Beginning couponers often give up out of sheer frustration and confusion after only a brief try at reaping the benefits promised by online sites and TV shows extolling the hard-to-believe savings available through couponing. In several of my past attempts at couponing, I too felt overwhelmed and gave up. Now as a coupon convert, I sometimes have to suppress the urge to do a happy dance at the checkout counter.
Below are some tips to get past the frustration and confusion and enjoy your own checkout happy dance:
- Use coupon sites like Southern Savers or Addicted to Saving. These sites do most of the work for you. They post weekly lists of sales at various grocery and drug stores and show what coupons you can use on these sale items and where to find these coupons. From these weekly lists, you can select the items you want to purchase and print grocery lists to take to the store with you. They also frequently offer online guides to explain how to use these lists effectively. And they give suggestions on how to organize your supply of coupons.
- Don’t feel like you have to give half of your home over to store your stockpile of goods in order to save with coupons. Most items go on sale and/or have coupons frequently enough that a six- to eight-week supply is sufficient.
- Accept that even the most skilled couponers sometimes end up at the store with coupons in hand and a smile on their face, only to discover that the item is sold out (because other couponers were quicker than they were), or that the store will not accept their coupon. Don’t let this frustrate you. It is part of the process and these incidents will become less frequent the more familiar you become with your local store’s policies and the wording on coupons.
- Don’t expect every trip to the store to look like what you see portrayed on television about couponing. How much you save depends greatly on how flexible you are in the brands and types of food you buy. For example, many of my family members have gluten allergies that prevent them from buying items that I save the most money on, such as pasta or frozen breaded chicken strips. Even if brand preference or food restrictions reduce how much you save, there is typically still enough savings to make it worth your time.
- Finally, don’t give up. It usually takes at least six to eight weeks to build up an adequate supply of coupons and to get comfortable understanding how it all works, so don’t feel discouraged if not all of the puzzle pieces click into place right away.
Happy shopping. Hope to see you at the checkout line.