Expert Coupon Tips to Help You Save Money Before a Move
If you've seen shows like Extreme Couponing or read about fantastic deals “couponers” get, you may be skeptical. Do you really need 20 tubes of toothpaste, or 10 packages of hemorrhoid cream ... even if they're free?
Jenn Greenleaf, bestselling author, blogger, and extreme couponer, recently released Couponing for the Everyday Consumer. This short book could be considered the couponer’s guide “for the rest of us.” Offering practical tips and pages full of resources, including websites to find deals, the book makes couponing easy to understand and is also completely honest about the time investment vs. the money saved on things you really need. (For instance, who wouldn't want two cases of toilet paper for free?)
Jenn was kind enough to share some of her secrets with us. When you're done reading this exclusive interview, start your couponing journey right here at My Move, where you'll find savings on everything you'll need before, during and after a move.
You mentioned that you stocked up on household needs and food staples before your move. Most moving pros say you should eat your pantry down to the bare minimum to reduce moving costs. Why was stocking up the right financial choice for your family?
Jenn: Stocking was the best financial choice for our family because, after we move, we're going to be spending a LOT of time unpacking and doing renovations. If all the food and household essentials are already there, it's one less thing to have to worry about spending money on.
Plus, I don't like missing out on deals for free items. Most of my stockpile was purchased for pennies on the dollar. I know I won't have the time to invest in couponing immediately following the move, so I need to make sure we have what we need when we get there.
For someone doing that "first big shopping" following a move -- assuming they haven't stocked up prior—what would be their couponing and shopping strategy?
I think their strategy should begin with a meal plan. That way, their initial focus is on their immediate food needs. They can cross reference their list to the ad at their local store to see what is on sale, and then they can cross reference that to coupons available online and coupons in their Sunday paper, which are shown at SundayCouponPreview.com.
You mention, in your book, spending about 10 hours per week between menu planning and couponing. How is this efficient? How much money do you really save?
Before I started couponing, I spent $180.00 per week on groceries and I didn't menu plan. Since I started allotting 10 hours per week toward these two goals, I spent $75.00 per week as of the writing of that book. Since then, I've been able to chip it down to $50.00 per week. However, I'm taking home $150-200.00 of groceries per week. See what I mean? I'm still taking home the same amount of groceries, sometimes more, for a fraction of the cost.
For someone who wants to get started saving money with coupons, what are the top three things they should know?
1. Don't expect to see savings like those featured on Extreme Couponing on TLC; those are not “typical” shops. While I have brought home 12 bottles of laundry detergent home for free in the past couple of weeks, that doesn't happen regularly.
2. Keep yourself organized or you will miss deals and get flustered. I keep my lists for all the stores I visit on one sheet of paper and I used a three-pocket page insert to keep my coupons separated in for each store. You will find your own system of organization through trial and error (that's what I did) but, ultimately, organization is a must.
3: Follow blogs and couponing groups (there are dozens on Facebook that are regional and nationwide) to make sure you are not missing out on deals and printables. For example, I found out about free Era detergent at Family Dollar through a Facebook group called Coupon Gossip. I didn't see it on any blogs, so I would have missed that deal.
When, how and why did you first get started couponing?
I started couponing when I was 17 and living in my first apartment. I was only making $3.10 per hour as a waitress. I had many roommates, but the cost of living outweighed my income. So, I started couponing. It was a regular part of my life for 21 years, but I didn't start "extreme" couponing until last year.
Did you turn to any specific resources for help when you started?
When I first started, my mother and my best friend helped me. My mother was an avid couponer and my best friend worked at the local grocery store. Between my mother teaching me the ropes and my best friend cluing me in on all the deals, I was all set. When I started "extreme" couponing last year, I used thekrazycouponlady.com as my primary resource for learning the ropes and getting organized.
What is the BEST deal you've ever gotten?
The best deal I've ever gotten is two cases of toilet paper for free from Amazon—including free shipping. I danced around when UPS made those deliveries!
Any other you'd like to add to those interested in couponing?
My best advice for someone starting out is to start small. That way, you have an understanding of what your store's coupon policy is and what deals you can get without feeling overwhelmed at the register. There are dozens of ways to save using rewards cards, coupons, rain checks and rebates. All of that can be overwhelming if you take on too much at once. So, start small and slowly work your way up to extreme savings!
More Coupon Resources
Now that you've read Jenn's advice, get your couponing started at sites like coupons.com, save.com, smartsource.com, couponnetwork.com, and savingstar.com. Share your own couponing tips in the comments.
Image Credit: iStockphoto/Thinkstock