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After teaching thousands of people how to coupon, I can say first hand that the NUMBER ONE reason I see people FAIL is by treating couponing like a RACE instead of like a JOURNEY.
Mistakes New Couponers Make That Leads to Failure (And how to avoid them) This is long, but trust me.. It’s worth reading the whole thing. Let me know your opinions in the comments!
1. Trying to get EVERY deal that is posted
– 99% of deals come back around ALL the time. Trying to chase EVERY deal is the quickest way to BURN OUT. Start with a couple deals every week for items your family uses and work up to getting more deals. Couponing is HARD work plus you don’t want to end up with stuff you will NEVER use (unless you plan on donating the item). You must have self-control. The purpose of couponing is to save money, but if you end up trying to take advantage of every deal — whether it’s a good deal or not — are you really saving money? Nope.
2. Trying to Coupon at ALL the stores right away. Anyone can copy a deal they see and get a good deal once or twice. COUPONING means LEARNING how to find those deals, understanding how they work. Trying to FULLY learn and understand the rules of more than one or two stores at once is like trying to learn a year’s worth of college material in one month. It’s going to confuse and overwhelm you. Couponing should be learned in bite size portions. Pick one or two stores to start out with. Learn their coupon policy, read the matchups each week and make a list based on the coupon you have available. When you feel like you have MASTERED those two stores, THEN add on another store and repeat the process.
3. NOT having an organizing system in place. Without SOME type of system in place, you are 98% MORE likely to get completely overwhelmed. You’re going to end up with ALOT of coupons.. You need a system in place.
4. Buying items your family WON’T use just because they were cheap. I can’t tell you how many. Even spending $5 on a REALLY INSANE deal that your family WON’T use is just is still wasting money and defeating the whole purpose.
5. Getting discouraged when your plan doesn’t go EXACTLY the way you planned – Nothing is more discouraging that an item out of stock, but take it from someone that has been doing this for over 15 years now.. This is just part of the whole couponing experience. There are roughly 3-5 AWESOME deals per store each week. You may not realize it, but there’s probably atleast 100 other couponers that shop at YOUR store.. So that’s 100 people going for the same 3-5 deals every week, and unless your store has an endless amount of stock.. The majority of them WON’T get the deal. The best way to ensure you’ll get the majority of the deals you want is by going the first day of the sale. When I make my list for the week, I make a SECOND list as well of “Back Up” deals that I can quickly substitute if I run into any stock issues with my main list.
6. Using coupons just because you have them – Don’t be in a rush to use all your coupons. Manufacture’s aren’t stupid.. They rarely release coupons the same week that they can pair up with an AMAZING deal. You’ll come to notice ALOT of the time an awesome sale will pop up, and the higher value coupon that MATCHES it will expire the day before the sale starts, or will COME OUT the day after the sale ends. This is intentional. Most of the best deals you’ll be able to get with your coupons won’t happen the first week you get them. You don’t have to use the coupon as soon as it comes out! Be patient and wait for the right sale. Learn prices on the products you use most so you can recognize a “stock up” price when you see it. If the stock up price doesn’t come around before the coupon expires… oh well… use your stockpile.
7. Settings an UNREALISTIC Savings goal – Everyone’s goal is always to save 90% or more when they first start, and while you might be able to accomplish that on a couple deals, the REAL goal should be for OVERALL savings, and should be realistic. Even if you only save 60-70% on your trips your first week, that’s STILL savings and WILL get better. Setting a realistic savings goal will keep you from getting discouraged.
8. NOT setting a couponing budget – Until you have a decent stockpile built up, it’s safe to say the majority of your purchases your first couple of months WON’T be coupon purchases. Set a budget each week for the money you want to put towards building you stockpile and STICK TO IT. Stick to cash if you can.. people are 100% more likely to overspend using a card than they are with a set cash budget. After a few weeks your stock pile will start growing, your wallet will have more money in it and THEN You’ll start REALLY noticing the difference in your budget. If you’ve ever start thinking that couponing is TOO expensive for you.. you’re not doing it right and it’s time to re-check your couponing budget.
9. Being in a RUSH to have a HUGE stockpile – Yeah, stockpiles look awesome, but the point of a stockpile ISN’T to have a crazy amount of couponed items.. the POINT is to stock those items when they are their ROCK BOTTOM price. After 15 years of doing this, I can 100% honestly say that there are MAYBE 2-3 deals every WEEK that are insane crazy STOCK UP deals.. There’s some great deals, and definitely some awesome deals.. but only a FEW each week that are truly dirt cheap enough for me to confidently grab a 6 month supply without worrying that i’m going to see it go on sale for cheaper the next week. When I see someone that’s only been doing this for a month showing off a whole room or a whole closet stockpile SO soon, the only thing I can think is.. they probably paid WAY too much for that. If it’s a great deal, get yourself the deal for NOW. If it’s an awesome deal, get yourself enough to last you a month or so. If it’s ROCK BOTTOM, dirt cheap.. THEN stock STOCK STOCK!
