Alright, this is going out to all the friends, students and internetties who are just starting to coupon.
There are more people out there who have explained everything much better than I ever could, but I am going to try to break it down into more manageable lessons built around the way I teach it to those in person so if I have given you tips, you can come back as sort of a "professors notes" type thing.
So, Lesson 1!
Welcome to the first day of the rest of your life. (Not really, but it sometimes feels that way.)
~ The first thing I always tell everyone is to register for a new, FREE, "junk email". And honestly, if you wanted to get really down and dirty with it - register for two or three so you can easily sort through all the crap super easily. Any place where you sign up to receive their emails can and will email the crap out of you. When I first started doing this, I signed up for every offer and news letter and club and now that junk address nets about 75 emails a day.
Email is honestly one of the best ways to learn about sales and get coupons but you also need to give out your email address to get anything from legit offers to free samples to online clubs. There are some companies who are pretty cool and will only bug you when they have something awesome to tell you about, but there are more who act like that long lost friend you recently found on facebook who just won't shut up. (Seriously, and Neiman Marcus? I have tried several dozen times to get off of your DAILY subscription and nothing is working.)
If looking at a super full inbox just drives you nuts, sign up for two different address (but make sure you remember the names and passwords); keep one for Food (IE - restaurants and coupons for consumables or food related clubs, like "Kraft First Taste") and another for everything else (malls, clothing stores, online clubs that you actually want to keep using, like Sephora and Swagbucks, etc.) If you want to get extra anal, make a third email dedicated to just the junk - and this is going to be the offers that sometimes look less than legit (Remember - NEVER give your credit card info out for a "freebie") AND to give out to the companies to whom you just want their free samples. (Like, independent wholeistic pet food retailers and pyramid sales companies like Advocare.)
You don't have to go this route - as Gmail (the free email I recommend) has an excellent search feature - but couponing requires a good deal of organizing so why not sort everything out at the bottom.
Also a good thing to get a second of? Facebook! Advertisers are starting to realize the potential of this new medium thus ushering in a whole new wave and location to find coupons. If you're like me, you don't want to advertise to your friends list via your news feed that you just "faned" or "liked" Pampers, Totinos or San Luis cigars. So, what do you do? Make a second facebook! Just don't friend anyone on that account and keep the info minimal - like don't include your city or school - and no one will know about your habits.
Now that you have your junk email in check and your second facebook set up, go check out the posts here, here and here and start signing up! (TIP - wait a few days inbetween signing up for anything food related be it from the bday list or the freebie list - that way you'll have more than two weeks to collect on offers.) ((I'll also work on posting more facebook freebies.))
Next up - Mind Think