Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Coupon Train

Choo! Choo!  I'm on board a pretty cool train that I had never heard of a mere 4 months ago.  A group of my fellow March 2010 moms decided that we wanted to save money and start sharing coupons, but not quite to the extent of shows like Extreme Couponing found on TLC.  To be honest, watching that show kind of scares me...the people seem nice, but it's almost like they are hoarders in disguise.  I mean, who needs 64 bottles of Soft Soap or 100 cases of Power Ade even if it is all only for $20?!  I can think of at least a dozen other things I'd much rather spend $20 on...ah-hem, pedicure!
One of the moms in my group had "ridden" on something called a coupon train in the past through the (fabulous) website called A Full Cup and said it worked out well.  So, we asked for interested riders among our group of moms (since charing addresses would be required) and started our own coupon train.  The first train ride was just 6 weeks long with 6 riders and was a big success.  Several of the moms really got into clipping coupons from circulars and printing them from on-line from various websites.  We decided to test run a second train ride and invited more moms to join in.  Our second train ride just ended with a 9 week long cycle and nine riders.  We just started our third train ride and now have a whopping 16 riders and it will last for 15 weeks!!  Most of us don't spend a lot of time couponing, but it can be a time guzzler if you're serious about it.  Several of the moms have spreadsheets that keep track of their spending and savings and what the price of a good is at the particular stores they shop at regularly.  By doing this, they can hunt for super sales and end up buying the products they use regularly for next to nothing by combining a store sale with coupons from the coupon train.  Considering a lot of the moms stay at home and need to balance a super tight budget, this coupon train is a huge help for only the cost of one envelope and one stamp per week.
The coupon train can have as many riders as you want, but works well with at least a half dozen or so to get a good variety of coupons in circulation.  Each week you cut out coupons that you aren't going to use and look for coupons that you know the other train riders need and send them out in an envelope.  Around 30-40 coupons can be sent with one postage stamp depending on the paper they are printed on (cardboard coupons are heavier and could weigh an envelope down).  On a typical week, I take the envelope I recieved from the prior week, go through the coupons and pull out what I need, then throw out those coupons expiring that week, and then add the coupons I've clipped from the Sunday paper or printed from on-line and add them in, address the envelope, and then mail along to the next train rider.  The total time I spend on it varies, but usually it's no more than an hour. If I go on-line in search of more coupons it can take a bit longer.

I organize the coupons I get into envelopes right now in my purse. I have three envelopes (household items & baby, food & restaurants, and cleaning supplies) and each time I make a shopping trip I check my coupons and use what I can.  If a product I buy every so often (think shampoo, deoderant, razors, toothpaste, cleaning supplies) is on sale and I have a coupon, I usually buy it in advance to save extra.  It's a bonus if I am able to double the coupon on top of the sale!  I haven't yet started to track my savings, but I think by the end of this coupon train cycle I might be ready to or at least curious to see what my actual savings are in dollars.  If you are interested in couponing check out http://www.afullcup.com/ and if you'd like to inquire about joining our coupon train feel free to leave a comment and I can add you to the next round!


Mary said...

We need to start this on our board!

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