Need coupons? Join the club
Get together with like-minded savers and trade the Qs you can't use. Here's how to start your own clipping co-op.
Fellow frugalists don't tease them about their clipping habits, the way family and friends do. Other club members don't sigh and roll their eyes the way some cashiers do upon glimpsing a coupon folder.
"It's a supportive place to be frugal," says founding member Rochelle H., who lives in the San Diego area.
Starting your own clipping cooperative can save you money in two ways:
- Extra coupons mean extra savings at checkout.
- You can get those extra Qs without buying more copies of the Sunday paper.
How your group operates is up to you. The E.C. Couponistas club has 30 members and a (private) Facebook page, but a casual meet-up of two or three friends with scissors could work just as well.
Or how about colleagues? In an article called "Starting a small coupon exchange club," About.com writer Donna L. Montaldo suggests that small groups could be formed at the workplace (at lunch or during breaks, of course), child-care centers, places of worship, health clubs, neighborhood organizations, theater groups or senior centers.
Montaldo suggests keeping a list/notebook of different members' needs (baby products? makeup? cat litter?) and any brand preferences. Since coupons aren't only for groceries, save a page for special events; for example, a club member planning a bridal shower might ask for crafts-store discounts.
'A little validation'
The E.C. Couponistas make those requests on the Facebook page. Their group is organized to the point of having written bylaws, to weed out people who ask for lots of coupons but don't reciprocate. Or like the guy who joined and then tried to sell coupon inserts to other members. (Selling coupons is against the law.)
A less formal approach works, too. Tiffany Ivanovsky, who blogs at MyLitter.com, sometimes invites students to show up early at her coupon seminars and trade Qs. Most people take only a few at a time; once everyone has had a crack at each category, Ivanovsky invites them to go back for seconds.
Coupons aren't the only things that get shared, according to the Houston-based blogger. Talking with other coupon users provides "a little validation," and a chance to meet with like-minded savers.
"You can build yourself a community," Ivanovsky says.
No matter what kind of club you craft, keep these tips in mind:
- Meet in public places at first (and maybe forever).
- Choose family-friendly spots. "Most people doing this are moms with kids," says Josie K. of the SouthernCaliSaver blog.
- If you clip at the site, clean up after yourself.
- Don't be the person who takes a handful of coupons at each meeting but rarely contributes. Nobody likes that person.
Two special events
In honor of National Coupon Month, Savings.com and Valpak.com are sponsoring a pair of coupon-related programs in the coming week.
Twitter party: On Thursday, connect with other coupon fans by following hashtag #SavingsNation on Twitter. The party starts at 9 p.m. EDT. Three prizes will be awarded, one of them "major," according to a Savings.com spokeswoman.
Synchronized grocery coupon classes: On Monday, Sept. 24, members of Savings.com's "DealPro" community will teach coupon skills in 21 cities in 16 states. To find a class near you, click here.
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Donna Freedman's Frugal Nation blog is for readers who want to live cheaply -- whether due to necessity or a lifestyle choice. It explores living sustainably and making life more meaningful at the same time.
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Donna Freedman, a writer based in Anchorage, Alaska, writes the Frugal Nation blog for MSN Money. She won regional and national prizes during an 18-year newspaper career and earned a college degree in midlife without taking out student loans. Donna also writes about the frugal life for her own site, Surviving and Thriving.
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