Saturday, May 7, 2011

Extreme Couponers Grew Their Stockpiles Slowly Too

Couponing seems to have become a phenomenon as of late. I suppose we have Extreme Couponing on TLC to thank for that. The realization is that coupons have been in existence since at least 1894. It was Asa Candler, the co-owner of Coca-Cola who seems to be credited for handing out the first coupon. His was a coupon for a free coke. The effort to market his new soft drink seemed to pay off too, considering that with in a 10 year period, Coca-Cola was available for purchase in every state in the country. It took a total of 20 years, but apparently one in nine Americans eventually received their free Coca-Cola soft drink. (Boy, he doesn't know he missed by not having a Facebook page!)

In 1895, C. W. Post issued a 1 CENT coupon to market his new cereal: Grape Nuts.

In the 1930's, because our economy was struggling, clipping coupons became a necessity for struggling families.

By 1965, half of all American households were clipping coupons.

Thanks to the internet, printable coupons became an option for coupon clippers. It also helped retailers to go "global" and offer coupon codes to boost their sales.

As you can see, coupons really have been around for a long time.

And just as the coupon came to be, so must your couponing skills. Slowly, with a well thought out process.

It can be frustrating, I know, to see the stockpile pictures of others. Reading about the "scores" and seeing the pictures of glorious stockpiles that seasoned-vets of couponing have amassed can be both uplifting and confusing at the same time.
Uplifting because you suddenly realize that it really can be accomplished.
Confusing because you don't seem to have the great coupons those people have.

It is said that it takes at least 30 days to learn a new habit. I recommend taking those 30 days to ramp up your organization skills, to collect your coupons, and to come to terms with your current shopping habits. Once you have done so, you can become readily prepared to shop differently and successfully. Those amassed stockpiles are the result of work, determination, and changes to old habits.

One of the biggest concerns I hear from new couponers is that the coupons they received in this past Sunday's paper don't match up with the current sale ads. For the most part, new couponers are right, they don't. There's a reason for that.

Coupons are a marketing tool. They are placed in the paper because manufacturer's hope that you will do one thing: Run to the store and grab their item. This becomes a source of confusion for couponers starting out because they simply don't know if they are getting the best deal with that coupon. Many times I hear : "The coupon came out, I went to the store and bought the item. Two weeks later, the item went on sale and I could have saved more money."
Yes, you could have. Yes, it frustrates me too.

This is where 30 days to learn a new habit, really resonates. Products typically go on sale in cycles. Coupons come out almost every Sunday. If you run out and spend those coupons right away, you will typically spend more than you have to on an item. But if you wait, and do some research, you will likely find a sale within a couple weeks that makes that coupon a huge savings. It's been proven again and again. Just look at those stockpile pictures of the coupon vets.

New couponers express confusion, as well. While looking at a veteran couponer's stockpile pictures, they see a mini-grocery store. When they look at what they are buying they see a shelf of feminine pads, baby diapers, hairspray and ketchup. (Or what ever they were able to get a great deal on.) Discouragement sets in because those items don't relate to each other. They, often, are not sure why it's important to buy 10 ketchups with a coupon. They see those 10 ketchups on their cupboard shelf but don't understand their importance. It speaks back to the sale cycles that occur with products.

When you start a stockpile, you have to remember that it will eventually make sense. Those ketchup bottles will soon be standing next to 3 months of soups and a month or so of cereals.

I heard it best described by Big-D's daddy when he said:

" It's as if you are eating peanut butter and jelly for dinner, and you have 20 ketchup bottles on the shelf and not much else. But in about 3 weeks, your cupboards are full, and your eating steak for dinner."

It doesn't necessarily happen that quickly, but it IS like that.

Now, this does not mean that you should buy your stockpile items first and then worry about your weekly meal plan. Quite the contrary. Again, starting small can not be stressed enough. Buy what you NEED first, then use coupons to gather the items that you will stockpile. Do so when you can afford to add to the stockpile. This is why couponer's grow their stockpiles in several months rather than right away.

To the new couponer that lacks patience, I say, "put your toe in the water to see how you like it first".
One way to learn a new habit is to try your hand at your new habit. Instead of buying 10 newspapers and cutting all of the coupons, why not research the deals that are going on this, and next week. Many couponing message board, and blogs, post their deal finds in advance of the sales. This gives couponers the notice they need to start collecting their coupons. What you need to do is identify a deal or two that you find enticing, and then organize yourself for the score. If you don't readily have the coupons for that deal, check out an eBay auction, or order through a coupon clipping service. These are two great ways, and rather quick ways as well, to get the coupons you need for the score. When they arrive, double check your sale dates, and go get your deal.

By starting small, you run less of a risk of making a mistake (and we ALL make them, new and vet couponers alike). Mistakes cause discouragement, and discouragement begets loss of interest which leads to quitting. You, and your pocketbook don't want that. You also get a taste of what couponing is like. Nothing beats a great coupon score at the store. So, start small, and celebrate the little accomplishments.
After all, vet couponers will tell you that it took months of preparation, planning and smart shopping with their coupons to amass the stockpiles they have today.

So now you know a little bit of history about coupons. I know I feel impressive when I tell the coca-cola story. *smile* You also know, now, why the coupons you just got last Sunday need to be held in reserve for a bit rather than clipped and immediately spent at the store.

We encourage you to:
  • Take your 30 days, and learn your new habit. 
  • Use the internet at your disposal to seek out and find coupon match-ups (which, by the way, we are hoping to incorporate on our blog a bit more). 
  • Check out eBay, and look for Buy-It-Now auctions for those coupons you need. A Buy-It-Now auction saves you time, because you don't have to wait for an auction to end, and you don't have to compete with other bidders. 
  • If eBay isn't your thing, seek out a coupon clipping service. Place an order with them to score the coupons you need. 
Don't get frustrated, and always feel free to ask question, I'm here to help!
Until next time:

Credit: The History of Coupons, Thanks