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The Five Sins of a Couponer

19 March 2013

Hey guys! So I've been doing this coupon thing for a while now and out of all the "do and don't" lists out there...here's another one! Obviously this is better because it is a living list that I have generated after making all of these mistakes. Well more like the five sins of a couponer or couponer-to-be. 

One, Purchasing items that you do not use or need in your home just to purchase on a deal.
     You can get a lot of merchandise on the cheap when it comes to couponing and matching store deals but is it always worth it? The short answer is, NO. Just because you can does not mean that you should. Not only does it push you towards breaking your budget on things that might never be used before expiration, but it is sort of wasteful. Believe me, I know how hard and addicting it can be to score a great deal. It is a high and a significant sense of accomplishment! I think I placed this "sin" at the number 1 position because the first year of couponing, I went a little buck wild! I was buying all sorts of stuff that we didn't need and never got around to using. That drains money and apartment storage space!


     Think of those "Extreme Couponer" shows. The couponers' basement/garage/inventory storage spaces are typically lined with RubberMaid shelving stocked to the brim with cleaning supplies, body wash, mustard and canned goods. Sure, you could argue that they've purchased all of the body wash/cleaning supplies they could use for the rest of their lives but why? There has to be some level of turnover and a healthy balance. Otherwise it is a waste. So choose wisely and make sure that what you are purchasing actually has a purpose. 

Two, Skipping out on Sunday papers and coupon websites.
     The basis for couponing is having the right coupons during the best sales. In order to accomplish this, it is critical to stay on top of buying Sunday newspapers and printing online coupons. For me, it is a minor investment for the $1.75 newspaper each week as I usually cover that cost in my savings. In addition to the weekly paper, check websites such as RedPlum, Coupons.com, and Target to print online manufacturer and store coupons. Be sure to print two copies of each which is the limit per IP address. 
    Maximize deals by getting some friends together and have a coupon swap or start one at your local library. Inevitably, you will have a lot more coupons that expire before being used. That's alright! There are many organizations that allow couponers to send their expired coupons to army bases where they are valid up to six months from their expiration date. 
     A new app called Ibotta is another place where you can earn cash back from buying products even after you use store and manufacturer's coupons. Savings are deposited directly into your paypal account.  
     
Three, Not keeping a tab on your inventory. Letting things spoil, expire, accumulate without being used.
     Sin number 3 speaks very closely to Sin number 1. We've recently started to meal plan as an additional layer to our couponing and savings. The main reason is to use what we purchase in efforts to reduce food and financial waste. Mr. Collier is very good at organizing our inventory spaces so that within a few glances, we can quickly assess our deficiencies before a trip to a store. We also have a list on the fridge to jot down items when they run out. Keep tabs on stuff and stay organized! 
     
Four,  Paying more than $1 for toothpaste, toothbrushes, dental floss, condiments, per roll of paper towels or toilet paper, pasta, frozen vegetables.
     It takes a bit of adjustment at the beginning of couponing to become familiar with the price trends on your favorite items. In those times, I jumped too quickly to purchase items when the deal wasn't right. As a good rule of thumb, don't spend more than $1 on toothpaste, manual toothbrushes, dental floss, condiments, pasta or frozen vegetables. The same goes for individual rolls of toilet paper and paper towels. If you save on nothing else then shoot for couponing exclusively for these items.       
    After we came home from Christmas, Mr. Collier didn't have a toothbrush at home and we had no backups. So I got up early and ran to Walgreens to pick one up. Can you believe that a toothbrush is about $4!!! I couldn't believe it! Especially when I normally pay around $1. I totally felt ripped off but he had to have it. Don't waste your cash, be smart and watch the deals!

Five, Not putting your savings to good use.
     Couponing takes time. What is the point of taking the time to prepare, make lists, collect and cut coupons if you don't put all of the savings to good use? First consider your budget. In our home, we have $300 allocated each month for groceries. Start there and track your savings. Then put aside the difference each month into a separate savings account or jar for a rainy day fund. You'll be shocked to see how those savings grow into a pretty sweet nest egg. You can use it for a vacation, an extra evening out or save it over a prolonged period for an even bigger splurge! 

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