Friday Couponing Tips – Effective Couponing Habits

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Effective Couponing Habits

Couponing Tips Tuesday - 7 Effective Couponing Habits

I’m sure most of you have heard of the classic by Steven Covey, “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People?” Well today I’ve put together my own version, but of course this is “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective COUPONERS.” Over the past 4-5 years I’ve been couponing, I’ve learned a thing or two that have helped me to be successful and today I share these gems with you. Start implementing these couponing habits and soon you will be able to call yourself an Effective Couponer too!

Couponing Habits 1 – Be a Good Steward with Your Time

I put this one first because I really think it’s the most important. New couponers especially, spend hours and hours hunting down the deals, finding the available coupons, running to the store for every deal they see & end up spending a lot of their valuable TIME doing all this. I’ve been there. I get it, but let me tell you from experience, it will come back to bite you if you’re not careful.

7 Habits TimerA simple way to check on how much time you’re spending is to keep track. Start timing yourself the minute you start hunting down the deals. Track how much time it took to find, clip or print the coupons, put together your list, the amount of time it takes to drive to the store, shop and drive back home. If you work, what do you make an hour? Did you save that amount in the same amount of time it took you to coupon? If not, you may be spending too much time at this.

If you’re new, it will take some extra time until you get into the swing. You can make allowances for that. If you’ve been doing this for a while though and it still takes you hours upon hours, you may have to re-think how advantageous this is to you. I know that’s counterintuitive, being a couponing blog and all, but I don’t want you wasting your precious time on something that really isn’t saving you in the long run. If the time you’re spending doing this is taking too much time away from your paid work, your spouse or your children, re-think what you’re doing. Just something to ponder and why I put this as the most important of the couponing habits. Better you figure this out now than when it’s too late.

Habit 2 – Be Open-Minded

A lot of people are brand loyal to certain products. I am myself. I only like Colgate Toothpaste, Scott’s Extra Soft Bath Tissue, Hunt’s Ketchup, Hellmann’s Mayonnaise, Coffee-Mate Creamer and Purina ONE dry cat food for my cats. For everything else, I’m open-minded. Meaning, I like Arnold’s bread, but if a sale & coupon coincide for Pepperidge Farm, I’ll buy it. I like Land O Lakes butter best, but if I need butter and there’s a store brand on sale, I’ll buy that.

When you’re too brand loyal, you miss out on a lot of couponing opportunities. Being willing to try other products also lets you experience new items you never would have tried otherwise. For example, I always bought John Frieda shampoo & conditioner. I poo-pooed other brands. One week I was able to get free L’Oreal Advanced. Love the stuff and it’s cheaper too! If I wasn’t a couponer, I probably never would have tried it. So branch out. Be loyal to the things you must, but be open-minded to the rest of it.

Habit 3 – Be Inquisitive

Couponing Tips Tuesday - 7 Effective Couponing Habits question picI’ve been doing this for 4 to 5 years as mentioned above, but I’m still always learning. If I don’t understand something, I ask other couponers, I Google it, I get out my handy dandy coupon policies and try to decipher things. If I need to, I’ll call a corporate store or manufacturer number and ask.

You have the best resource in the world at your fingertips; our Red Hot Coupons Facebook group. Our group is full of both experienced couponers and novices. If you have a question about something, just ask. I know I post a lot of deals and matchups and things, but I LOVE to teach. I love to help you learn. Sometimes with your questions I learn things too. We’re all here to help each other. Be inquisitive. Ask, research, ask again!

Couponing Habits 4 – Be Organized

Ugh! I know, but being organized really does help. Being organized isn’t just one of the good couponing habits. It’s a good habit to be in all around. I like to organize and I label & spreadsheet everything. You don’t have to be that anal though. Just put together a “process” that works for you and stick to it. For example, if you get your inserts on Sunday, set aside a day every week to file or clip all your coupons. If you print a lot, gather them until one certain day, maybe the same day you do your inserts, where you cut them out, then file them. When you spot a deal online, bookmark the page and put them all in one specific place. Or have a notebook or something where you jot all your deals down. When you’re ready to shop, grab all the deals at once, then all the coupons and make your list. Maybe have one specific day you shop if that works for you.

Whatever you do, stick to a schedule so you don’t get behind or have too much to do at once. I’ve been there too. In fact I still get behind some weeks when I don’t stick to that schedule. There’s nothing worse than knowing you have a coupon and not being able to find it. Weeding through stacks & stacks of inserts or printables is not fun, nor is it a good use of your time. Be as organized as you can be and you’ll find that the couponing process goes much smoother.

