Sunday, January 10, 2010

Collecting Coupons: Swapping Coupons

Part of being a savvy coupon shopper is having a great coupon stash to work from. If you're just starting out, building an adequate stash can take some time. Even if you have a few coupons to work with, you might have trouble collecting coupons for the products your family purchases regularly. A fun way to accumulate the coupons you need is to start a coupon swap group with other shoppers in your area!

A coupon swap is an organized way for a group of money savers to meet on a regular basis to share or swap coupons. Simply bring the coupons that you know you won't be using and take home the coupons others have offered that you can use.

I'm proud to be part of a fun coupon swap group in my area! Not only do we benefit from adding a few extra coupons to our stash once a month, but the ladies have become frugal friends. Along with coupons, we share the latest deal sightings, trade store experiences, encourage and empathize with each other. It's a true couponer's support group!

You can set up your group and agree on guidelines that work for you! We've added a few guidelines for our group to make things more interesting:
    One week before the swap, we each submit a few "wishlist" coupons to the organizer. A group email is then sent; if you can spare coupons on the list that others really need, simply bring them to the swap and gift them accordingly!
    When we find a great tearpad or non-insert coupon in the store, we try to collect enough (while still leaving plenty for other shoppers!) to bring and share with everyone in the group. Some of our members have found amazing coupons!
    The church where we meet also collects items for area food banks and homeless shelters. It's a great chance to share from the surplus of our stockpiled items!
Looking for other great ideas for sharing your coupons?
    Some groups also bring their expired coupons to the swap, package them and send them to military groups overseas (where they can be used at military bases up to 6 months past the expiration date).
    If meeting in person isn't ideal, you can always organize a coupon swapbox at your daycare, church, library, school, or work. You can learn more about how to organize a swapbox (including rules and sample interest letter) here.
    Maybe you can't organize a group, but have you met a fellow couponer that might be interested in swapping? It's even better if you can find a friend with opposite shopping needs. For example, if you have a baby and no pets, you could really benefit from finding a friend who has pets but no babies in the house!
    While there are a few different varieties of coupon trains, the most useful type is one that "leaves the station" every week. Train riders share their coupon wishlists and addresses with each other, then get matched up with a partner each week. As a rider, you send one envelope according to the train rules (25-40 coupons per envelope is common, with mailings usually early in the week). If you have coupons to share and can commit to participating each week, this may be a good fit for you!

    Interested in being part of a coupon train? Join A Full Cup here (it's FREE) and set up an account, post a wishlist, then visit the Coupon Train forum for more information. If there's enough interest, we could always start a Macomb Money Savers Train! :)

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