Thursday, January 24, 2013


Review: How to Coupon class from Frugal Living NW

As far back as I can remember, I have been fascinated by coupons.  Even as a kid, I would help my mom clip them from the paper, grab them from the flashing displays at the store, and peel them off of boxes of food that we liked to buy.  I was such a nerd, I even created a spreadsheet to track all of the coupons in the newspaper for a month because I wanted to practice making spreadsheets for my computer class in fifth grade.  (Yes, I was that kid...)

Flash forward to my adulthood.  I use coupons sometimes, probably more than most folks, but I don't have any strategy to it and only get a good deal once in a blue moon.

I have wanted to start really couponing for awhile, but whenever I watch that Extreme Couponing show or look at couponing websites, it seems like it's all for junk and crap I can't eat or would never buy.  I'm on a severely restricted diet that consists of about 80% organic veggies and the other 20% organic eggs and a couple of organic, diet-approved grains, so basically, they don't make coupons for my kind of food.

Nevertheless, I recently took an online couponing class from Pretty Frugal Diva.  It was pretty rad and I learned a lot, but ultimately still felt like couponing wasn't for people like me.  It was for "normal" folks without a million issues, folks with giant families and houses, and folks that really like pasta and soda.  

I was watching Extreme Couponing the other day on Netflix, however, and still got inspired.  It looked like so much fun to get all of that stuff for free, and I thought maybe I could donate it all to a shelter or something!  I googled "couponing portland" to see what I could find in my area, and I found this amazing website: Frugal Living NW!

Frugal Living NW not only lists all of the deals at the stores in Portland in a very easy to understand fashion, they do classes!  Free ones!  And there just happened to be one coming up this week, in my neighborhood.  If that's not fate, I don't know what is.

So tonight, I trooped on over to TaborSpace, expecting a room full of old ladies, and I was blown away.  There were people of all ages, all types, and I was not the only younger guy in the room!

Although I had heard about half of the information before online and on TV, it was a completely different experience watching a living, breathing person stand in front of me and say it out loud.  Angela Davis, the founder of Frugal Living NW, is a couponing goddess.  I could see that yes, this woman coupons successfully, and it is possible - it's not just something crazy people do on TV.  Normal people do it, too, and everyone can coupon in a way that works for them and their lifestyle, buying products that they use.

Frugal Living NW
See, totally normal!
Angela gave us all a handout with these five tenets of couponing:
  1. Know when to use coupons: Only use coupons when there is a store sale and you have a manufacturer's coupon, so that you will actually get a great deal.  The goal is to pay less for a name brand than a generic kind at WinCo or other discount stores.
  2. Stock up when the price is right: Most products go on sale every 10-16 weeks, so the goal is to stock up enough of something to last you until the next time it goes on sale.  For example, if you eat a box of pasta a week, buy ten boxes during a deal, and you'll be set until the next one comes around.
  3. Get enough coupons to build a pantry: The idea is to "shop" from your own pantry each day, instead of having to go to the store and pay full price when you want something.  Therefore, it's best to get several copies of each coupon insert so you can take full advantage of a deal.
  4. Use the right resources: There are many websites, such as Frugal Living NW, that list the deals for each store in an area each week.  If you are not from the Northwest, check around, I am sure there's a site for your area!
  5. Organize your coupons to save time and money: She does "no-clip" couponing, which is amazing and I didn't think it was possible!  She just has a small filing crate where she put the inserts in for each week - one file per week.  Then, when she finds a deal online, they are usually listed by date (for example: "Use $1.50/2 coupon from 11/11 RP insert"), so she can just go right to that weeks file, find the coupon, then clip it only if she is going to actually use it.  She has a small coupon organizer she takes with her to the store with just the coupons she needs.  SO EASY!!  Who knew??

    Some ideas to help you get started: 

I think the thing that stuck with me the most, was that I can coupon for things like toilet paper, paper towels, and toothbrushes - things that don't have to be organic and overpriced like everything else I have to use :p  I can save money by using coupons and stocking up on those, and use that money towards my organic veggies!  How cool is that?

As soon as I got home, I looked through this weeks ads and coupons and set up an organizational system for myself.  I'm very excited to get started!

For more information on how to coupon, check out Frugal Living NW's Ultimate Guide to Couponing in the NW.  It's an 11-part online class that is chock full of tips to help you get saving!

Do you coupon?  Tell me some newbie tips or about your latest, greatest deal!

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