Interview with a Couponer: Derek’s Couponing Approach and some Hard Lessons he Learned along the way
In the first part of this interview, we talked to Derek about how he got started into the world of couponing and his reasons behind it. With his collection and dedication spanning over two years, he’s learned a thing or three firsthand and has accumulated a few stories along the way. It’s a lot harder and takes a huge amount of dedication if you want to be successful in your endeavors to save money, and Derek tells us all about it.
Besides having a coupon binder, he also actively stockpiles with the limited space he has and also has plenty of little tricks to get his coupons. He views it more as a hobby than a job and something he spends his free time doing; much like any pastime activity. He scans high and low for coupons; from inside product packaging to ordering them online–a list of places you can find coupons can be found in this piece I wrote, which Derek users as a reference I’m proud to say.
Why and What Derek Stockpiles
He has a really limited space for stockpiling in his home but makes the most out of it. He has made separate shelves in his laundry room and bathroom and even has a few dedicated shelves in his kitchen. After a few months of couponing, he realized that by buying more of the same item in one sitting while on sale and with coupons and keeping it in storage, that he’s effectively saving more money in the long run. Things like toilet paper, shampoos and soaps he stores enough to last around two months, because of the sale cycles that he has memorized. Through trial and error, he’s managed to figure out how much he should stock until the next special comes along. He’s also managed to accumulate enough of items like razors and saving creams to last him for the next year.
Through this process, he’s learned that he has to spend money to save money (which is kind of the basics of economics) and, by buying items in bulk like Old spice deodorant–he managed to get a bunch at $0.16–he has put more money in his pocket in the process. When deals like that come around, you have to stockpile them for more than just a month or two, since the next deal might not happen for another six months.
How Much Derek Saves on Average
One of the greatest pleasures Derek gets out of couponing is–besides the enormous savings–is the reaction on the faces of others when he tells them how much he was able to save on his total grocery bill. There have been a few occasions where his total has been over $100 and has dropped under $10 because of the way he had planned out his coupons. He fondly recalls his first big haul at his local IGA; he had accumulated a total bill of about $100 and managed to drop it down to $8 because of clever planning and price checking.
His average amount of savings is about $20 per bill, and can go up to about $200 for his bigger hauls. He’s managed to condition himself to look for sales and buy based on price as opposed to impulse.
Derek’s Tips for Beginners
One of his biggest pieces of advice is to not expect to start and be as extreme as those featured in TLC’s Extreme Couponing; it’s staged and, because of the policies in Canada, is not attainable at all. It’s possible to save a crazy amount with coupons, but don’t expect to have a bill of over $700 and only end up paying $20.
Don’t feel forced to use a coupon just because it’s about tot expire soon; companies are aware of this and cleverly place sales after the coupon has expired at times. As well, only use the bulk coupons if there’s an exceptional sale and remember; there will always be another sale. There’s been multiple times when our self-confessed coupon daddy felt like throwing them all away for various reasons; ranging from missing too many sales, leaving his coupons at home and even buying stuff he never used.
A good analogy he once told me is the following “If you want to get a dog, you have to accept the responsibility of feeding and walking it. Couponing is the same principle; you have to find the balance somewhere between looking at it like a pastime and a job.” It rings true on so many levels.
If you’re a couponer, I’d love to hear from you! Send me an email over at email@example.com and we’ll have a chat about you and your love of coupons! Or feel free to make a comment below.