Monday, October 27, 2008

Basics of Couponing

Often, I get asked how complicated it is to begin couponing. People have this misconception that it takes hours and hours and tons of trips to the store, but that doesn't have to be the case.

Here are some things you can do today to get started on couponing.

1. Subscribe to blogs about couponing and saving money. Pick a blog reader that works for you (such as Bloglines or Google Reader). I use Google Reader because I have a Gmail account already and I like the way it works. Most bloggers have a "Subscribe to this blog" button on their blog that looks like this:
You can see I have a "Subscribe" feature up on the upper-right side of my blog. If it's a Blogspot blog, like this one, there will also be a link at the very bottom of the blog that says "Subscribe to: Posts (Atom)". You can click on that link to subscribe. Also, in Google Reader, there's an "Add a Subscription" link on the left where you can simply cut & paste the blog's URL and add it that way.

You'll learn pretty quickly which blogs are helpful and worth reading and which are not. It's easy to unsubscribe in the Google Reader if you find that blog unhelpful; just click on the blog, and then select "Unsubscribe" under "Feed Settings".

2. Get the Sunday paper. Occasionally, coupons appear in the Thursday or Friday paper, so double-check with your local newspaper to find out when they are there. I used to get it delivered to my house for a discount, and I'm waiting for them to offer me a good deal before I subscribe again. I got this week's paper for free at CVS. So if you can get a good deal in your area, subscribe. Otherwise, pick it up at the store & make sure it has the coupons in it before you buy it.

3. Print coupons off the web. Click on my banner on my site, and I get some sort of compensation when you print coupons :) Also, check out manufacturer's websites. Often, they have coupons for products you use that you can print out. Sometimes, they require registration, so set up a junk e-mail account that you use for those purposes. You can contact companies directly and ask them to mail you coupons.

4. Make a coupon binder or folder. Everyone has a different system for this. Trent over at Simple Dollar organizes his coupons by expiration date. Money-saving Mom uses an envelope system. I used to have an index card box that was similar to Money-saving Mom's system. After that, I had a plastic accordion-style coupon holder. Now, I've decided on a hybrid of Trent & Money-saving Mom's system. I'll share about that in a separate post.

This will get you started. Simply having the coupons, having a system for organizing them, and seeing how others are using their coupons and what deals they're scoring will get you off to a good start! I don't want to overwhelm you, so I'll share more ideas in upcoming posts :)

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