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Friday, April 29, 2011

Couponing FAQ Part 1 - Avoiding the 5 top "Newbie" Couponing Pitfalls

It was March of 2010 when I first saw MrCoupon (Nathan) from on a Nightline special talking about this "Extreme Couponing" business.  I watched that segment 5 or 6 times trying to catch the website address spelled out in Jell-O boxes in the driveway.  LOL  Once I finally had it, I was off!  I lurked and read at for a month before I finally jumped in and joined the site (it's FREE, by the way... my favorite price!  hehe), there was soooo much information there, I was like a kid in a candy store, reading and absorbing all that I could.  The wealth of information that folks share out of the kindness of their hearts is simply astounding.  So here I am a little over a year later, saving tons of money (LOL) and now sharing the information I have learned for couponing in Vermont and New England both as a Forum Leader at, and my own Blog, VTCouponer.

In my couponing travels, I not only fell into many of the Newbie Couponing Pitfalls myself, I read about them all the time on the forums.  Here are all the things I have experienced / read about that are very common among new couponers and how to avoid them:
1 - I am so overwhelmed!  This is too much!  I don't know where to start!
This has got to be the TOP post I see from new couponers.  Heck, I've been there myself, I know how you feel.  But as with learning ANY new skill, learning to coupon takes TIME to perfect.  It's not something that happens overnight.  The best advice for newbies is to pick ONE store in your area to concentrate on first, only ONE, learn that store inside and out and get comfortable with couponing in general.  I know, I know, there are soooo many great deals out there it's hard to not want to run out and grab them all!  The problem with that arises that you end up spending MORE right off the bat rather than less, and/or you get so burnt out by taking on too much at first that you get overwhelmed and give up.  Pick ONE store, grocery, box store, drugstore, it doesn't matter, once you get comfortable with couponing practices, wording, policies, idiosyncracies, etc at ONE store, it is much easier to learn others.  Just relax, take your time, learn how to coupon correctly and courteously, and you will be couponing like a pro in no time!

2 - Hey wait, I'm spending MORE since I started couponing and I'm blowing my budget... what gives?
As mentioned above, this is a VERY common thing.  First off, you are thinking, "I have ALL these coupons, I HAVE to use them!"  The main reason seasoned couponers are so successful is because they know how to play the waiting game.  Sales and coupons are cyclical, they always come around again.  Wait for a sale on the item you have a coupon for, don't use it when the item is full price, and if there is no deal before the coupon expires, there will be another time, another sale and another coupon, I promise!  :)  The other thing I also mentioned above was the desire to run out and grab every deal, this can be a budget blower for sure!  Even if the item is free, you have to remember tax, gas, buying coupons or newspapers, ink and paper for printing coupons, fillers, all the things that are just pocket change or dollars, and as we learned from one of the Golden Rules of Couponing, "Those cents and dollars add up!", well that works in reverse also.  Those cents and dollars you are saving are quickly negated when you account for the "cost" of your couponing.

3 - I have all these coupons I'm never going to use, what do I do with them?
First off, let me tell you my perception of "coupons that I would never use in a million years" has changed dramatically since I first started couponing.  I was way too eager to get rid of coupons that ended up being freebies or money makers down the road just because I wasn't patient enough.  I now tell all new couponers to hang onto everything they get, with the exception of course being the things you are 100% sure you will not use, for instance: diaper or formula coupons when you don't have a baby, pet supply coupons when you don't have any animals, and so on.  But if you are only 99.9% sure you will never use it, hang onto it.  There is a wonderful RAOK (Random Act of Kindness) and FSOT (For Sale or Trade) forum at to give away or trade coupons you don't need.  Worst case scenario, you don't use the coupon before it expires, in that case there are wonderful people right at that take expired coupon donations and send them to US Military bases overseas where they can use them up to 6 months past the expiration date.

4 - I'm finding all these printable coupons online, I'm printing them all, should I?
Yup, been there, done this one too.  I printed everything I could get my hands on when I first started and ended up wasting alot of paper, ink, time clipping, and ended up with alot of expired printable coupons.  I am much more selective about what I print now, the only time I print a coupon for something that isn't an sale that week is if it is a really hot coupon and quite possibly will be gone if I wait or if it's an item that I purchase regularly and again, know I will use the coupon.  Forums like have lots of posts letting fellow couponers know when there is a hot coupon available for print.  Over time you will find the balance of what you need to print and what you can pass on.

5 - I only have "ABC" store and they don't double or I live in *insert name of really small town here* and am very limited on stores, there is no way couponing will work for me, right?
The answer is yes, it will work for you to both situations.  Sure, you won't get some of the deals you see some other couponers in other areas get, but I know many, MANY couponers that have NO stores that double and/or live in a VERY small town or rural area and they do phenomenal!  It all goes back to learning and knowing your stores and putting the time into finding the best deals available to you in your particular area.  You can Extreme Coupon pretty much ANYWHERE, except for places that don't take coupons, of course!  LOL  I live in a pretty rural area of VT and I still save anywhere from 50% to 85%, sometimes more, on my shopping trips, even at the stores that don't double.

I will be continuing this series of Couponing FAQ's so stay tuned for more common questions from new couponers!  Happy Couponing!  :)

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