There’s a massive difference between smart and dangerous couponing. If you’re into “Extreme Couponing,” you might be a hoarder. But you don’t have to be. Couponing is simply clipping and using coupons – not clipping and using coupons to grab enough groceries and goods to get you through the Apocalypse.
The way to coupon that actually saves you money is to clip, collect, and redeem coupons for the items you use and want to try. You can even stockpile for the next store cycle of advertisements (I’ll get to that part in a minute).
You should NOT clip and use enough coupons to wipe out the grocery store shelves, unless you want to be a hoarder.
If you love Charmin toilet paper and you’ve got a couple of coupons? Great! You can never have enough toilet paper, unless we are talking about 250 coupons just for toilet paper. If this is the case, then walk away. No, run away. Few Americans can comfortably or sanely store 250 packages of toilet paper. Only buy what you can reasonably use in the next 6-8 weeks.
Be Aware of Grocery Store Cycles
Grocery stores cycle their sale items every 6-8 weeks. Once you’ve been in the couponing gig for a while, you’ll know what sales are approaching, without a lot of thought.
Charmin’s sale won’t circle around again for another six weeks, at least. Florida Orange Juice will be on sale next week, then dip into hiding for a month and a half. Until you have the cycles figured out, do this:
- Check the sales this week
- Clip enough coupons
- Buy the stock you can use for the next six weeks
- Repeat next week
- And the next
Do NOT buy significantly more than what you need. You should be smart about your purchases and savings, instead of buying for the sake of buying.
What do you do if you’ve found that you’ve bought more than you need?
- Donate the excess.
- Give it to your neighbors.
- Just skip this cycle of purchases.
Once you get into serious couponing, you’re running your home as a warehouse and you’ll need to manage it that way.
A warehouse manager can’t afford to stock more than she has room for, and a good manager knows how to streamline their floor with intelligent organization.
Organize Your Coupons and Your Stock
Wherever you get your coupons from, be sure to keep them organized. Get a binder with top loading clear inserts that let you easily see what you have inside. Group them together by grocery store sections you shop, or by the floor plan of the grocery store. This allows you to easily flip through the pages as you stroll through the store. Once you’re an expert couponer, you’ll need to organize your stock as well.
Organizing your stock is a great way to keep yourself far from the world of hoarding. A well-organized system let’s you easily see what you have. This helps you avoid overstocking, even when the air freshener’s cycling again and you could save 70%.
Hoarding is a dangerous habit, and hard to control once you’re knee deep into buying “just because” you have the easy excuse of a coupon. Keep yourself in check and calculate how much you’re going to need each item over the coming 6-8 weeks so you can buy only that. Organize your coupons along with your stock and you’ll always know when too much is too much.
Are you a couponer? What are your secrets to smart couponing?