Habit 5 – Be Vigilant

Coupons pop up in the most unusual locations. Don’t believe me? Start looking for coupons everywhere you go. You’ll find them. At church, the dentist’s office, your auto mechanic, on the ground. Don’t laugh. I’ve actually spotted coupons on the ground that I’ve picked up. Looking around the parking lot at Walgreens is my favorite place. People throw those Register Reward coupons on the ground ALL the time. Unlike CVS Extra Care Bucks that are attached to your card, Register Rewards can be used by anyone. Other people’s ignorance (and lack of respect for the environment) is my gain.

Do you have free newspapers thrown on your driveway? A lot of times those contain coupons. Ask your neighbors if you can have theirs too. Most people just throw them away. Once you start looking around, you’ll be amazed at all the places coupons pop up!

Habit 6 – Be Courteous

We’ve all had “the look.” If you’re new to couponing, you’ll have the look sooner or later. Most of the time it’s impatient people at the register glaring at you or worse, making comments. Let’s face it. It does take some extra time for the cashier. Another reason to be organized, even at the register. Sometimes though “the look” is deserved. Are you being as courteous to the cashier and/or other shoppers as you could be?

Do you warn someone in back of you with only an item or two that you have coupons? Or better yet, do you let them go ahead? If you’re doing separate transactions, do you take each one to the back of the line? When you get to the register, are all your coupons in order? Facing the right way? When your cashier seems flustered, are you patient with him or her? Do you keep your cool when they try to tell you that you can’t use a coupon for whatever reason? If the line is backing up, I just say OK and take the item & coupon up to customer service to be sorted out. A lot of the time it just is impatient people, or as we like to say in the couponing world, “People who don’t like to save money,” but sometimes it could be all on you. Always look for ways to be courteous to others and you’ll know you’re doing all you can to give couponers a good name.

Couponing Habits 7 – Be Honest and Ethical

Couponing Tips Tuesday - 7 Effective Couponing Habits pinoccio picAlong with being courteous, we must be as honest and as ethical as we can be too. We all make mistakes. Using a coupon on a wrong product you thought was right is a mistake. Using a coupon on a wrong product on purpose is unethical. It’s also fraudulent. Get caught and you could be in for big trouble. Buying 4 of something and using 4 coupons when the coupon clearly says 1 Per Customer or 2 Like Coupons on it is unethical. Even if the cashier or manager “let you do it,” it’s our responsibility to follow the rules on the coupon. When the manufacturer asks for cash register tapes, and they do, and see 4 coupons were used and only reimburse the store for 2 of them, who do you think is going to get the bad rap? Couponers, that’s who! I guarantee the cashier isn’t going to remember “letting you do it.”

Along with following the coupon terms, we should keep other couponers in mind. Not just other couponers either, but other shoppers in general. Do you clear the shelves of all of one product on sale? Do you hog all the blinkie or tearpad coupons? Do you grab stacks of coupon booklets when you find them rather than just a couple? When a PDF coupon pops up, do you print hundreds of them? I stick to the general rule, two per computer. Theoretically you could print a lot more, but is that ethical? We all have to follow our own moral compass, but just remember, unethical behavior effects more than just you.

Friday Wrap-Up

I’m sure I could go on and on with ways to be an effective couponer, but these couponing habits are the ones I feel are the most important and will help get you started on your journey to being the most efficient couponer you can be. Next week we’ll discuss all the various ways of getting your coupons. Other than on the ground (lol!) We’ll talk about what insert and clipping services are, how to get coupons directly from the manufacture and more. Your homework assignment for this week is just to start practicing the above habits.

That’s it for today. If you have any questions at all, leave them in the comments section or come visit one of our Facebook groups or our Facebook pages (see below) & ask there. We’ll see you next Friday for the next installment of my Couponing Tips for the beginning couponer.

Until next time, Shop Happy!

In case you missed one, here are the previous weeks of Friday Couponing Tips:
Week 1 – Where Do I Start?
Week 2 – Where to Keep Your Coupons
Week 3 – How to Use Our Store Matchups
Week 4 – How to Put Together a Deal
Week 5 – The Art of the Stockpile

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New to the Coupon-Wizards?

Are you new to The Coupon Wizards? I’m a one woman blog, but I work tirelessly, day in and day out, to find you the best deals. Both couponing deals and online bargains! This isn’t Extreme Couponing, it’s Effective Couponing! There is a method to my madness as well. Not only do I find sales & deals for you, but in doing so, I find sales & deals for me too. It’s a win win 😉 Plus I’m able to teach others to do this at the same time, which I love!

I started following The Coupon Wizards after doing some research on the subject, with a little prodding from a friend, and coming across them on Facebook. I was hooked immediately & started to learn quickly. Mostly out of necessity, but also because I loved everything about it. The organization, the researching, the putting together of deals, but most of all, the savings! I was saving my family money to pay those bills & be able to eat all at the same time. This blog was a life saver; literally! In no time at all, I was a blogger myself on the site. My husband has since found a job, but this is now mine and I love, love, love it and hope you will to. Let me know what you think in the comments.

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