as the show makes it seem. Those hauls are special and are not usually attained on a weekly basis. They have special circumstances to help them out.
Just think how much planning and coordination there would be to have a camera crew show up at the exact right time for that super duper sale. After years of seeing the sales cycles here, I have only been able to do major hauls, like on tv, a handful of times.
We no longer have credit card debt and are working quickly to pay off our mortgage. Can you imagine being mortgage free in just a few years?? I know, me neither, but honestly I never thought we could be free of credit card debt. I did that, so I know I can do it for the mortgage too!!
Don’t be scared to give it a try! Even I still mess up every now and then. I just brush it off and move on! My stockpile wasn’t formed over night. It took a while, so don’t get discouraged. What’s your reason to coupon? We all have one, whether we coupon or still need to start.