Between the TV series “Extreme Couponing” and the growing popularity of coupon websites everywhere on the internet, more and more people are trying to learn how to start couponing to copy what they see these mega-savers doing, but many busy people are becoming frustrated when they can't match the savings of those promised by others.
I know that I am one of those people, because I love good deals, but I'm not able to put in hours every week sorting through the circulars, coupon mailers, and online coupon sites to snag those savings. If you listen closely to these 'extreme couponers' methods, what they do isn't difficult in theory. The most difficult part of couponing for beginners is the time needed to invest into researching how to stack the deals and also obtaining multiple copies of the same coupon.
Not many people have time for this involved couponing process. At least we don't! We both work full-time day jobs, run an eBay business, and have to buy inventory to keep the business going in between all of our other day-to-day household chores and obligations.
The #1 trick we've learned about how to start couponing is buying your coupons for maximum efficiency
It sounds counterintuitive, but let me explain:
I was about to give up on couponing due to frustration when I made the time-saving discovery that these same coupon clippers will do most of the work for you by obtaining multiple copies of the same coupon and selling them to you online for a very small convenience fee (the actual sale of coupons is prohibited, so they are selling you their time for clipping the coupons).
Now all you have to do when you spot a great sale in the grocery store is look on one of these websites for a coupon being sold for that item and figure out how to layer the savings. I'll explain what that means in this post. This step must be done quickly so you receive your coupons in time before the sale ends.
Here's an example:
Two years ago, there was a sale on Suave products at our local Giant Eagle grocery store. The sale was for body wash, shampoo and deodorant, including the 'professional' Suave product lines. The price was 2 for $3, AND for every 10 products you bought, you got 10 cents off of every gallon of gas loaded to your savings card for the store's affiliate gas station. We went onto eBay and found 30 coupons for Suave products for 75 cents off of any item. We paid less than $5 for all 30 coupons with shipping. Since Giant Eagle doubles coupons up to 99 cents off, each coupon would be worth $1.50 and thus make the product free. To put even more icing on the cake, we bought 30 products and received 30 cents off per gallon of gas. We then filled our gas cans and our car up with the maximum allowed 30 gallons and saved $9 total.
So, we walked away with $45 worth of bath products and earned ourselves $9 worth of free gasoline, minus our initial investment of $5 for the coupons. We've been squeaky clean for the past 2 years and are just now running low on bath products.
If it weren't for the ability to purchase coupons, I would have never taken advantage of this sale. I'm not even sure how to go about obtaining 30 coupon circulars to cut out the coupons, and don't have the time to do so.
The experience above is a great example of what I call 'layering' the savings. By choosing a coupon for an item already on sale and with a simultaneous promotion (the 10 cents off of gas for every 10 products bought), many layers of savings are applied to make the item free or almost free. In this case, we actually made a little bit of money from the gas perks.
We had similar couponing experiences with shaving cream and cat litter. The cat litter coupons were awesome because that was back when eBay let you buy and sell coupons for free stuff. We got $400 worth of Fresh Step free litter coupons for $50, and all we had to do was click. Unfortunately, eBay has changed its coupon selling policies in recent years, and it's now prohibited to sell coupons for free stuff there and the rest of the coupon market on eBay is dwindling. However, you can now buy coupons on other websites.
In our opinion, some of the best coupon sites are:
These sites offer clipping services and some even offer instant free printable coupons.
Have you noticed a trend in our couponing endeavors? We do love our personal hygeine, but we coupon personal care types of products the most because:
They never go bad
Soap and bath products don't spoil and they don't require special storage conditions. I toss everything in a bin and take it out as we need it.
They are products we use anyways
Sometimes in order to get a great deal with a coupon, people end up buying a product that they would normally not buy in the first place if there was no coupon. We make sure to only look for coupons on products that we know we like and we know we will use. This way, we know for sure that we're coming out ahead and not buying things just for the sake of using a coupon.
We don't get tired of them (unlike food)
One time, Andrew found a great coupon and layered it with a sale on Barilla pasta microwavable dinners, which I frequently took to work for lunch. He got them for about 25 cents a piece. That's right around the time I decided I was sick of said dinners and wanted nothing to do with the twenty packages we had just bought. Whoops. On a positive note, we donated what we didn't eat to the food bank so it didn't go to waste.
This type of couponing that we take advantage of is low-stress, highly effective, and simple for our busy lives. We only buy things we need, things that are non-perishible, and things that we would be buying regardless of if we had coupons or not.
We're coupon novices and we're still able to take advantage of these great deals! I'm sure we could do so much better, but we'll take what we can get for now!
Did you learn something new from this article? Interested in more money saving articles? Check out 4 Environmentally Friendly Tips on How to Save Money and never miss a beat by subscribing to our email list, where you'll get members-only articles and new posts delivered straight to your inbox.
Leave a comment below and share the 'luv' with the comment luv plugin that links to your latest blog post
If you enjoyed the post, sign up for more great free content! Thanks