Couponing can be a lot of work and confusing if you don’t give yourself certain guidelines to start with.

Here are a few tips to help get you started:

  • Buy no more than two papers for now. Even though coupons vary in each insert, you will only use about 20 percent of the coupons in them when you are starting out. Cut out what you need. As you build up your comfort level, you will use more coupons and then you can buy more papers. This also applies when you print coupons from coupons.com and other printable coupon sites. Only print what you know you will definitely use. You don’t want to waste paper and ink. Invest in a wallet-size accordion style booklet or use Ziploc bags. Creating a binder should be the furthest project on your mind. They are very time consuming and it is not recommended for beginners — an investment that should be left to the seasoned couponer. For me, keeping my inserts whole and keeping them in an accordian style folder, separating them by dates and using CouponsInTheNews or CouponTom database will located specific coupons in the dated inserts. 
  • Join local coupon Facebook groups as well as store focused stores such as CVS (IheartCVS), Walgreens (Wild for Wags) and H-E-B (H-E-B Deals and Matchups). These will offer a lot of information such as the latest sales, breakdowns of purchases and tons of feedback from other like-minded savers.
  • Join a coupon swap in your area. This is a great way to meet other people, share tips and ideas and trade unwanted coupons for coupons that you need. You can have a coupon partner when shopping. Some of my dearest friends were met this way. I highly recommend it. Go to as many coupon classes as possible. Everyone saves money differently. Coupon organization, shopping behaviors and buying expectations will offer a variety of insight to help you decide what works best for you. Get to know the people that do these various ways of couponing. It’s a great learning process and keep your mind open for suggestions. I do caution that there are "teachers" that teach bad couponing habits so if you find that they are spending more time telling you why you can do this and that, be cautious!
  • Stick to two or three stores to do all the shopping. I recommend one grocery store (H-E-B or Walmart) and one drugstore, such as Walgreens or CVS. This gives you a chance to familiarize yourself with the coupon policies, rewards programs and how the stores are mapped out so you know where everything is.
  • H-E-B is probably the best store to start couponing, especially when you don’t have any coupons. H-E-B has the new phone app that provides digital coupons that you select right from your phone. No clipping or physical coupons to worry about.You can go the the H-E-B website for a tutorial on how the app works on your phone.
  • Don’t set high expectations and don’t compare yourself to others. This will sabotage your efforts. It takes time to master the art of savings. Some people dedicate more time therefore they learn faster. Go at your own pace. With patience and perseverance, saving money is achievable. You will make mistakes along the way and that is OK. Focus on what you can do right and learn from your mistakes.
  • Don't go crazy over quantities! We all love to stock up but you have to remember that anything liquid goes bad and loses its effectiveness usually within 6-8 months. Guess what? You'll end up throwing away those rancid products. You just lost money there. You want to buy up to 3 months worth of supplies. For paper products, up to a year. For each person in your house, you should buy a bottle for each month so three bottles for you for 3 months. If you have a total of 2 people in your house, you want to buy two bottles for each month so 6 bottles. If you end up getting 8 bottles, that's okay. 
  • Mark dates on your liquids. This will help you rotate your stock so you'll use your oldest products first.

Killeen Daily Herald ($1 Sundays/50 cents Wednesdays) and the Fort Hood Herald (free) offer about $200 worth of coupons every week. Inserts vary each week.

To see what inserts and coupons will be in the newspapers, sign up for emails from www.sundaycouponpreview.com to get advance listings.

Jennise "Savealotmom" Colin-Ventura | 254-501-7515 | jennise@kdhnews.com | facebook.com/savealotmom | instagram @jensavealotmom

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