*NEW* 10. Relying on their brain or their phone to keep track of the deals and scenarios they’re going to get. Brains and Technology are notorious for failing.. GO OLD SCHOOL and write out your entire list as your planning it. ENTIRE.. item, size, price, coupon you’ll be using and what your final price will be. Not only does writing it out help cement it into your brain, but then you’re fully prepared for your shopping trip if your phone dies, gets left somewhere, or any other numerous things that could happen to mess up your trip.
*NEW* 11. Not knowing your total before you get to the checkout – Before you head to the grocery store, you should know exactly what your total will be before and after coupons if you did all your homework. Math is a HUGE part of couponing. There is nothing more humiliating than when your total before coupons comes to $700.00 and you end up paying $338.00, when you thought you were going to pay $100.00. This is the sound you will hear in your mind… “Womp, Womp!” Make sure you do your math before heading to the store! Having a physical list with you (See #10 Above) will help you if you need to make adjustments to it mid-trip!
*NEW* 12. Paying a total that’s DIFFERENT from what you planned – There’s MANY things that can go wrong in a scenario on BOTH ends.. From accidentally grabbing the wrong size product, to having coupons that get rejected. Sometimes new couponers get so thrown off and embarrassed by this, they just pay the total and consider the shopping trip a total failure. DO NOT BE AFRAID to ask them to take something off your order if a coupon will not scan and they won’t budge. DO NOT be afraid to politely say “I’m sorry, this didn’t work out the way I planned it and I’ll have to come back later after I figure out what went wrong.” if your total is WAY higher than you expected and you have no idea what went wrong. Being a couponer, your skin has to thicken a little bit and you need to realize the reason you started this journey was to SAVE your family money… not spend more. Mistakes like this lead to a HUGE percent of new couponers who give up because it’s “Too Expensive”. If you still really aren’t comfortable with any of this, pay the total,, throw the receipt in the bag and come back the next day and return it all. Tell them your husband already purchased the items you got so you have no need for them.. Whatever makes you feel more comfortable. Go back home, figure out what went wrong with your scenario and try again another day. NEVER feel obligated to give out MORE of your money than you have to just out of embarrassment.
*NEW* 13. Using coupons on the larger-sized items. Typically coupons are good for a certain minimum size and up. For example, a coupon may be good for Colgate toothpaste 4.0 oz. and higher. Using the .50 cent coupon on the largest size of toothpaste is not going to give you the biggest bang for your coupon. Most, if not all of the time, you will save more money by using the coupon on the SMALLEST size you can. Bonus Tip: To buy multiple smaller items, get more newspapers, have a coupon clipping club (trade coupons), and/or make sure to print each coupon off twice from each computer you have access to. Hit the back button and it will either print the coupon again automatically, or you can re-select and hit print again.
*NEW* 14. Not knowing the coupon policies of the stores you shop at. Some clerks will just tell you that a coupon is bad if it will not scan, or tell you something is not allowed when you KNOW it is. If you have their coupon policy with you or on your cell phone, you can simply show it to them and they will need to put the coupon through or call a manager. If you have a Coupon Binder, I highly recommend printing out the policies of the stores you coupon at most and store it right in your binder! Knowledge is POWER!
*NEW* 15. Failing to stock up sufficiently on an item that you use a lot. This is one of the most common mistakes couponers make. Whether it’s because they don’t want to seem like a hoarder, or they think they can’t possibly have room to store it… If it’s something you use ALOT of.. FIND ROOM! The whole point of couponing is to STOCK UP when items you use hit rock bottom so you DON’T have to pay full price. When the items you use ALOT hit their rock bottom cheapest price, don’t be afraid to make multiple trips to get more. As an example, my family goes through ALOT of Kool-Aid premixed drink canisters (With 2 kids, 2 adults and a TON of extended family over constantly, we can easily go through 2-3 canisters a week). These average around $3-$3.50 normal price in most areas. My stock up price for these are around 50¢ – and that price only happens every 3-4 months or so in my area, So when the right sale happens and they hit their rock bottom, you better believe i’m buying enough to last at least 4 months. Yes, I get around 50. It may sound excessive, but if you do the math.. Me spending $25 to buy 50 at their rock botom price and looking like a hoarder.. or spending $2.50 to grab 5 and running out in two weeks and having to pay the $3-$3.50 price for the next 3-4 months (Which would end up being anywhere from $100-$150 at normal prices) until they hit rock bottom again.
*NEW* 16. Not taking advantage of and following coupon blogs like EveryoneLovesCouponing.com. We post the best deals all day, every day, and break them down for new couponers.. We tell you the deal, where to get the coupons and how much you’ll pay. We basically do the hard work for you. Whether you’re looking for a very specific deal (Like.. the best deal on Pantene this week, or the best Laundry deal this week) or just have last minute unplanned shopping trip.. head over to the “Deal Search Engine” and just type in what you’re looking for! It will tell you exactly what all the deals are this week at all the stores – you just have to decide which deal work best for you!
Have you made any of these common mistakes in your quest to learn how to coupon?
> Get more tips and tricks in our Beginners Guide
> Use the Deal Search Engine to see which store has the BEST deals for you!
> Find the coupons you need in our Coupon Database
> Check out ALL the deals this week in our Weekly Matchups