Coupon shopping is in my blood! I have done it since I was about 5 years old. My mom used to take with her to the local library to pick through the coupon box they had there and then we use to head to the stores to see what we could find. My mom would spend hours searching for the best sales and the coupons she could stack with it. She would hand me a coupon and send me down the aisle to find the product and the price and report back to her. I wish I could tell you that I loved this time and that it was something I looked forward to but the truth is when I was little I hated these shopping trips. Not because I didn’t like hanging out with my mom, my mom is actually one of my best friends and I love sending time with her but these trips were always so long and boring to me that I really couldn’t stand going.
Now that I am a wife and mother myself I cannot tell you how much I appreciate all those times my mom made me go and many hours she poured into teaching me this skill. Now, I do not pay full price for anything unless I absolutely have to. If I have a second to breathe between keeping house and homeschooling you best believe I am researching some way I can save money on my next grocery trip. This skill has allowed my family to cut our grocery budget in half and has given us more income to put towards paying off our mountain of debt.
I have spent a lot of time over the years working with people trying to teach them what I know about couponing and there are a few things I almost always run into. A few misbeliefs about what coupon shopping is really like. Unfortunately, I have seen many people walk away from couponing before they have barely begun. They walk in all kinds of excited to save money like a pro only to have their motivation completely drowned when they realize the truth. So here are a few things you need to know BEFORE you make that first shopping trip.
Couponing is hard work-
By far the number one thing I have seen drive people to quit couponing is when they realize that there is a lot of time and effort involved in those massive hauls. Those trips are far from a spur of the moment thing. They take time to track down all the awesome sales and good coupons to go with them. I have spent upwards to 30 hours a week planning for a massive shopping trip. If you are looking for quick and easy then couponing probably is not going to be a very good hobby for you to consider taking on. If you don’t take the time to do the research and get yourself organized you run the risk of throwing the whole shopping trip off and pay full price! You have to do your homework.
Extreme couponing shows are not real-
This one is particularly angering to me. Not just as a couponer but as someone who worked in a grocery store for a decade. I can not tell you how many people walk into couponing thinking that it’s going to be “just like that show they saw!” No. No. NO!!!!! A true couponer knows that there are freebies and moneymakers out there however those are the exception. Not every haul is going to result in a pallet of free canned goods in the back of your truck. In fact, the truth is most stores and coupon policies make it very difficult to score a few freebies let alone whole truckloads of them. Think about this. How many people would tune in every week to watch a show about someone who walked out of their local grocery store having scored a few free boxes of cereal? Probably not very many. Rules have to be bent or broken. Not once in my entire retail career did a single one of my extreme couponers get paid to take home their deals. No matter how many coupons they presented me with. Please don’t make the mistake of thinking that couponing is what you see on tv! You will be a lot less disappointed.
Couponing takes practice and patience-
We didn’t get this good overnight. Even those of us who were raised with it have spent years practicing and perfecting our technique. The retail world is an ever-changing one and we have to learn to roll with the seasons. Changes in processes and policies happen all the time and even the most expert couponer must adjust accordingly. You are not going to “score” every time. Sometimes you may not even score at all. It’s kinda like that box of chocolates Forrest is always quoted about. “You never know what you’re going to get.”
Most importantly remember that what works for one couponer won’t always work for you-
Everyone has their own style. Some strictly use digital apps, some still clip those Sunday papers. Some are brand loyal, others don’t even care what the product is as long as they aren’t paying the full price it’s going in the cart! Your couponing isn’t going to look like everyone else’s. Find what works for you and run with it. Once you find your groove couponing can be so much fun! Like a treasure hunt. Team up with fellow couponers and turn it can into a friendly competition. My mom is currently kicking my butt on the Ibotts front but I have the upper hand in the fetch reward game. Above all keep it fun and who knows what kind of awesome stuff will come your way.