Recently, I got the chance to talk coupons with Joyce House, aka Miss Coupon Diva, a Philadelphia native and coupon mastermind, who’s appeared on TLC’s Extreme Couponing, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, The Nate Show and more.
Joyce started couponing as a young mother, when one simple purchase taught her the value of a dollar and the power of the consumer – all in the same day. 36 years ago, after Joyce bought a box of diapers for her daughter, she realized that many of the diapers had brown spots and were unusable. She couldn’t afford to throw them away and her store wouldn’t take them back, so she wrote the diaper manufacturer and complained; they apologized and sent her coupons for free product. She’s been hooked on coupons ever since and she treats those little pieces of paper like cash that can take care of almost all of her groceries – as long as she strategizes and plans ahead.
Talking to Joyce, I was totally struck by how confident she is. And then I realized that confidence is characteristic of anyone who knows how to create abundance with coupons; they literally have the word at their feet. Because she can buy food and toiletries for next to nothing, Joyce has no debt, pays cash for cars, and stockpiles enough free food to feed the less fortunate in her community. She’s a living, breathing miracle!
If you’re new to couponing, before you start snipping coupons, the first thing you’ve got to change is your mindset. (It’s easy!)
Here is Miss Coupon Diva’s Creed for Thinking Like an Extreme Couponer:
1. Coupons are Money
Think coupons are just pieces of paper? Guess what? So are dollar bills. It’s the significance you attach to a piece of paper that makes it mean something, so start treating your coupons with the respect they deserve. A dollar off coupon for a product you need and regularly buy is a dollar in your pocket, plain and simple. (Although it helps when you can mobilize your paper coupons with your smart phone!)
2. Never Settle for Less
Unhappy with the product or service you received? Tell the manufacturer/restaurant/etc. You are the consumer and they want your business, so, nine times out of ten, they will rectify the mistake by sending you coupons or gift certificates. It’s extremely easy to communicate with manufacturers: Twitter, Facebook, and email are all great options. In today’s transparent consumer climate, anyone can review a product or service online, so retailers are extra sensitive to maintaining the standards their customers expect to receive.
3. Coupon Your Needs, Afford Your Wants
Think of couponing as a part time job (one you only have to work an hour or two a week), generating an extra source of income. The money that you save at the grocery store on milk, bread, and shampoo translates into fun money you can spend on your wants. If you’re diligent and keep records of the money you save with coupons, you can very easily see how its possible to afford that vacation you’ve been wanting to take or that new car you’ve been wanting to buy.
4. Treat Credit Cards like Cash Generators, Not Money Suckers
If you use your credit cards responsibly and pay your whole balance each month, you can make them work for you. Research a credit card’s incentive system before you decide to go with one over another. You can finance entire vacations with bonus air mileage and cash back rewards.
5. Don’t Shop When You Need to
It’s counter intuitive to everything we’re used to thinking about shopping. We think: “Need milk? Go to the store and pick some up.” But if you buy groceries, clothing items, and cosmetics according to your coupons and what’s on sale (instead of what you’ve recently run out of), you’ll stock up ahead of time for a whole lot less. You’ll save the difference between the full-price and couponed purchase, plus all the gas, time, and energy it takes to make frequent trips to the store.