My Couponing Journey – Giving Back

 

My Couponing Journey: Giving Back - Saving With AppsWith the coming of the holiday season, I’ve decided to write about the blessing of giving back. It has been such an important part of my couponing journey. I didn’t know that it would be when I first started my journey. I was focused on ‘the thrill of the deal’. As time went by, however, I began to reach the realization that buying more for less meant nothing if you didn’t share it with others. There are so many ways that you can give back and using saving opportunities makes it possible to give more than you might be able to otherwise.

One of my favorite ways to give back is participating in Operation Christmas Child. If you aren’t familiar with this program, visit samaritanspurse.com. Briefly, this program involves packing a shoebox with Christmas gifts for a child who would otherwise not get anything for Christmas. I include personal care items like toothpaste, toothbrush, comb, soap and washcloth. I always have most of these items in my stockpile. I also include school supplies like pencils and crayons. A perfect time to get great deals on these items is during the back-to-school sales. I put together eight of these boxes – one for each of my grandchildren. They help pack the boxes and they write a note to include in each box. I think this is a good way for them to learn the importance of giving to others less fortunate than they are.

There are many other ways to give back. I have donated food to families in my community and given needed items to families who’ve lost everything in house fires. I have donated to shelters for victims of domestic violence and to centers that help young girls deal with unplanned pregnancies. Something I have not done yet, but plan to do in the future, is donate pet food and supplies to our local animal shelter.

My first thought when I’m deciding what to buy is “Can someone I know – family or friends – use this product?” I no longer buy something just because it’s a good deal. That ends up in waste and I hate waste! That’s a story for another day.

The take away: Giving is a blessing for all involved.

How do you use your couponing skills to give back? Leave a comment and let us know. We’re always looking for new ideas!

BTW – You can also donate coupons. Here are ways I’ve done it:

I posted earlier about spending many hours cutting out coupons, just to throw a lot of them away when they expired. I discovered a way to put these coupons to good use and help out military families. On military bases overseas, expired coupons can be used six months past the expiration date. I started separating my expired coupons (food and non-food), putting them in labeled bags and sending them to a collection center for this program. My information came from one of my favorite coupon blogs. To read more, go to thekrazycouponlady.com.

I also have donated coupons to friends and coworkers. I organized a coupon exchange where I worked, so that coupons could be taken by those who needed and would use them. I have friends who have dogs so I give all my coupons for dog products to them. Over my years of couponing, friends have made me aware of products they need, like over-the-counter medications, so I give them coupons for the things they have to buy. Giving back by donating coupons can be tailored to the needs of friends and family.

You can also donate coupons to strangers who shop in your area. I leave coupons on store shelves on or close to the corresponding products. My favorite products to do this with are diapers and wipes. There are so many families who struggle to buy these necessities.

Do you have other ways to donate coupons? Leave a comment and let us know!

Read about other steps in my journey:

My Couponing Journey – Getting Started

My Couponing Journey – Organization

My Couponing Journey – Overcoming Fears

My Couponing Journey – The Hook

My Couponing Journey – My First Black Friday

My Couponing Journey – Giving Back

My Couponing Journey – My First Black Friday

 

My Couponing Journey: My First Black Friday - Saving With Apps

 

It’s almost here! Black Friday! The day that most couponers spend weeks preparing for. Only now, it isn’t just a day – it’s two, three, or four days. Maybe even a week, depending on the store. Then, of course, there’s Cyber Monday. No matter the length, it remains the time of the year when you can finally get that big screen TV, computer or gaming system that you’ve been waiting to buy at the best price of the year.

I remember clearly when my daughters said “Mom, you have to go with us to Walmart on Black Friday.” It was just three months after I started couponing. I immediately had visions of wall-to-wall people, of waiting in line for hours just to find out that the item I wanted was all gone and of fighting over the much-sought-after “top toy” of that Christmas season. Of course, I said “Nothing and no one is going to drag me to any store on Black Friday.” My girls were smart. They set aside Walmart (for the moment) and said “You have to look at the Black Friday deals at CVS. There are ten money makers and twenty-one freebies!” Now I ask you, what self-respecting couponer could pass that up?

