Welcome to Coupon Boot Camp!
Don't worry, my motto for this Boot Camp will not be "No Pain, No Gain." My dad dreamed of me going to the prestigious Air Force Academy after I graduated high school. I crushed his dreams when I told him I just didn't think the military was for me. I don't like people yelling at me, and I don't like to make my bed every day. (Sorry, Dad. Thanks for loving me anyway.)
But a Coupon Boot Camp? That's a little more my speed. Let's get started!
For our first Boot Camp segment, we're going to tackle a simple yet vital topic: How to accumulate a good coupon stash.
Before you can start taking advantage of the great deals couponing has to offer, you must accumulate a good-sized stash of coupons. Free and very cheap household goods and groceries will be passing you by if you don't have the coupons you need to take advantage of the deals.
But what if you're starting from square one: you have no coupons, or only a few? Where can you find the best coupons to add to your stash?
• Subscribe to the Sunday newspaper. The best place to get coupons is from the inserts in your city's Sunday newspaper. If you're able to, make friends with your carrier and let him or her know that you would love any extra inserts he/she is ever able to give you.
• Hit up family and friends. Let all your family and friends know that you are a couponer, and that you would love any coupons they don't use or need. Many people put their coupon inserts straight into the garbage or the recycle bin without even thinking of it. Their trash is your cash! Ask them to save their inserts for you.
• Watch your mailbox. Product samples, magazines, advertisements and other pieces of mail often include product coupons. Clip these and add them immediately to your stash. These home-mailer coupons are often high-value coupons that allow you to snag great deals.
• Check product packaging. Look on product packaging and inside boxes of items you have already purchased. Get in a habit if immediately putting these coupons with the rest of your coupon stash so they are there when you need them.
• Make it a family affair. Make sure your spouse and your children know that coupons are never trash in your house. Show your family members where you keep your coupons so they can add to your stash when they find coupons on product packaging or in the mail.
• Ask at fast food restaurants. Many fast food restaurants who serve Sunday breakfast offer free newspapers for their patrons to read while they eat. Usually around lunch time on Sundays, those papers go straight into the trash. I have occasionally swung by McDonalds after church on Sundays to ask them for their newspaper inserts, and they always gladly give them to me.
• Take up dumpster diving. No, really, I'm serious. This may be a little hard-core for some of you, but I have done it before. There is a recycling station close to my house that has huge bins designated only for newspapers and inserts. On a couple of occasions, the bin was so full that I was able to grab many inserts right off the top of the pile. It was a great score for coupons, but I washed my hands for approximately 23 minutes afterwards. Yuck.
• Print them at home. This is just one of the many ways that the Internet has made couponing a gold mine. Many manufacturers offer high-value coupons that you can print online. www.coupons.com is a great place to start. If you see or hear about a high-value coupon online, print it right away, especially if it's on a product you know your family will need. These sites limit the total number of coupons that can be printed, and the good ones go fast.
• Join VocalPoint. Now. They send you awesome coupons (like try-me-free product coupons) and product samples in the mail, and it's free to sign up.
Start implementing these coupon-gathering strategies, and you'll be well on your way to a world-class coupon stash. And if you're wondering how in the world you're going to organize all of these coupons you're gathering, never fear! We'll have a Coupon Boot Camp segment dedicated to the topic of getting organized tomorrow.