247Moms Frugal Living Editor
I read a lot of local “money-saving” websites and a common question is “how do I get more of the coupons I need?” There is an affordable answer to that question. Back in September of 2010, two people went searching for a coupon club in our area. Not finding one, they received permission from a local grocery manager to invite couponers to meet. At that first meeting, a volunteer from a local food bank wowed us with how she leads an effort to save the food bank 75-percent on their grocery staples. It was then that “Coupons for Our Community” was started, to provide coupons to both families and local food banks. Coupon inserts are collected to be shared with coupon clubs and the local food bank.
Couponing, in my community, has become a fun, anticipated social event. We bring the new and the experienced couponers together – and everyone benefits. As a result, we help to eliminate several of the obstacles, including the acquisition of multiple coupons. Busy families also are limited in their money-saving goals with presence of children and a lack of “life-organization”. Meal planning as it is mentored at our coupon clubs, brings together all of the steps necessary to saving money on everyday items.
At our coupon club “Clip n’ Chats”, we provide the coupon inserts, grocery list/meal planners and extra arms to hold the babies. As a side benefit, the “dumpster diving” connotation from couponing is also eliminated with the crates of coupon inserts we provide -no hip boots required.
How Do We Do It?: As with any event, you have to take care of the “5 W’s and H”. Begin with a friend or two, and network through your circles to find those who can help make this happen.
Why?: Sharing money-saving tools and camaraderie are the initial rewards. There are long-term advantages, as we watch youngsters clip coupons or learn to form a grocery list. Military wives find a new community through their participation, which feels like a home away from home. We’re helping to “cut out hunger” today, and help families eat better (and more affordably) in the future. As coordinator, you can cultivate beneficial relationships with local stores, acquiring freebies, coupons and “Good Deal Alerts” to share with your members.
Where Can You Meet?: Libraries, schools, community centers, restaurants – or perhaps a local grocery store are options. Your local chamber of commerce is a potential partner, as the club can be an advertising place for local businesses.
When: Time and day of your meetings may change at first, as you learn the preferences of your guests. Our club currently meets one weeknight every other week, every Friday morning and one Saturday morning a month.
Who Can We Invite?Build a Social, Money-Saving Coupon Club Near You: Once you have location for your meetings, you can begin advertising. Post invitations to your “Clip n Chats” where couponers are, online and in-person. This is also the time to begin finding sources of coupon inserts. We’ve found that retirement communities and senior centers can be valuable supporters, as they receive the coupon inserts but usually use fewer coupons than our families do. Approach possible community partners with information on the coupon insert donation project. Your flyer can be a combination of advertising for members and on side two, explaining the insert collection program. Once you’re established, you can invite local media to profile the group and its mission.
What Do You Need?: Basic supplies for your meetings include several pairs of scissors, paperclips, envelopes, copies of a grocery list and/or menu planner, crayons and coloring books (or other kid occupation tools), large index card boxes with dividers for guests to donate clipped coupons, recycling bin, garbage can, a club notebook for guest registration, and coupon insert storage boxes. At our club, we also supply guests with a “Good Deal Alert” list, printed from a local money-saving website. These lists match store sales with available coupons. A link to the “Good Deal Alert” is also broadcast in the weekly email, giving credit to the blogger and the opportunity for guests to use the links for printable coupons. Members are provided with advertising supplies and collection boxes to help in the collection of coupons.
Optional club features include: select advertising/savings from local businesses, non-insert coupons, freebies, welcome folders with basic couponing tips, copies of store policies, etc. Creating a weekly newsletter page (featuring club information, an online/in-store freebie link, local event information, garage sale listings, business promotions, etc.) is also a fun idea. A weekly email updates guests and those with interest in “Coupons for Our Community”, of the project’s activities. A laptop with internet access can be helpful for using online coupon databases – a great tool for matching grocery lists to available coupons.
At the Meetings: Arrange your tools and features. Guests are welcomed, introduced to other guests and to what the club has to offer. The host(s) and/or coordinator are available to answer questions from guests and to ensure all are finding what they need. Get ready to enjoy valuable conversation, as you’ve provided a time where the group can share their successes and ideas. At closing time, supplies are returned to their travel boxes and the room returned to its previous condition.
Coupon clubs and “Coupons for Our Community” projects will vary by the interests and communities they serve. There is unlimited potential for communities to positively impact families.