So, we planned our CVS Black Friday trip (which was actually on Thursday morning). Knowing that the demand would far exceed the supply, we treated it much like a battle plan. We decided to divide and conquer. There were four of us so each person had their section of the store to cover. We made lists and collected our coupons, some of which we printed weeks in advance. We made a trip to the store the night before on a fact-finding mission. Knowing that Black Friday sale items are not always in the section where they would normally be, we found the displays for each moneymaker or free product and made notes so we could find the items quickly. We got to the store half an hour before the doors were scheduled to open and did some last minute strategizing. We were the first of about twenty people through the doors. With our lists in hand, we each went to our section and put four of each sale item into our shopping carts. After we had completed our lists, we met in a back corner of the store to divvy up the loot. Some of the other shoppers were still wondering around, trying to find the sale items, many of which were already gone.

Seem a little extreme? Maybe it was, but we were avid couponers lost in our addiction. Plus, we got some terrific deals! If there was something we didn’t plan to use ourselves, we donated to worthy causes.

Did I take advantage of Walmart Black Friday that year? Yes, I did. I stood in line for four hours to get a laptop for $199. That was about it. All the rest of the good stuff was gone by that time. But I have learned over the years that you can’t get every good deal. If you try to chase every good deal, before you know it, you’re suffering from coupon burnout. It’s happened to me. That’s a story for another day.

The take away: If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

How have you planned for a Black Friday sale? Was it successful? Leave a comment and tell us about your first Black Friday. We’d love to hear from you!

 

Read about other steps in my journey:

My Couponing Journey – Getting Started

My Couponing Journey – Organization

My Couponing Journey – Overcoming Fears

My Couponing Journey – The Hook

My Couponing Journey – My First Black Friday

My Couponing Journey – Giving Back

My Couponing Journey – The Hook

 My Couponing Journey: The Hook - Saving With Apps

 

I know what you’re thinking…”Why is she writing about addiction?” Those of you who have been couponing for a while might know the answer to that question. Couponing can be addictive. I freely admit – I am an addict! I remember clearly the deal that hooked me. It was a deal that got me twelve single packs of Skittles for $0.37. Up until then, I had been couponing half heartedly. After that, I began to show all the signs of addiction. I made sure I got my supply (coupon inserts) every Sunday. I made sure I printed every coupon that I thought I might use. I checked the couponing blogs several times a day. I went to the stores to get my fix (to coupon) two to three times a week. I had a stockpile that took over my whole house. I even couponed while I was on vacation. I bought a portable printer, while I was on vacation, so I could print coupons. I have couponed in six different states!

I just recently decided that I had to put myself into ‘rehab’ – two weeks with no clipping! I went on vacation and did not take my coupons or my printer. I did not check for deals on the couponing blogs even one time. Most importantly (to the people I vacationed with) I didn’t talk about couponing incessantly. I had a wonderful time! I needed the break. Taking time off can keep you from having coupon burnout. That’s a story for another day.

The take away: Couponing is a good thing as long as you remember – money spent on an item not used is money lost – no matter how great the deal.

Are you addicted to couponing? What was the deal that hooked you? Leave a comment and tell us about that part of your couponing journey. We’d love to hear from you!

 

Read about other steps in my journey:

My Couponing Journey – Getting Started

My Couponing Journey – Organization

My Couponing Journey – Overcoming Fears

My Couponing Journey – The Hook

My Couponing Journey – My First Black Friday

My Couponing Journey – Giving Back

My Couponing Journey – Overcoming Fears

My Couponing Journey: Overcoming Fears - Saving With Apps

 

Yes. I have to admit that, when I started couponing, I had to deal with a certain amount of fear. It’s normal to fear the unknown and at first that’s where my fears originated. I didn’t know what would happen in certain situations. I didn’t know how I should respond to those situations. After investing time and effort into putting deals together, there was a certain amount of fear about things that might go wrong. Would the products I wanted be gone from the shelves? Would the computer reject my coupons? Would the cashier have a bad attitude toward couponing? Would other customers give me a hard time?

The fears lessened as I became more experienced in couponing. With each shopping trip, I gained confidence in my abilities to deal with situations that might arise. The fears are mostly gone now. Experience has helped, but more than anything, preparation and organization have helped. Like the quote above says, actions overcome fears – the actions of planning, organizing and carrying out my plans. I have made certain decisions about how I will respond to problems that arise. That’s a story for another day.

The take away: Don’t let fear keep you from doing something that can, in the end, be very rewarding.

