Coupon Trains: All Aboard for Savings Right to Your Mailbox

by Gina Blitstein · 1 comment

Couponers are well aware that there are many valuable coupons available that they will personally never redeem. The reasons vary: it’s for dog food and you have cats; your children are (finally) out of diapers; your family doesn’t eat potato chips or it is simply for not your brand. Whatever the reason, no matter their value, a lot of coupons pass through your hands that you never use. That doesn’t mean, however, that there aren’t a lot of folks who would appreciate getting their hands on those same coupons. Ideally, there would be a way to get desired coupons directly to those who want to use them.

Coupon trains are a method of doing just that — delivering coupons to those who desire them. A coupon train consists of a group of dedicated couponers who exchange coupons among themselves, the goal being to provide more useful coupons to those who can benefit from them.

Here’s how coupon trains work:

A group of coupon users get together, in person or over the Internet. They arrange to send an envelope of coupons via postal mail to each other, constantly rotating from one to another throughout the group. Each participant in the train takes the coupons she wants from the envelope, replacing them with the same number of her unwanted coupons. She then mails the envelope to the next participant who does likewise. Thus, each member of the coupon train receives the opportunity to receive coupons she wants and make her unwanted coupons available to others.

Consult the Internet to find existing coupon trains — or you can start your own. Here are some best practices to follow when participating in a coupon train:

  1. The coupon train envelope should include 30 to 50 coupons and a list of the members in the order in which they are to be mailed the envelope. Contact information for each participant (such as email address or phone number) should also be included in case of last-minute changes or emergencies that could potentially delay the train’s progress to the next participant.
  2. One member should be designated the “engineer.” She is in charge of keeping track of where the envelope is at any given time and making sure it is moving along at an appropriate speed. She is also responsible for seeing that participants follow the established guidelines so that the train remains beneficial for all.
  3. Participants should provide a “wish list” of preferred coupons so that others can accommodate individual needs when possible.
  4. Each participant should courteously discard any expired coupons – and those set to expire within a few weeks so that the next member receives a packet of the most usable coupons possible.
  5. The coupon envelope should move along in a timely fashion. A member should only keep the envelope for a couple days so that the coupons will not expire while on their way to the next participant.
  6. Try to send the most valuable coupons you can for your fellow coupon train “riders” and they will be more likely to do so for you. Avoid sending store or location-specific coupons, unless you know the other participants will want them.
  7. While it sounds like more coupons would be better, stay aware that each participant needs to pay for postage to send the envelope on, so keeping it “lean and mean” is the most advantageous strategy.

If your group can work as a team, a coupon train is a great way to share the wealth that coupons represent.

Could your savings strategy benefit from participation in a coupon train?

Bonus Tip:

You can seriously cut your Internet and TV costs. Find a Verizon FiOS promotion code here and you might be able to spend less every month.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Lauren September 28, 2012 at 2:47 pm

This is terrific. I’ve never heard of this idea, but like most ingenious ideas I discover, I wonder why I didn’t think of it myself. Definitely passing it on! My parents will enjoy this. 🙂

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