Couponing 101: Basics of Couponing

Amy Hannold, 247Moms Frugal Living Editor
Defined goals, review/revision of your goals, networkingand organization are the keys to getting the most from couponing. 
For those new to couponing, there is a time of learningand transition.  Realize that youmay be learning a new “language” and changing some habits. Approach couponingwith a positive, open mind; you’re embarking on a new adventure which will improveyour family life for years to come.
As with any new habit, you want to measure the positiveimpact resulting from your efforts – otherwise, how would you know if you weremaking a difference?   Total your receipts from the past fewweeks.  Determine a spending amountthat is less than before, but still reasonable given your routine.  Additionally, you can identify a goalwhich would have an immediate, encouraging effect on your progress.  For example, “I want to spend less ondiapers and baby food.”  Inwhatever system you use to organize daily activities, create a space to trackyour progress.  Review your goalsat a specific time each month or week, whatever is your preference.  Are you saving money?  Revise as you need improvement or areready to expand your goal to other areas of your spending.
Everything is more fun when you have a social circle toencourage you. Find and network with others who are coupon savvy – or“coupon-interested”.  Partner witha friend, and challenge one another to save money.  A team effort multiplies the amount of money you willsave.  Think of how many more eyesand ears will be out there finding the good deals – so keep in touch!
Your network of couponing resources should include a“Money-Saving Blog” from your area. Because coupon distribution and stores are regional, you need aregion-specific website.  Mostmoney-saving blogs/sites offer a “kaleidoscope” view of both in-store andonline “Good Deal Alerts.  Iusually suggest that new couponers follow one “national” and one localmoney-saving website.  Don’toverwhelm yourself at first.  Videoor written tutorials, coupon databases, and other features vary – many of thesites reference other sites’ information – find one that meets your needs andinterests. 
Basic Coupon Purpose and Strategy:   We seek to get more of what we need, for less, when it’s onsale.  Grocery store sales rotatein an average 13-week cycle.  Whenitems you use often are on sale, use coupons and buy enough to have them hand athome until it will likely be on sale once again. You’ll avoid multiple (moreexpensive) trips to the grocery store. 
Things to Look For This Week:
Coupon Exchanges or Clubs:  Either in-person or online, you can create a group whichmeets to share successes in saving, coupons, and local info on where the bestdeals can be found.  Create aFacebook page for shoppers in your area, or for folks who want to begin changingtheir spending habits. 
More Coupons: Begin spreading the word at work, school, church, and with neighborsthat you’re using coupons.  Perhapsthis will be a step toward finding a “frugal friends” playdate or coffee group! 
Meal planning, shopping preparation and coupon efficiencywill help. 
We’ll explore those during July’s “FrugalLiving” Thursdays. 


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