5 tips for new couponers
Canadian couponing tips
Couponing has become more and more popular since the very first episode of TLC’s Extreme Couponing back in December 2010. There are now many people with coupon fever! Since this show launched, I have been receiving numerous emails from people, asking how they can start to see significant savings off their grocery bill.
Using coupons is actually very simple, but people make it complicated when they try to replicate the types of shopping trips they see on TV. Please know that the transactions you see on Extreme Couponing are not the norm. Couponers rarely shop to that extreme and see savings that great. It’s just a little bit of TV magic.
However, it is certainly possible to save quite a bit of money using coupons.
If you are new to using coupons and are confused about where to begin, here are some tips for you.
1. Start small
This is the number one piece of advice I give to every new couponer. It’s imperative that you do not try to do too much at once. If you do, it’s likely that you will become overwhelmed, exhausted, and frustrated and will give up on couponing together, before you ever really have a shot at getting it “right”.
Do not try to attempt price matching, coupons, mail-in rebates, and coupon overage for your first (or even second) shopping trip. Start with one thing at a time and gradually start adding in more money-saving techniques as you get comfortable with your new skill.
I suggest doing some price matching first. Do this a few times until you get the hang of it, and then try doing some price matching AND adding in coupons. Only a few coupons at first, though. Slowly add more and more coupons.
Once you are comfortable with coupons and price matching, you can try using coupons that give you overage. Then you can add in mail-in rebates, and so on and so forth.
Keep in mind that it could take months (or longer) before you are completely comfortable at the checkout – and that’s okay! Don’t try to rush it. Doing just a little bit of time is an important step in building your confidence.
2. Don’t compare
Another thing that I always tell first-time couponers is to avoid comparing yourself to others. Don’t try to copy a shopping trip that you see another blogger or friend complete – and definitely do not try to do massive shopping trips as they do on Extreme Couponing (not at first, anyway!).
It takes a very long time to master the “art” of couponing. It’s not something that you can learn overnight. It takes lots of time, patience, and dedication.
Purchase the number of items that you see fit for your family. Just because you see someone else buy 15 jars of jam, that doesn’t mean that you need to do the same (especially if your family doesn’t eat much jam). Only bring home items that you are able to use up before expiration and only store the number of items you have space for in your home.
3. Don’t go overboard
When I first started using coupons and realized how easy it was for me to score so many items for free or cheap, I went overboard and bought way too much stuff. Many things that I bought were items that we didn’t even use.
I remember one instance when I bought around 30 packages of Purina Busy Bones for about $0.50 per package. They were regularly around $4 each, so I was very impressed with the savings and used all of my coupons on this one product.
The problem? We don’t give our dog treats. I ended up paying around $20 (including taxes) for a product we didn’t even use! Spending money on something you don’t need is not a good way to save money.
I learned that just because there are savings available, that doesn’t mean I need to get them all myself. It’s okay to pass on the deals that will not be beneficial to your family. Don’t stock up on an item unless it’s something you know you will be able to use in a reasonable amount of time.
4. Don’t forget the etiquette
Many new couponers are not aware of the “rules” when it comes to couponing. There are lots of people out there using coupons (now more than ever!), and it’s important to be courteous to those people when you’re shopping. Here are some coupon rules (also known as coupon etiquette) that you should be aware of:
- NEVER take an entire tear pad of coupons from the store. Take a small amount and leave some for others. There should always be at least one coupon left on the tear pad when you leave the store (unless there is only one when you get there!).
- Do not take coupon inserts from your neighbors’ newspaper. If you are looking for more of these inserts, simply ask your neighbors, friends, and family. Don’t just take them!
- When you are trading coupons with someone or participating in a coupon train, never send expired coupons, or coupons that cannot be used in Canada (coupons with a US address, for example).
- Do not photocopy your coupons. Never, ever do this – it’s illegal!
Those are just a few tips about coupon etiquette. Coupons are a privilege, not a right. Please don’t abuse them!
5. Be patient
Finally, if you’re in this for the long haul, expect that it is going to take quite a bit of practice before you really see significant savings. You cannot possibly learn everything there is to know about couponing in one sitting. Remember, practice makes perfect!
There are so many new deals and new coupons all the time, so don’t feel as if you must get them all.
Like I said earlier, learning how to use coupons the “right” way is something that requires quite a bit of time. Don’t go into it thinking you are going to learn all the ins and outs in one month and have a stockpile with a year’s worth of goods in two.
Be patient, and after a while, you will start to see all of your efforts paying off.
Couponing is not for everyone. Well, extreme couponing is not for everyone.
Using coupons to lower your grocery bill is a fantastic way to save money and is probably one of the best things you can do for your budget. Just remember that you need to practice, practice, practice and you will be well on your way in the couponing world!