Have you experienced certain fears in your couponing efforts? What are those fears? What do you do to calm the fears? Leave a comment and share your experiences with us.

 

Read about other steps in my journey:

My Couponing Journey – Getting Started

My Couponing Journey – Organization

My Couponing Journey – Overcoming Fears

My Couponing Journey – The Hook

My Couponing Journey – My First Black Friday

My Couponing Journey – Giving Back

My Couponing Journey – Organization

My Couponing Journey: Organizaton - Saving With Apps

Organization. Some people are masters at it and others, like me, struggle to create a system that works. As in the rest of life, organization in couponing and other saving techniques is an absolute necessity for increasing productivity and reducing stress. This is the story of my journey to be organized in my couponing endeavors.

I learned very early in my efforts to coupon that I had to get organized or I might possibly lose my sanity. The first task I faced was organizing my coupons. At first, I had a binder (or binders) where I filed all my coupons. A good idea, but I found myself spending hours cutting out the coupons. At least half, if not more, of those coupons were thrown in the trash when they expired. I wasted a lot of time cutting out coupons just to throw them away. I tried several other plans of organization and finally found one that works for me. When I get my inserts, I put the date on the front of each one. Then, I stack all the inserts – oldest on the bottom, most recent on the top – and lay them on a shelf. I have always used coupon blogs and databases when I plan my shopping trips. They help me know which coupons I need.  Now when I need a particular coupon, I pull the correct insert out of my stack, find the coupon I need, and cut it out. This way, I only cut out the coupons I use. No wasted time!

My next task was finding a way to organize for shopping trips. This is crucial for efficiency. Efficiency is not just important to me, but also to the cashier who checks me out and the people behind me in the checkout line. I found something early on that has worked very well. It’s a small inexpensive coupon file. I think mine cost a couple of dollars. On the tabs inside I have the names of the stores where I shop. Behind these tabs I keep my store loyalty cards and the coupons I’m using at each store. I make a list of what I’m buying, what the price for each item is, any special store offer, what coupons I’m using for each purchase and what my final cost will be. I know when I get to the register what I can expect back in store rewards and I have all my coupons together for my transaction. Most of my transactions go very smoothly, but, sometimes, no matter how organized I am, problems arise. That is a story for another day.

The take away: Couponing can be stressful. Lessen that stress by being organized.

How do you organize your coupons? How do you organize for shopping trips? Leave a comment and tell us about your organization journey.

 

Read about other steps in my journey:

My Couponing Journey – Getting Started

My Couponing Journey – Organization

My Couponing Journey – Overcoming Fears

My Couponing Journey – The Hook

My Couponing Journey – My First Black Friday

My Couponing Journey – Giving Back

My Couponing Journey – Getting Started

My Couponing Journey: Getting Started - Saving With Apps

It’s a fact of life that we must keep learning or we’re left behind. I spent most of my adult life in a classroom teaching children. At a point in my career, I began teaching adults – parent volunteers, instructional assistants, other teachers. Teaching children was much easier. At a certain time in their lives, many people think they have learned all they need to learn and they’re satisfied with what they know. You would think that a teacher would never get to that point, but I did. How is this relevant to a savings blog? This is the story of how I became a couponer.

In the summer of 2011, my two daughters began to push me to start using coupons. I was not interested at all! It was too much trouble! I was so accustomed to just going into a store, picking up what I wanted, and paying whatever it cost. That does not mean that I had a lot of money. It does mean that I was at that point when I thought “I don’t need to learn anything new. I’m satisfied with the status quo.”

My daughters would not leave me alone. So, one day I went couponing with them. I did a couple of deals using information and coupons they gave me. That day began a change in my way of thinking. I began learning as much as I could about the many and varied ways to save. Now, I hardly ever pay full price for anything. And the money that I’ve saved over the past four years has allowed me to lead a more fulfilled life. How? By allowing me to give more to others. That’s a story for another day.

The take away: Learn something new today. It might change your tomorrow.

Have you started your couponing journey? How did you get started? While learning to coupon, what was the most important thing you learned about yourself? How has couponing changed your life? Leave a comment and share with us.

 

Read about other steps in my journey:

My Couponing Journey – Getting Started

My Couponing Journey – Organization

My Couponing Journey – Overcoming Fears

My Couponing Journey – The Hook

My Couponing Journey – My First Black Friday

My Couponing Journey – Giving Back