Friday, May 13, 2011

How Do I Get Started?

I've been asked repeatedly by complete strangers, friends, and family.......How Do I Get Started?

It's easy really - pick up a Sunday newspaper!  Ok that seems like a no-brainer right?  But you absolutely can not coupon if you do not have coupons!  So it's important to get your collection going!

I buy 5 newspapers minimum each week.  Now that may seem like a lot for some of you, and it might well be.  I've always went with the rule of one paper per person living in the house.  That means come November when my husband retires from the Air Force and moves back here to Michigan I'll be buying 6.  (I make him buy his own and get the coupons right now)  This allows you to get enough coupons to buy multiples of the FREE items, or next to FREE items, so that you can start a stockpile.  I'm not a huge stockpile person, but I have a pretty decent stockpile going right now.  (I'll post my stockpile contents in a separate post)

Get organized!  Another no-brainer?   One would think - but for the longest time I thought I could simply clip the coupons, pile them up, grab the pile and head to the grocery store and expected to save money.  And I did save a little, but nothing to write home (or a blog) about!  If you can't find the coupon quickly you're going to HATE couponing!  You need a binder!  I tried the little coupon wallets, I tried envelopes, and eventually I gave in an got a binder.  I don't know what I did without it, and quite honestly I save way more now that I have it.  My shopping trips take less time too!

Start small.  Don't think that you're going to grab a Sunday paper this week and then hit the local grocery store and save 90%.  You will not be able to shop like the women and men on Extreme Couponers week over week.  Keep in mind they're on television, and they're all doing their biggest haul ever, so they don't get those results all the time, and you shouldn't expect to either.

Find a place to get information from quickly.  Coupon match-ups are hard to do - especially if you're just starting out.  The last thing you need to worry about is the math behind a coupon!  Sites like Stretch that Dollar (where you are now) or WeUseCoupons are a great place to get a lot of information in a little time.  (hey if you do sign up on WeUseCoupons remember to tell them that stretchthatdollar sent you!)  We do the work for you - so all you have to do is grab your binder, print a list, and head to the store.

Never leave home without it!  There's lots of things some of us never leave home without....our cell phones, wallets, credit cards, lipstick, etc.  Add your coupon binder to that "never leave home without it" list!  I keep mine in a bag so when I pick up my purse to head out I pick up my bag that has my binder, scissors, sale ads for the week, etc. as well.  That way if I'm called on the way home for an "emergency" stop to get ice cream, milk, a protractor (yep - that actually happened just this week) I have my coupons with me and if I happen to run across a great deal I can pick it up.  (Remember to check the clearance section of EVERY store you're in EVERY time you're in it!)

Above everything else don't get discouraged.  There will be scissor accidents, missing inserts from your newspaper because some inconsiderate person went through and took them out but only bought 1 paper, paper cuts, unfriendly cashiers, people that look at you like you have 3 heads when you walk into the store carrying a binder full of coupons and pick up a protractor, math errors, etc.  It's going to happen.  It happens to the best of us.  Just keep your head up, know that you're on the right track, and keep plugging away!

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