I have been couponing for one year now and I thought I would share some of the lessons I learned over the last year. These are the questions I had when I first started couponing. I hope these help out a few people. I know I had a lot of questions and was often too shy to ask.
1.) There will always be another sale - For the first several months I thought I HAD to hit EVERY sale. Three months ago life threw me a curve and I did not have the time to shop like I used to. I soon realized it was ok to miss a sale, another one was just a week away.
2.) Couponing can become addicting - The high I would get from a great deal was like nothing else. I would walk out of store so proud of myself I would be beaming. Then, when I couldn't hit every sale I literally had panic attacks. I was jonesing for a shopping fix. I soon learned that my family was not starving to death and the world did not stop spinning. The panic attacks went away.
3.) When does stockpiling become hording? - Of coarse, the answer to this question is different for everyone. I began to feel I had a problem when my shelves were so stocked there wasn't room for all my new purchases (this was after I had already purchased 3 new shelving units). When my 20 boxes of Kraft Mac & Cheese crackers were one month from expiring and I knew there was no way my family would eat them all. I knew it was time to reign myself in. I took a realistic look at what my family would eat and what I could afford to donate and changed my buying habits. Now instead of buying twenty boxes I only buy ten. I donate 5 and keep 5. Let's face after a while the kids get tired of the same brand of crackers.
4.) Check your expiration dates - This kind of ties into the previous. When purchasing I always check dates. If it something that doesn't expire for two years I will purchase more of that product than I may normally. It is also very important to keep an eye on your stock pile. I go through my stockpile every two months. If a product is going to expire in the next two months I figure how much I actually need and donate what we won't use. Once it is expired the food banks won't take it.
5.) Coupons are seasonal - Purchase those canned veggies and soups in the winter because you won't see a coupon for them in the summer. The same goes for caprisuns, baked beans and some condiments in the summer. I am sure others whom have been couponing longer than I have can give you a better list. I wish I would have realized this. My canned northern beans did not last the summer.
6.) The best coupons come out when the product is new The best example I can give is for the Purex 3 in 1 sheets. The product hit the stores and a high dollar(I think it was $3.00 off) coupon came out. I was able to get 8 packs for less than a dollar each at a bogo sale. Since then the best coupon out there is for $1.00 off. These are kind of pricey and to me a $1.00 q just isn't enough to make it a good deal.
Keep in mind I am a pretty normal person with slight addictive personality. I have never been a "keeper" I am the first one to donate or throw something away but I have to admit couponing had taken control. Remember this is suppose to be something that is fun and a way to save money not an obsession. I am not accusing others of being obsessed I am just saying I became obsessive.
Enjoy and Happy Couponing!!!