Thursday, May 26, 2011

Coupon Boot Camp - Lesson 9: More Questions Answered

After answering some of my most frequently asked questions in Lesson 8 last week, I've received quite a few more questions. In today's lesson I'll try to answer those questions and share some more tips. 

Q: I've been enjoying your couponing posts and I'd love to try to save money with coupons. My problem is that I'm a vegetarian and I buy mostly natural and organic foods. There really is never any coupons for what I buy. Is there a site with just natural and/or organic food coupons?

A: Not that I'm aware of, but I'm also not a vegetarian and I don't buy too much organic or "natural" food, so I'm not really on the look-out for those coupons. Not that I have anything against it, but bottom line, it is more expensive. I do see the occasional coupon for some of these types of foods though. I would recommend going to the companies websites of the foods you buy and seeing if they have printable coupons on their site. You can also search for them on Facebook, a lot of companies are using Facebook these days and many of them have coupons available from time to time.

If the company does not have a coupon on their site or Facebook page, get the contact information from their website. You can call them, email them or write them a letter. There's almost always an email address you can use. Simply state in the email that you love their product (or that you'd like to try their product), but that you're never able to find coupons for it. Tell them that in these hard times, coupons will make a big difference in keeping you loyal to their brand (or enabling you to try it). I can almost guarantee you'll get a response and more than likely some coupons. Include your mailing address in your email so that the company can mail you coupons.

Here are some organic and natural food company websites that you can try:

Apple & Eve
Back To Nature
Dreamfields Foods
Earth's Best
Brown Cow
Mambo Sprouts 
The Organic Cow
Wild Harvest
Soy Dream

Speaking of contacting companies directly to obtain coupons, here is a list of some of the companies I have emailed and then been mailed coupons from:

Birds Eye Foods
The Dannon Company
Pepperidge Farm
Fresh Express

The list could go on and on from there. I've literally contacted at least 100 companies requesting coupons and though I haven't really kept track, I'd say 80% of them mailed me coupons.

It might sound like a lot of work, contacting various companies and requesting coupons. It really isn't at all though. Find their website, find their contact info. and shoot them a quick email. You won't always get a response, you won't always get coupons as a result, but 9 times out of 10 you will. The benefit is that it probably won't be a one shot deal. You'll continue to receive coupons from them from time to time. I've even received coupons for free products by contacting companies. It is an extra effort and it's not something everyone is going to be down to do, but it really is worth it. 

Q: I tried to do the whole coupon thing a while ago, but I gave up. It was too much work and I felt like I wasn't saving any money. I want to try it again, any advice?

A: My advice is to start by reading all of my Coupon Boot Camp posts starting with Lesson 1 and work your way back to this post. It's a lot of information to digest and I tend to be a little long winded, so you may want to go back and read each lesson more than once. Then start applying what you've learned. The first step is to start collecting coupons, the next step is to start a system for organizing those coupons. Understanding the concepts of menu planning and stockpiling are key too. I'd encourage you to read all of the posts (and to go elsewhere for information) as there's really no one aspect of couponing that's more important than another. 

It's important to go into couponing with an open mind and to be prepared to fail at first. I started couponing about 5 years ago and I'd say it took me a little over a year to get it down to a science. There wasn't nearly the resources available then that there are now, so you might have an easier time of it. My advice is to start out small. This isn't a "Go Big or Go Home" situation. Do what works for you and keep at it. 

Also, it's not going to work for you if you don't really want to do it. If you tell yourself it's too much work, it will be. 

Q: What kind of stuff can I get for free with coupons?

A: All kinds of stuff. Seriously. It isn't just about getting stuff for free though. If you're overall goal is to reduce your budget and spend less money, then that's what you should focus on. If you get free stuff in the process, that's great. When I first starting couponing, I was getting all kinds of free stuff, but I wasn't saving any money. I needed to do both. You'll find that once you've paid nothing or next to nothing for certain items, you'll never want to pay for them again. And that's a good thing. That's what your goal should be. If you find a deal and you're able to get (4) bottles of ketchup for free, then you know you can get ketchup for free. You're goal should be to not pay for ketchup anymore. Or at least pay very little for it. 

Q: I've been seeing deals for gas cards, like "Spend $30, Get a $10 Gas Card", are these good deals?

A: These types of promotions usually require you to spend a certain amount of money on a certain selection of items in order to receive a card for gas. To me, no it's not generally a good deal. If you REALLY need the items included, if they're on sale for good prices and if you're able to use coupons to get them, then fine. Knock yourself out and get (3) gallons of gas on top of it. But if you don't really need those items, the prices aren't smoking hot and you don't have's a bum deal. You're basically spending $30.00 that you wouldn't have spend otherwise just to get $10 worth of gas for free (which isn't a whole lot these days). You might as well drop the $30 in your tank and call it a day.

Tomorrow will conclude the basics of Coupon Boot Camp. How are you making out so far? Did you even start yet? How can I help? Hit me up and let me know! :)

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